MONEY DI­ARIES: nav­i­gate the fes­tive sea­son

How to stay sol­vent through the silly sea­son

Elle (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

The word ‘fru­gal’ has a bad rep­u­ta­tion, of­ten per­ceived to be syn­ony­mous with the word ‘stingy’. To be fru­gal is to be fi­nan­cially cau­tious and to in­ten­tion­ally max­imise the mileage of your money, whereas to be stingy is to al­ways go for the cheapest op­tion to save a buck, of­ten for no rea­son. Es­sen­tially, stingy is ‘fru­gal’s’ no­to­ri­ous rel­a­tive who al­ways tar­nishes the fam­ily name. This fes­tive sea­son, we’re restor­ing ‘fru­gal’s’ dig­nity by us­ing it to guide us in stretch­ing our bank bal­ance through De­cem­ber and into Jan­uary, start­ing on the premise that it some­times pays a lot more to spend a little less. Here’s how:


You may not break the bank each time you buy a drink or a meal, but the costs are cu­mu­la­tive. Mit­i­gate these by buy­ing your gro­ceries in bulk at whole­salers. This will help you spend the lion’s share of your earn­ings on ex­pe­ri­ences and neg­li­gi­ble amounts on food. TIP: It may work out even bet­ter for you and a group of friends to pool your re­sources and buy in bulk. You can then split the costs and dis­trib­ute the goods at an at-home party, with who­ever’s host­ing it get­ting a dis­count.


Do as many things ahead of time as pos­si­ble. You can make many little sav­ings this way, which amount to big sav­ings by sim­ply be­ing proac­tive. Take ad­van­tage of lower prices for pre-or­dered tick­ets for shows, rather than buy­ing them at the door. Have pre-din­ner drinks at home, to avoid spend­ing ex­u­ber­ant amounts at restau­rant bars. You could even have a home pre-main course and only or­der starters, dessert and cof­fee at the restau­rant.


Cash in on the of­ten un­der-used bless­ings that are two-for-one or half­price spe­cials. Luck­ily, the In­ter­net abounds with dis­count plat­forms, such as Liv­ing­so­cial, Deal Africa and OneDayOnly.


It’s fair to an­tic­i­pate un­planned nights out or hav­ing to chip in for an un­ex­pected fam­ily event at some point over the hol­i­day pe­riod, so draw up a bud­get for these im­promptu oc­ca­sions. ‘The main is­sue is that many peo­ple tend to spend what they don’t have dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod,’ says Nol­wazi Khu­malo, pri­vate bank­ing team leader at In­vestec. This can be con­trolled by set­ting bound­aries for un­ex­pected ex­penses. These keep your fi­nances un­der con­trol and pre­vent reck­less spend­ing.


Say­ing ‘no’ is one of the hard­est things to do when you’re tempted to in­dulge in some­thing you can’t af­ford or that will set you back se­verely. The hol­i­day pe­riod isn’t open sea­son for in­cur­ring mind­less debt. ‘Credit cards and over­drafts aren’t free money: you have to pay them back – with hefty in­ter­est,’ says Khu­malo.


You’re in a good mood, your salary prob­a­bly came along early and you feel flush. Your cash flow may look good right now, but re­mem­ber that this is a long-term game. When Jan­uary’s shadow lurks, pay at­ten­tion to it, be­cause it will save you a great deal in the long run. You have the mak­ings of a fru­gal mas­ter­mind. Now go out and en­joy – re­spon­si­bly.

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