‘The key thing to remember is that it is going to be a month and a half until you receive your next pay cheque,” says Boitumelo Mothoagae, financial adviser and head of customer relationship management at Liberty.
“Figure out exactly what your expenses will be for December and January, and then work out a holiday budget based on what is left.”
Remember that presents and festive spending don’t form part of your regular budget, so your regular expenses, particularly your debit orders, should be taken into account before you allocate funds towards a new flat-screen TV or the latest Sony PlayStation.
To help you keep track of your wallet this holiday, Mothoagae suggests you use the following pointers:
Set aside funds now for your end-ofDecember debit orders and expenses in the new year.
What you can also do is make arrangements for your debtors to debit you early (around the time that you get paid) if you know that you will be unable to resist using the money. In this way, you will pay all your debit orders in advance.
Account for January expenses, such as school uniforms, stationery, school fees and transport to work.
Do not use funds you will need in January to buy Christmas gifts.
Instead of buying gifts for everyone, sit down with your family and agree to have a secret Santa this year – each person buys and receives one gift only. You can have a price limit so that you all receive a gift of similar value and no one overspends.
The secret Santa idea also works well with work colleagues.
If you are going away on holiday, draw up a holiday budget and make sure you stick to it. Your budget should take into account the following costs: Money for transport. Airport taxes if you are flying. Entrance fees to tourist attractions (such as Table Mountain).
Money for all your meals if your accommodation does not cater for meals.
Extra money if you plan to buy gifts on holiday.
Medical insurance so that you are covered while outside the country and won’t have to spend extra in a medical emergency.
An emergency fund for any emergencies that may occur, such as your car breaking down or if you lose your luggage.
Draw the whole family in and have a “budget discussion” so that you are all on the same page and your family won’t place unnecessary demands on you financially.
List the things that will require money and decide who will be responsible for what aspect of the budget to ensure that you are all accountable for ensuring frugal spending. In this way, you also spread the costs, which become cheaper per person.
When it comes to credit, you could be tempted to use this facility over the festive season. If you have huge amounts of debt, you should seriously consider using your bonus to pay off your debt so that you can start January with a clean slate. However, if you do this, remember you need to steer clear of using credit facilities once you have paid them off. The last thing you want is to flush your bonus away in a never-ending deluge of debt.
Pay off your debt, starting with the highest interest-bearing debt. Typically, your credit and store cards attract the highest interest rates.
“Remember that any money you spend on credit over the festive season will have to be repaid once the Christmas lights go off,” warns Mothoagae.
She also points out that if you delay paying off your debt, the amount you owe is going to attract interest.