The festive season in South Africa is not an expensive time of the year, said nobody EVER!

Credit Clear recommends these six tips for staying debt free this festive season

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, school holidays mean that children need to be entertained, trips to visit family mean high grocery bills and lots of petrol, and tourist prices in restaurants make eating out even more expensive.

Many South Africans will be spending money on holidays or going home (destination, accommodation and entertainment) and if you celebrate Christmas, that comes with the costs of gifts and decorations. For families with children, there is the additional financial strain of preparing for next year’s educational requirements, be it school supplies, uniforms or university registration fees.

The financial strain that comes with the festive season cannot be avoided, but Mark Bishop, Managing Member at Credit Clear offers the following six tips to avoid going into debt over this festive season:

1. Create a budget

Take a careful look at the savings you have accumulated over the year and allocate SOME of that money to the festive season. Be sure to make a list of all items that include, but are not limited to, food, gifts, travel and back-to-school supplies.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Remember, a budget helps enhance your lifestyle and should not deprive you of enjoying your life.

2. Agree to a price limit and don’t just buy a gift

When it comes to the festive season, its easy to get carried away, particularly at Christmas and when it comes to purchasing presents. It is not unheard of for families to agree to a limit on the amount of money to be spent on each person in advance. The spirit of giving during Christmas can be contagious so don’t just buy a person a gift for the sake of it.

3. Be strategic with your purchases

Many shops offer great deals in the weeks before Christmas and back-to-school and it is possible to save a lot of money by taking advantage of these offers. Keep an eye on Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials too. In addition, it is often a good option to purchase a gift card so that the recipient can purchase something they really want.

Be smart about plastic

Buying on credit makes it easy to go into debt, so commit to not making use of your credit card during the festive season. Take note that the interest on some store cards is extremely high and will cost you far more in the long run.

4. Plan a staycation

You don’t need to go on holiday to an exotic destination or purchase expensive gifts to enjoy your holiday. The best part of having time off is that it gives you the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones. Enjoy the simple pleasures like a beach day or a trip to the park – collect memories and not things.

Planning the ultimate staycation

5. Do a back-to-school stock take

Before you put together a shopping list, do a stock take of the items that your child already has to ensure that you do not duplicate items. Also be sure to shop around – different stores have different items on promotion.

“Nobody wants to suffer the effects of poor money management and overspending during the festive season,” says Bishop. “By making use of these tips (and others), you can secure your finances and in turn feel financially empowered for the new year! But you HAVE to be disciplined in your approach to the festive season and not get caught up in a spending frenzy”

*Disclaimer: Credit Clear is not a registered financial advisor.