Planning for Festive spending


PARTY (AND FINANCIAL) PLANNING THIS CHRISTMAS

As the festive season approaches, many of us have mixed feelings... on the one hand, you might look forward to a bit of a break and spending time with your family. But the festive season can also be a stressful time for many, and one of the aspects that can make it stressful is the extra spending that seems to happen at this time of year.  How many of us have started the new year feeling anxious and guilty because of the surprisingly large amount of debt that we’ve managed to wrack up in December? There has to be a better way to start the new year! Below we outline some simple strategies that will help you not to overspend during the festive season.  

What to do:  

  • It may be too late for this year, but ideally you should start planning early for the festive season – even as early as June/July.  At this point in the year, you can start setting aside a small amount of savings each month towards your ‘Festive Season Fund’.  This spreads out the impact of the festive season, making it feel a lot more manageable. Make a note to do this next year and start early.  
  • Next, make sure you are clear on what budget you can afford this year for gifts.  You need to work out a budget and stick to it. In doing your calculations, you may want to think ahead to your upcoming obligations in January, such as school fees, uniforms, and stationery.  
  • Avoid spending too many hours wandering the glittery and tempting aisles of shopping malls in the run up to the festive season, especially without a shopping list, as this can encourage excessive spending.
  • Get creative with your gifts, for example making baked goods, jams or sauces. When bottled with flair, these all have a wonderful personal touch.  Other ideas include a homemade photo album or recipe book, or beaded jewellery.
  • Agree as an extended family to each buy one present of a certain monetary value (or less) and then do a swap on the day.  This way, you each buy and receive one really great gift, as opposed to spending what adds up to more money on lots of smaller (often useless!) gifts.
  • Find a holiday that suits your budget: go local and keep it simple.  Often, these are the best type of family holidays! There is no point going into debt and having to pay off this year’s holiday next year.  
  • If you’re lucky enough to get paid a bonus this year, don’t automatically blow it on buying more ‘things’ (whether for yourself or others).  Rather save or invest most of your bonus.  This is really the best way to reward yourself.  
  • The festive season is often a time to think of those less fortunate – and this shouldn’t change.  However, one idea is to donate your time, and not money, to the needy.  

Remember what the festive season is about: spending time with friends and family – not spending money!  Good luck in implementing these strategies and starting the new year with a healthy bank balance and a light heart.

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Tarn Hodson - BA (Rhodes), LLB(UCT)

Tarn Hodson

BA (Rhodes), LLB(UCT)

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