Friday, December 3, 2010

5 Weeks with Nothing To Do?

After enduring the ever-dreaded week of finals, NIU students will be grateful to be given 5 weeks off (plus a day for Martin Luther King Jr. Day) without the worries of homework, tests, screeching professors or even having to wake up at a reasonable hour to attend classes! With this freedom, comes great responsibility. Especially after finals, many students, including myself, will be completely exhausted from a long semester capped off with a week of late night study sessions and high stress. I would encourage every student to take a day or 5 to unwind and indulge in some “me” time. This may involve sleeping in late, catching up on your favorite tv shows, spending time with friends, and basically doing as little as possible. However, take it from my experience, wasting away the entire 5 weeks is not the best idea. Overuse of this “do nothing” time can leave you feeling sluggish, unprepared, and unmotivated for the spring semester. Instead, take this extended break to accomplish something you have always wanted to, or to accomplish something you weren’t able to during the semester. Read a book, learn to ski or snowboard, go ice skating, start a business, visit with friends and family, start the job/internship hunt. Your possibilities are endless. At the end of your break, it would be a great idea to create a budget for your upcoming semester. Creating a budget just for the spring semester wouldn’t be too difficult, but it will allow you to visualize your entire financial picture and accomplish your financial goals. For me, after a couple days of some much needed downtime, I plan on continuing work on campus, finishing a book, polishing up my personal website, picking up some temporary work, and working on landing an internship for the summer. My plans aren’t all that soul quenching nor are they overly ambitious, but they are enough to keep me busy and give me some direction for these upcoming 5 weeks of freedom. Since this is a financial blog, I’ve decided to break down some ideas for winter break based on your financial situation:

Winter Break ideas if you HAVE money:
-Take a trip: go somewhere you have always wanted, you literally have enough time to go anywhere your heart desires and experience it to the fullest. You could also go on a road trip with some friends, sometimes just taking off for a weekend can really be refreshing.
-See as many movies as you can: the weeks leading up to Christmas is usually filled with some blockbusters hitting the theaters.
-Buy your loved ones gifts for the holiday season: Even if you have the money, it is still wise to do some bargain shopping when buying gifts for others, sometimes the cheapest gifts can be the best.

Winter Break ideas if you DON’T HAVE money:
-Take a trip: you may not be able to go see the Castles of Portugal, but maybe you can go see your Grandparents, they will probably still treat you like royalty.
-See as many movies as you can: You can use this time to watch some of your favorite DVD’s you already own. As long as you can relax and enjoy it, your mind will be appreciative
-Make your loved ones gifts for the holiday season: As long as they are made with love, these gifts will be as good, if not better, than a store bought gift.

Winter Break ideas if you NEED money:
-Find a temporary job: Utilize a temp service, or look in your local paper to see who is hiring during these winter months
-Ask for some hours at your old job: Remember that job you had over summer break? That may be a good place to start looking for some extra income, they may need some extra help during the winter months.
-Keep working at your current job: Just because there is Winter Break for school, doesn’t mean you have to rush home and abandon your work hours in Dekalb. Stick around and earn some extra money!
-Start a business: 5 weeks is a lot of time, you could literally start an entire business in this time. You may not create a global empire in 5 weeks, but if you are creative enough and willing to put in some hard work, you may be able to set up and automated business allowing you to reap the rewards for semesters to come.