Pre­pare and have a rand-wise Christ­mas

George Herald - Private Property - - Property News -

Christ­mas will be on your doorstep soon. Are you cer­tain that you are fi­nan­cially pre­pared for it?

There are var­i­ous costs in­volved when it comes to silly sea­son fes­tiv­i­ties - travel, ac­com­mo­da­tion, pocket money, gifts, ac­tiv­i­ties, to name but a few - and per­haps the big­gest part of your ex­pen­di­tures, gro­cery costs. It is quite a mouth­ful, is it not?

Matthys Pot­gi­eter, debt ex­pert and spokesper­son at Debt­safe, says this is why it is time to be proac­tive in the months or weeks prior to De­cem­ber. "There is un­de­ni­ably still time to make sure you are fi­nan­cially ready to get through the fes­tive sea­son. And re­mem­ber, the last thing you should do is con­sider mak­ing more debt," says Pot­gi­eter.

Here are a few tips to get your plan­ning and prepa­ra­tions go­ing. These tips (to­gether with your own keep­ing-it-fru­gal list) can help you have your­self (and your pocket) a rand-wise Christ­mas this year:

Food and gro­ceries

It is most likely that you and other South African con­sumers are still feel­ing the ef­fect of the April 2018 VAT in­crease on your pocket. Gro­ceries are very ex­pen­sive, but there are a few things that you can do to not break the bank when it comes to meal plan­ning this Christ­mas:

Make sure in the months / weeks prior to De­cem­ber that your pantry, fridge and freezer are stocked (note - not over­stocked) with long-last­ing in­gre­di­ents to keep your bud­get un­der con­trol and to avoid ex­pen­sive last-minute buys. This can save you time and money and en­able you to work with what you have avail­able, even if there is a change in your fes­tiv­i­ties, like un­planned guests, for ex­am­ple.

Re­gard­ing Christ­mas Day, Pot­gi­eter rec­om­mends that every­body should club in and pay a cer­tain amount to cover the nec­es­sary lunch / din­ner costs. If needed you, your friends or fam­ily mem­bers can also pre­pare in ad­vance and bring your own drinks, meat and a favourite fam­ily dish along for the spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion. This will make Christ­mas Day "mem­ory-friendly" and fru­gal show­ing that you care while you share.

Day-af­ter-christ­mas left­overs are the best. Get some cook­ing / bak­ing cre­ativ­ity go­ing this fes­tive sea­son and make your own (con­sum­able) con­coc­tion with the in­gre­di­ents and left­overs that you have avail­able.

Fuel and travel

Re­cent fuel hikes can surely make you think twice about trav­el­ling, but what can you do when you have to travel from point A to point B? Pot­gi­eter rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing:

If your friends or fam­ily mem­bers are also driv­ing from and to the same area, con­sider car­pool­ing. Us­ing fewer cars means us­ing less fuel and money. Avoid toll routes where pos­si­ble and take al­ter­na­tive, scenic routes in­stead.

Get the best fuel con­sump­tion by driv­ing in the high­est gear pos­si­ble and main­tain­ing a con­stant speed from your home to your des­ti­na­tion.

Be­cause Christ­mas­time is also sum­mer­time, be aware that your air-con uses more fuel when you drive at a lower speed.

Gifts and or­na­ments

Presents and dec­o­ra­tions should not cost an arm and a leg. Re­mem­ber, cre­ativ­ity goes a long fis­cal way.

When it comes to gifts, re­mem­ber that it is the idea that counts. Christ­mas has been ex­posed as a spend­ing and debt-filled sea­son for far too long. Don't you think it is time to trade the fi­nan­cially drain­ing and silly Christ­mas ideas and rather go back to the heart and mean­ing of it - namely cre­at­ing mem­o­ries? Keep a gift per­sonal, yet fru­gal and pre­cious this year. What about let­ting the kids bake per­son­ally de­signed cook­ies for your loved ones? Or use avail­able items and get go­ing with your own arts and crafts (aka cre­ative per­sonal touch) skills to make or­na­ments, book­marks, coast­ers, or jew­ellery items?

Although the above tips are merely a drop in the bucket, don't you think now is the time to get your own, per­son­alised Christ­mas ac­tion plan go­ing? If you pre-plan your

2018 Christ­mas well, you will not only ease your pocket and nerves, but also set up for many more rand-wise (and min­i­mum-debt) Christ­mases to come.

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