Take a break with your stokvel
Phakamani Mvelashe looks at why planning for a holiday is crucial
STOKVELS don't have to be just about funerals and sharing groceries at the end of the year as it has become a norm. Even though taking care of our families and making sure that all their needs are catered for is important, we need to have some fun too in our stokvels.
These money-saving clubs, which have been part of African culture for decades, should also be a place where friends, neighbours and colleagues meet for good times and companionship. However, having a good time together doesn't mean that you should spend a fortune. Stokvels can do some fun activities, like going on holiday, without breaking the bank.
TAKE A WELL-DESERVED BREAK
Speaking of holidays, the festive season is an ideal time for stokvel members to take a well-deserved break. This is a time when most of the stokvel members get time off work.
If you are planning to take your first trip as a stokvel, there are some important things that you need to consider to make sure that all members are on the same page and know what is expected of them.
One of them is to know how much money needs to be raised for the trip and how it's going to be paid. An easy way of doing this is to open an account for your stokvel and save money throughout the year.
"The majority of stokvel accounts are opened at the beginning of the year as people start to save early in the year for the festive season or for unexpected events in the year,” says Jo-ann du Plessis, head of pricing and product at FNB.
She adds that this allows the group enough time to save money for the desired goal.
SET UP A SCHEDULED TRANSFER ACCOUNT AND SAVE RIGHT AWAY
Different savings or investment accounts will have different features to meet your specific needs, so find out what works best for your group and also bear in mind how long you have to save.
A useful way is to calculate how much you need in advance, calculate how much you can contribute towards the holiday every month and then set up a scheduled transfer with your bank. Most banks in South Africa offer group savings accounts.
“An account like the 32-Day Flexi Notice is ideal for savings towards a specific goal such as a holiday. It allows you to add money at any time and you can access your money after 32 days at no cost, allowing you to take advantage of any travel special that may arise,” says Lezanne Human, CEO of FNB Savings, Investments and Fiduciary.
Lezanne adds,“paying for your vacation in cash would be ideal especially where indebtedness is a major setback. When it comes to saving, time is your ally. Plan well in advance so that you know how much you need to save for and start saving towards this goal right away.”
TIME YOUR TRIP AND SHOP AROUND FOR BEST DEALS
Saving money on travel often comes down to timing. If you are flying, try to fly during off-peak season as these flights tend to be a lot cheaper.
Even if you travel in December when prices are up, it would be wise for the group to buy the tickets well in advance so that you don’t incur the festive prices. Taking the bus or a train can also be a cheaper option.
“Shop around for the right holiday packages or deals, compare prices and try to book well in advance to ensure that you get the best prices,” says Lezanne.
CHOOSING YOUR FAVOURITE DESTINATION
The South African Tourism website has deals for travel across the country. It would be a good idea to start there for shopping for a vacation spot.
You can also visit your travel agency, which are located in most shopping centres. The agencies will be able to help you with a reasonable quotation for your trip, be it a local or an international trip. They are better equipped to help you with logistics for any kind of trip.
CHEAPER OR FREE ACTIVITIES YOUR STOKVEL CAN DO
Head of communications marketing and corporate affairs at Capitec Bank, Charl Nel, says there are many experiences that won’t cost a lot but will help recharge your batteries and build special memories with your stokvel members.
“You can visit an art gallery or museum, have a picnic in one of the country’s many parks or spend a day at the beach,” he says.
“Some South African tourism sites also offer specials. For example, you can get a free trip up Table Mountain on your birthday, and every year South African National Parks gives South African citizens free access to national parks for a week.”
■ South African Tourism: 011 895 3000 ■ Shotleft: www.shotleft.co.za ■ Club Travel: 0860 555 777 ■ Student Flight: 0877 40 50 80 ■ Pentravel: 087 231 2000
Take time out of your routine as a stokvel and explore the beautiful tourist attractions in Mzansi