Put up your hand if it’s been a long year and you are really looking forward to some time off this December? If you are lucky enough to be taking some leave, the chance to substitute work shoes for a pair of flip-flops, while reaching into the cooler for an ice cold beer, is so close you can almost taste it. It doesn’t matter if you are laying low at home over the festive season or if you are part of the annual migration around the country, it’s time for a little well-earned rest and relaxation with family and friends.
Now we don’t mean to take the wind out of your sails, but have you considered January for a split second? Probably not, but it’s our job to give you a gentle reminder.
It’s not an easy month, is it?
Christmas is quickly followed by New Year and before you know it the car is fuelled up and you are heading home to face another year. The “rustig” feeling that’s seeped into your bones is fast being replaced by an overwhelming sense of anxiety. The anxiety is brought on by the realisation that January is going to be a long month and you might have spent too much on having a good time over the festive season.
Unless you want to burn a hole in your credit card this January and end up paying it back over the rest of the year, listen up for a second.
Here are a few “money savvy” tips that will allow you to push through January without drawing from your savings or worse yet, borrowing it.
- Park the 13th cheque
If you are lucky enough to be working for a company that is handing out a 13th cheque, count yourself lucky. The temptation will be to blow it all. You need to muster up a little steely resolve and think about how useful that money might be mid-January when the only thing you can throw on the dinner plate is a pack of chicken noodles with a side of stale salticracks. Take some of the money and treat yourself and your family, but park a little of the extra cash for January.
- Have a great time on a budget
It’s easy to get carried away over the festive season. The sun is out, the kids are having a ball and opting for a dinner out, instead of knocking out a braai at home (the original plan), is the type of thing we all find ourselves doing without even thinking. Why don’t you set up a quick “holiday budget” this year? Your holiday rental and travel costs will be fixed expenses. Where you are likely to overspend are on the variable expenses like entertainment. Decide how much you can spend on entertainment each day and stick to your budget. Instead of blowing R300 a day at the beach café buying burgers, chips and a coke, pack a lunch for the kids and take a cooler down to the beach. You get the idea. Every R100 note you don’t end up spending is an extra R100 you’ll have in January.
- Maybe being together on holiday is the real Christmas gift
Talking about overspending over the festive season, here is the major culprit – buying expensive Christmas gifts you can’t really afford is a terrible idea. Do you have kids? Then this scenario isn’t going to be unfamiliar to you. On Christmas morning your living room floor is going to look like a warzone, but instead of bodies, wrapping paper will be evidence of the carnage that ensued 15 minutes earlier. It’s a frenzy, but the worst part is that in day or two your kids would have found that one toy has stolen their hearts and the balance of the stuff you spent hours sourcing online, and paying for, will be in a sad heap in the corner of your holiday apartment. Dropping thousands of Rand on Christmas gifts is likely to leave you in a hole in January. A good idea is to set some expectations and maybe letting your kids know that a holiday together with your family is part of their gift this year.
- Taking a holiday you can afford
If you have three weeks off at the end of this year, you might be thinking about taking a 3 week holiday. That’s all good and well if you can afford a three week holiday. Maybe two weeks at home with the kids and a week away is a more prudent decision. The problem with the ‘pushing the holiday further than your cash flow will allow’ is that it’s going to catch up with you in January. If you honestly can’t afford to go away, let the family know you are staying home and build some affordable activities into your time off. You know as well as we do that young kids are happy sitting in the back garden with the hose pipe on building mud pies with dad. An expensive luxury holiday apartment is lost on them and it counts less than you think. Take the holiday you can afford and make the most of it. Your family would be far happier in January without any financial stress in the house.
We would love to hear from you – how are you going to manage your personal finances this festive season so you can get through January.
Leave a comment below.
Until next time.
The Wise About Life Team