The Ultimate Guide to a Festive Season on a Budget
Author: Melissa Wentzel
The best tips for managing your finances over the festive season if you haven't saved and need to do Christmas and New Year's on a budget
The weakening rand, rising inflation, and an increase in personal tax put a dark cloud over the economic outlook for consumers at the start of 2016. As the festive season approaches, however, we can almost feel the hope rise again as the year draws to a close. And with it, a growing euphoria at the coming new start.As the pressures of work wear off and excitement grows, it can be a good time for people to start implementing New Year’s resolutions and plans. But often, it’s also when consumers feel that Christmas has snuck up on them, yet again, and realise it’s too late to start saving. Which is why we’ve combed through the best tips for managing your finances over the festive season and have compiled the ultimate guide to enjoying the festive season without blowing the bank.
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How To Stick To a Budget Over The Festive Season
Make a Budget
It sounds obvious, but until you have it on paper (or a spreadsheet), your budgeting goals over Christmas and New Year’s Eve are nothing more than a pipe dream. You need to get it down and be realistic about your spending. Make extra allowances for your entertainment, because you’re probably going to want to leave your house this summer. Know how much you have to spend on important gifts for family and friends. If it’s less than last year, buy better wrapping paper.
Don’t Splurge Your Bonus
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that still pays a 13th cheque or Christmas bonus, use it as a financial buffer come January. That’s the time most people suddenly remember they have children who go to school, and need school clothes. And stationary. And lunch. Don’t be the person who buys their kid an Xbox for Christmas but sends them to school with peanut butter and no jam, when school starts. Plan ahead.
Shop The Specials
Most retailers run three-for-one deals and discounts at the end of the year to draw consumers and their wallets before Christmas. Don’t feel bad if you get your mom a gift at a discount. She probably won’t even know unless you tell her. And just think about how proud she would be if she knew how responsible you’re being with your money. And you won’t be calling her for a ‘personal loan’ in the new year. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Swipe With Your Eyes Open
We’re not even talking about card fraud, which does increase over the holidays, but just credit in general. If you’re in a pinch and you’re not willing to do hand-made soap for your relatives this year, you might resort to your credit card or a personal loan (or even an instant loan). In this case, don’t borrow with your eyes closed. Be aware of the fact that the credit you’re using now is going to cost you next year. Be kind to your future self, and take stock of interest and other other hidden fees that you’re going to be paying on the loan, and budget for that. If it’s going to push you over your means next year, take out your (or your wife’s) knitting needles. Because everyone’s getting beanies this year.