Get The Best Out Of Your Festive Spending

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Getting caught up in the fun of the end-of-year holiday season isn’t difficult. When friends are around, the kids are having a good time, and work is far away, it’s easy to spend that plastic money– even knowing that in a few weeks, you will face a long, moneyless January and ask yourself, ‘How did this happen?’

John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual, says the answer is simple. You have let the prospect of a great time lead you when everything is designed to encourage you to spend. But, he says, there are ways to shop and enjoy your holiday by adopting a year-end holiday plan earlier in the year.

“It’s simple,” he says. “Put in a little planning, spend ahead and avoid the post-holiday financial stress.”

To have a pain-free December holiday, think about these things, he says.
  • Setting a realistic budget that covers all aspects of the holiday. Think about the most important thigs first such as your shelter, groceries, water and lights, school stationery and uniform then gifts, and entertainment later. Set a realistic budget and stick to it.
  • Look for sales and discounts and remember that end-of-year sales are there to get rid of old stock.
  • By agreement with the family, set a top limit on the value of presents. That way everybody’s budget score. If you can make your own presents even better.
  • Cut costs on holiday meals by planning a menu and cooking at home with ingredients that are on sale.
  • Use rewards and loyalty programmes. It’s the best time of year to redeem points for gifts or discounts, and take advantage of cashback offers to reduce holiday expenses.
  •  Avoid impulse buying. If you are tempted to buy something, give yourself a cooling-off period before you buy.
  • Shop with a list. Planning before you hit the shops means staying focused. A list will help you avoid temptation.

“On holiday, it’s easy to spend, spend, and then spend some more,” says Manyike. “What is a week away from home if the kids can’t buy takeaways for themselves and their friends when they want them?”

Getting financially wise about planning that family holiday doesn’t mean cutting back on the fun.

“Think about booking ahead. The earlier you confirm your holiday, the earlier you can pay it off. If ‘you pay now and enjoy later ‘instead of ‘enjoying now and paying later’, your year-end holiday will be more relaxed.” If you are late in planning a festive holiday this year consider shifting your focus to next year if your destiny permits.

“Other benefits of acting early are that more money will be available for the family because the holiday is prepaid. The earlier that bookings are made for flights, the cheaper they are. Using rewards points accumulated during the year can also reduce these costs,” says Manyike.

For the holiday, he says, consider:

  • Using the budget to teach children the basics of money management by giving a fixed pocket money rather than allowing them to spend as they please. If they exhaust the budget do not refill.  They can spend as they want, but will soon learn to be mindful of spending too much, too fast.

“Of course, choosing a ‘staycation’ is the best way to have a great money-friendly holiday. You get several benefits by staying at home while everyone else is away. You can use uncrowded facilities, have time to reflect on your life and vision.

“Seriously, though, if you have had a tough year financially and are dreading the costs of that family holiday, use your imagination, plan some events and enjoy being at home. That beach will still be there for you next year,” says Manyike.  

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