While getting your finances – and debt – into shape during summer can be a tricky task, preparing beforehand will allow you to keep enjoying yourself long after the season is over.

According to Wikus Olivier, debt counsellor at DebtSafe, while many people choose to make the change to a healthier lifestyle in the first few summer months, it is also an opportune time to prepare for your summer budget. â??Summer in South Africa, with its long holidays and special occasions, is one of the more expensive seasons, with all the festivities it brings,â? he says.

Simple ways you can work on your finances

â??However, there are a number of simple and practical ways people can work on their finances to ensure that they are financially fit for the countryâ??s favourite time of year, and avoid the dreaded financial weight gain often experienced when the holiday is over.â?

Gather all of your financial documents

Take some time to compile all of your financial documents â?? including bank statements, investment accounts and monthly bills. This is often a crucial step in setting up a budget â?? assisting you in figuring out what all of your monthly averages are.

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Set a realistic budget

Budgeting may be difficult to get right the first time, but it is important to know where your money is going each month â?? including savings – to ensure that you are not living from pay cheque to pay cheque. Drawing up a list of fixed and flexible expenses and sticking to these will ensure you stay within your spending means.

Start a savings plan

Whether youâ??re saving for a short term goal such as a summer vacation, or for the long term, starting a savings plan is a pivotal step in being financial fit. Consider interest rates, fees, how the account works and how you will want to utilise it.

Consolidate your debt

Often, simplifying your banking as well as looking at your outstanding debt, can give you a clearer idea of where you stand. Consolidating your debt into one loan often makes it easier to budget and save. It is important to conduct thorough research to find out if this is the correct path for you – consulting the expertise of your bank will also assist you in making the right choice.

Work with a professional

In the same way that working with a personal trainer can help you achieve your fitness goals, employing the services of a debt counsellor or financial advisor can also help to identify the right â??programmeâ?? for you, as well as take the correct steps towards achieving your financial goals.

â??There is no doubt that most of us want to go into the summer season feeling relaxed and confident that we are able to enjoy all it has to offer â?? and afford it. Summer is the perfect time to start making a change in your financial life; applying just some of the steps above can set you on the right path,â? concludes Olivier.