Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean you have to blow the budget and break the bank. All it takes to avoid the post-festive season blues is a bit of planning and creative thinking.
YFN asked a variety of consumers for tips on how to be money-savvy during the festive season. They came up with loads of great suggestions. Some you can implement right away to make a difference this December; others will help you to get an early start on next year’s expenses. Either way, you can’t go wrong by putting this advice into practice.
It’s all about the budget
It is easy to get caught up in the year-end spirit of having fun, giving gifts and worrying about the future tomorrow. Our respondents think there is a better way to go about it. Proper budgeting features on many of their lists of tips.
According to Muofhe, you have to know exactly how much money you have to spend this holiday season before you start buying. Make a list of all your expected expenses and make sure you know where the money to cover it all will come from.
Portia adds that as you shop, write down every cent you spend so that you know where your money goes.
Thembelihle believes in thinking about the future. “Set aside money for the kids’ school stationery, and the family’s transport and groceries for January before you start spending in December.” To make this easier, Thabelo suggests leaving some cash at home when you go away. That way, even if you are tempted to spend January’s money, you can’t.
Further future-thinking tips come from Glen, who suggests start saving for December in January already, and Sharon who has a great idea for a family festive money pool. “During the year, everyone in your family contributes an agreed monthly amount. You all then use the money for gifts and goodies in December.”
Be a savvy shopper
Melissa warns that last-minute shopping is the most expensive kind. She suggests you ask yourself three questions before you buy:
- Do I really need it?
- Will I still need it in a year’s time?
- Will it add value to my life?
David also has some shopping advice:
- Buy in bulk for January.
- Shop around.
- Make a list.
- Bargain with the sales people.
Gabotshwane says it’s a good idea to check your receipts to make sure you were charged correctly. Also keep those receipts so that you can track your spending and, if necessary, can return items to the store.
Neo has a simple but powerful tip: “Drink more water and less soft drinks.”
Good ideas around gifts
Hendrik says buying gift vouchers during the year is a great way to avoid spending vast amounts of cash on presents in December.
Handmade gifts seem to be a thing at the moment. Several consumers say that they make their own gifts, ranging from delectable foodstuffs, such as biscuits, canned fruit and chutney, to wall decorations and even simple bookshelves. The same goes for table and tree decorations and greeting cards and gift tags.
Michelle warns about getting caught up in the hype to buy all the latest gadgets and toys. Instead, she says, make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for and spend time thinking about what they would really like. When you’re with them, listen for hints. Another good idea is to give experiences, instead of things.
Fortunate agrees: “Don’t buy to impress. Keep gifts simple and meaningful – it’s not the amount you spent but the thought that counts.”
Share the celebrations
Muzingaye suggests co-hosting celebrations and parties with a friend or family member. That way one person doesn’t have to do all the cooking and preparing and the hosts can share the costs as well.
For Kirby, spending time at home with family makes far more sense that spending money at the mall. She also suggests that instead of cooking a big, expensive feast, you could donate your time to a worthy cause and volunteer as a family.
Lerato suggests joining a groceries stokvel at the beginning of the year, while Nokulunga says to do something nice with leftover food so that your family will be happy to eat it.