by Sylvia Walker, author of SmartWoman
The festive season is upon us. For many people, the pace slows down, and we may take some time off work, spend quality time with family and friends, and perhaps even go away on holiday. Whatever shape your festive season takes, it’s an extra expensive time of the year – apart from the obvious giving of presents, we also tend to eat more, socialize more and generally spend more.
Retailers bombard us with loads of special offers, and clever marketing campaigns entice us to buy durable and other items. It’s the one time of year that everyone is encouraged to spend! Some of us are lucky to get an annual bonus, but many do not have this benefit, or are self employed. Having money or not never seems to deter spending. People happily haul out the credit and store cards and incur debt, often not giving too much thought to the fact that it needs to be paid back in the near future. And for many, January is a very long month waiting till the next payday.
So how do you manage to have a good time without that horrible spending hang-over?
1. If you were planning to buy a new durable item (a new TV for instance), don’t be tempted to buy it just because it looks like a good deal. Nothing is free, and you will end up paying more in the long run. Of course, cash is preferable for any large purchases.
2. Gifts should be given from the heart, based on what you can afford. Don’t incur debt to buy gifts, and if you feel the need to impress people with lavish gifts that you can’t afford, you need to reassess your relationship with them. You will still be paying for the gifts long after the experience of receiving them has passed.
3. Do some clever shopping – set a budget for your gift shopping and stick to it. So much money is wasted with last minute shopping when one buys on impulse. Draw up a list of who you need to buy gifts for, and do not add to the list. Also consider buying your gifts online. It’s far less stressful and you can see exactly what you are spending as you go along. There is also no spending hype which retailers create in store, and you are in control of your shopping activity.
4. Consider implementing a “Secret Santa” system in your family where each person buys one gift and receives one gift. Far cheaper and less wastage. Think of how many gifts you receive that you really don’t want or need (or even put aside to re gift in future!).
5. If you are planning to go away on holiday, you should only do it is you can afford to pay cash for it – book early so you get good prices, and save throughout the year, perhaps starting a holiday fund that you contribute to each month. If you can’t afford to go away, take a ‘staycation’ - enjoy the time at home and do things that you are always too busy to do during the year - go on day trips, do picnics in nature, go to the movies, and so on.
The end of the year’s festivities doesn’t have to leave you financially devastated. With a little planning and some conscious decisions around your spending, you can have a very memorable time with your loved ones, and sleep easy knowing that you will not pay the price tomorrow!
Sylvia Walker is highly skilled and experienced in the financial services industry, having spent a large part of her career as a marketing manager for a blue-chip company. During this time, she worked closely with the media, conducting hundreds of presentations, doing radio and TV interviews and writing many articles for publications such as O, the Oprah magazine, Good Housekeeping / Goeie Huishouding, Sarie, The Mercury, Plus 50 and many others. She left the corporate world at the end of 2014 to pursue her interests further afield. She is also a published author. She contributed chapters on financial planning in Mary Ann Shearer’s Take Control the Natural Way and Nadia Bilchik and Lori Milner’s Own Your Space. She authored Dealing in Death – Ellen Pakkies and a Community’s Struggle with Tik and co-authored Steeped in Blood, the memoirs of Dr David Klatzow, which was shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award in 2011. She also co-authored and published Reflections for Old Mutual in 2013. Sylvia is currently a financial planner, writes articles, and conducts workshops on various aspects of financial literacy and planning. She is also the resident financial guru on the Cape Talk Early Breakfast Show, and is on air every Friday morning. Her latest book, SmartWoman, has just been published, and is a culmination of many years of experience in advising women on how to gain financial freedom and grow their wealth. SylviaWalker.co.za
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