The festive season is around the corner and the spending spree is loading. No matter how hard we try, it’s really difficult not to overspend at this time of year. With a bit of thought and forward planning, you can be level headed and avoid the financial hangover that often pops in January!
Some tips to make the most of your money over the festive season:
- If you’re lucky enough to be getting a bonus, make it work for you. It might be thrilling to have a fat bank balance and being able to spend without worry, but how about paying off some short term debt, saving interest and freeing up cash in 2022? Or you could invest a portion of it and build up a tidy sum if you do this year after year.
- Generate some much needed extra cash by getting rid of items you don’t need any more – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure they say, and a good few hundred rand could be lurking in your cupboards. Advertise on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace and cash in!
- Plan your spending and set up budgets. Draw up a list of who you will buy gifts for and how much you will spend on each person. Don’t add to your list or be tempted to go over your budget. Also, don’t buy gifts on credit. You will still be paying them off long after the enjoyment has faded.
- When entertaining, club together with family or friends so that the cost of entertaining isn’t falling squarely on your shoulders. Everyone brings something and it’s much more fun. Cut back on expensive snacks and get everyone to bring their own drinks.
- Avoid massive food wastage. Between 30 and 40% of the food prepared over the festive season ends up in the dustbin according to the African Climate Reality Project. So a chunk of your hard earned money is literally thrown away! Go back to basics – less is more and avoid the over shopping and over catering trap.
- Cut costs where you can, and wrapping paper is a great example. It’s not cheap and literally ends up in the bin. Make your own and enlist the help of the kids – it fun and interactive. Use old fashioned brown paper and make a potato stamp by slicing a potato in half and then scoring a festive motif on one half. Cut away the flesh around the motif to create a stamp. Dip the stamp in ink or a thin layer of paint, and then stamp the design all over the brown paper.
- With over half of South Africans saying they receive gifts they don’t use (according to research conducted by Gumtree), it’s no small wonder that gift shopping is a challenge. So how about giving an experience instead? There are so many options to suit all pockets and interests from adventures to chilled activities such as picnics and pampering. Give a memory and it will be fondly remembered.
- If money is tight, a homemade gift such as baked goodies, a recipe in a jar or even a snack hamper will always be a treat. A pamper hamper is always also a great idea that won’t break the bank. Include shower or bath products, some chocolate and perhaps a candle and a bottle of wine. For the men, include shaving cream and a nice body wash. Also don’t overlook your local thrift shop for some bargain shopping.
- Avoid everything last minute – including shopping, or adding people to your Christmas gift list. You will blow your budget and having to face busy, noisy shops or malls will leave you stressed and will probably spend more than you planned just to get out of the shops!
- Let your fingers do the shopping. Online shopping, whether for gifts or groceries is easy, efficient and keeps you within budget. There’s very little impulse buying, and you avoid all the tempting in-store displays encouraging you to spend more. The best part of online shopping is that you can see how much you have spent at any point, before you actually checkout and pay. This puts you firmly in control of your purse strings!
Every festive season is about sharing special times with loved ones. Don’t go into debt, be realistic about what you can afford, and focus on making memories with your loved ones, instead of showering them with stuff. Stuff fades, memories last forever.
Let us know in the comments below if you will be using any of these tips when being money wise this December?
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This article was written by Sylvia Walker, financial planner, speaker and author of smartwoman. www.sylviawalker.co.za