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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.