It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos that has come to saturate the season
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year; a time for love, tradition, togetherness and magic.
However, it’s also a time for hosting parties, travelling and shopping – all of which cost money…
… and, lot’s of it!
It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos that has come to saturate the season, knee deep in debt, having spent every. single. last. cent.
Here’s how to turn it around and get through the ‘silly season’ without breaking the bank:
5 Ways to save money during the ‘silly season’
1. Draw up a budget
If you’re not used to working with or drawing up a budget, now is the perfect time to learn!
Use the money you bring in each month as a starting point. For the month of December, remember to add on any year-end bonuses or ‘pay outs’. Once you know what you’re working with, outline your fixed expenses, like rent (or bond payments), electricity, medical aid and school fees, after which you can allocate money towards other ‘must-haves’ like petrol and groceries.
Now that you know what you have to pay, you can allocate the rest to ‘nice-to-haves’ – like travelling, eating out and Christmas gifts.
By drawing up a budget, you’ll know exactly where you stand, money wise, which should help to curb overspending.
2. Schedule weekly financial ‘check-ins’
Scheduling a weekly financial meeting with yourself is an important step towards sticking to your budget, and allows you to keep track of things such as:
- Your current bank balance;
- Where you’ve possibly overspent and need to tighten your belt in the coming week; and
- Upcoming expenses such as debit orders, electricity purchases and for moms of school-aged children, stationery and school uniforms!
This is also a good time to check what’s on sale each week – and determine where you can save money!
Herman Lombard, founder and executive director of financial services provider African Unity says that it’s also important to check over your budget directly after the festive season so that you are able to assess whether you managed to stick to it, where you could have saved and to make plans for paying back where you may have overspent as quickly as possible to avoid paying too much in interest.
3. Make a list, check it twice – and stick to it!
Write a list of gift ideas for each person for whom you’ll be buying and a budget for each gift and stick to it, says Lombard.
It’s normal to feel tempted by the clever marketing and attractive packaging of things that cost double than what you had budgeted for. But, if you know what you’re looking for, and block out the rest, you’re less likely to spend impulsively and haphazardly.
4. Look for bargains
December often abounds with bargains and sales, so take advantage of these money-saving opportunities by stocking up on gifts and decorations – even if you pack them away for next year.
Good to know: Lombard reminds us that you can never save money by spending. “Remember, if the money is not in your budget, then no matter how good the deal, you will be worse off than if you don’t make the purchase.”
5. Create new traditions
Don’t forget that the real magic of the festive season far exceeds the chaos that has come to saturate it.
- If you’re crafty, try DIY-ing gifts instead of spending money. Think jewellery, pottery, festive ornaments or homemade biscuits and other treats!
- Remember, outings don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. Picnics at the beach or in a safe park and hikes can be just as fun as an outing to an expensive, commercial venue.
- If your celebrations involve exchanging gifts, ‘Secret Santa’ is a great idea for gift giving. Rather than buying a gift for every family member or colleague, each person selects one other person for whom they will buy a gift, suggests Lombard.