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Glamour (South Africa) - - #Think - Words by YOLISA MJAMBA

Dur­ing this time of the year, hav­ing that per­fect beach hol­i­day snap is es­sen­tial. Com­ing back to work with tales of your trav­els? A must. But don’t go broke try­ing to give the il­lu­sion of the per­fect life. Sharelle Oliver, fi­nan­cial ex­pert at Fer­gu­son Ad­vi­sors, is of­fer­ing tips on how to avoid debt while try­ing to live your best life this fes­tive season. 1 Stop try­ing to keep up with the Jone­ses

The first per­sonal change I would sug­gest is for you to be re­al­is­tic with your­self about your cir­cum­stances. Yes, trendy items or events are al­ways fun and make you feel in­cluded, but you have to live within your means. Fol­low­ing trends on so­cial me­dia can make you feel like you need to pur­chase that new item, but don’t give into this, es­pe­cially if your wal­let can­not cater to it. Of course, every­body wants to look great and have a good time dur­ing this season, but spend­ing way too much on clothes, shoes and en­ter­tain­ment for the pur­pose of mak­ing your life ap­pear a cer­tain way to oth­ers can quickly de­plete your funds. Prac­tice some re­straint, it will def­i­nitely be bet­ter for you. Rather spend time with your loved ones in­stead of a night out. And re­mem­ber: In­sta­gram is not an ac­cu­rate de­pic­tion of some­one’s real life.

2 get Creative

At one stage or an­other, we’ve all been guilty of spend­ing money when we know we shouldn’t be­cause we’re think­ing of short­term sat­is­fac­tion and don’t want to miss out when our friends are do­ing some­thing. My ad­vice in th­ese cir­cum­stances would be to be hon­est with your mates about not be­ing able to go out, then come up with cost-ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tives that will still al­low you to spend time to­gether. Maybe host a din­ner at your place and ask ev­ery­one to bring one item to con­trib­ute to­wards the din­ner. You can al­ter­nate the stay-at-home din­ners so it’s not al­ways on you, that way you have balance be­tween go­ing out and stay­ing at home. If you’re plan­ning to go on a hol­i­day, make sure to keep your itin­er­ary sim­ple. In­volve ac­tiv­i­ties that aren’t costly, but are still fun to do. For ex­am­ple, you could go on a hike or spend the af­ter­noon at the beach. It’s a great way to ex­plore the des­ti­na­tion while keep­ing fit and hav­ing fun. Tour the lo­cal scenery and see what’s on of­fer, you can learn so much and have great sto­ries to tell when you get back.

3 have a Sav­ings plan

Plan your trip well in ad­vance so you have more time to save and don’t have to put extra pres­sure on your wal­let at the last minute. Con­sider putting funds away in a onemonth fixed de­posit that you won’t have ac­cess to with­out the bank’s au­tho­ri­sa­tion un­til the time you need it. I also sug­gest invit­ing as many friends along as pos­si­ble, so you can split the ac­com­mo­da­tion costs be­tween the group, which will work out cheaper for ev­ery­one in­volved. But don’t go over­board just be­cause you’ve saved up. Jan­uary al­ways proves to be a tough month for most peo­ple, so make sure you’re well equipped for the im­pend­ing ex­penses and make sure you avoid cre­at­ing debt for your­self by not giv­ing in to the end­less ‘buy now, pay later’ year-end deals.

4 pri­ori­tise your ex­pen­di­ture

Al­ways pri­ori­tise set­tling your debt first. If you don’t have any debt that you need to set­tle, in­vest it. If you’re lucky enough to get a De­cem­ber bonus, spend your money on im­prove­ments that you re­ally need and haven’t been able to af­ford dur­ing the year, like your home or car, be­fore splurg­ing on non-essen­tials. If you have kids, you’re go­ing to need school sup­plies when the new year starts, so set­ting funds aside for this or even pur­chas­ing th­ese items in De­cem­ber can re­ally help take the pres­sure off in the new year. Prepar­ing for Jan­uary is al­ways smart. Think of buy­ing gro­ceries that can get you through both De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, so that you have one less thing to worry about. Be­ing stress­free is the best way to en­joy your fes­tive season.

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