The “silly season” has arrived, which is an exciting time of fun and celebrations, but also often causes us to spend money impulsively. Although we are looking forward to our gifts and holidays, the best gift we can give ourselves and our families this festive season is to make good financial decisions.
We tend to spend carelessly in December on unnecessary items, which is tantamount to throwing money away. Your spending behavior in December will determine your financial trend for the new year. Always be cautious when you are tempted to buy goods that could later see you falling into debt for months or even years.
Draw up a budget
The first step to ensuring that you spend wisely this festive season is to draw up a realistic budget. You must be honest with yourself on how much you spend and not what you think you can spend. Your budget should guide you to spend responsibly during December and January.
Start by prioritising your living expenses such as rent/bond, food, lights and water, insurance, debt, school fees, stationery and school uniforms. Over and above your daily living expenses and debt, you need to state clearly what is available for gifts, travel and entertainment over the festive period.
If you are planning to go away on holiday, don’t leave things until the last minute. Book as early as possible for accommodation, flights, trains or bus travel. You may get a better price for booking early and you’ll save yourself the stress and cost of having to take whatever is available at the last minute.
Tips to spend wisely
- Avoid buying on impulse such as expensive gifts that you did not budget for.
- Resist those SALE signs. Limit your visits to the mall.
- If you did not budget for a festive season trip/holiday, stay at home. There are many fun things to do in your own city or town.
- If you are lucky enough to get a bonus, pay up some of your debt (highest interest-bearing first).
- If you didn’t save, don’t borrow to spend.
- Instead of entertaining friends at an expensive restaurant, rather have a braai at home and ask guests to contribute with salads and beverages.
- Limit yourself to an amount for each person’s gift to help keep track of your spending. Gifts don’t have to be expensive – it’s the thought that counts.
- Don’t make dramatic changes to your spending patterns during the festive season. Try to keep to your normal spending pattern.
- Enjoy the festive season and be safe!
Marilyn Williams, Debt Counsellor: 0861 777 293