December is a few days away and I am so excited! I absolutely love this time of year – the weather has warmed up, the days are longer, there is festive music playing, people are winding down and getting ready for the holidays and all of this just puts a massive smile on my face.
BUT, along with that comes the increase in spending and the pressures on your budget so how do you keep that in check? How do you ensure that you keep the joy during the festive season without putting yourself in financial distress when you start the new year? It can be a bit of a balancing act but it is definitely not impossible. Here are some tips:
- Decide on a spending plan
I don’t want to use the word “budget” here, because it sometimes has a negative connotation and I don’t want any negativity during this time of the year. That being said, drawing up a spending plan is key for your financial situation in general and also for this time of the year. Determine how much you can spend on gifts, food, holiday accommodation, travelling, activities etc. and then stick to that.
- Don’t overspend on gifts
- Limit the number of gifts
If you can’t afford to buy gifts for everyone you know, then don’t do it. Have a conversation with your family and friends and come to an agreement on who you are buying gifts for and who you aren’t. This way you avoid the awkwardness when someone gives you a gift and you don’t have anything for them, and you don’t go into debt if you don’t need to.
You could also do “Secret Santa” or “Chinese Auction” – this way everyone gets a gift without anyone having to overspend.
- Set a gift budget
Once you have decided how many gifts you are buying, set a limit for each gift. I love giving gifts so I know that I can go overboard, but it isn’t necessary. Set a limit that you are comfortable with and make sure it fits into you overall spending plan. For example, if you have determined that you can spend R1 000 on gifts and you need to buy 5 gifts then you have around R200 per gift, if you need to buy 10 gifts then you can only spend R100 per gift – be strict with yourself!
- DIY gifts
Pinterest is an amazing platform to use to find DIY gift ideas. There is absolutely no shame in making something for someone as a gift, most people will feel really special that you put so much time and effort into it. Instead of overspending, leverage your time rather. Who knows, you may discover a hidden talent.
- Gift of time
Time is something that you can never get more of so giving that as a gift can be more valuable than any gift you could buy. Get creative with the gift of time – give it in the form of a voucher for a picnic, a day out or even babysitting for friends or family that have small children.
- Share the costs
You don’t need to be a hero and offer to pay for everything. I am officially releasing you of that obligation. A lot of people have had a tough 2 years so if you are not in a position to be able to comfortably carry all the costs, then don’t do it. Where possible, carpool with people or share the costs of food and activities.
- Keep track of spending
All the little things add up very quickly so make sure that you are always on top of what you have spent and know how much is left of your budget. You don’t want to get to January and realise that you have completely blown your budget and have started the year with a significant amount of debt that could have been avoided.
- Don’t fall for the “specials”
Make sure that you are being vigilant when it comes to shopping all the holiday specials and sales. When you go to the shops, go with a list and stick to your list. Don’t be tempted to buy unnecessary things just because they make it look so enticing and it says that you are saving 20% – you are actually still spending 80% on something you didn’t need.
It may feel like I have taken all the fun out of the holidays but I really hope that I haven’t. This can be an amazing time without having to go into debt or overspend. Remember that you want to start 2022 on the right foot. Alternatively, if you are in the position to spend a little extra this holiday season, keep in mind that others may not be in the same position so bless others where you can.