I begin with a *sigh* as we approach the holiday season.
I have seen how some people work so hard all year, and look forward to a nice break in December.
Then those same people take their hard-earned money and plough it all into travel, food, drinks, clothes and (sometimes useless/unnecessary) gifts for one day, then in January, visit banks, loan sharks, family and friends for extra cash to make ends meet.
It just does not make any sense!
Yet year after year, they repeat the same pattern. Thus, those who plan and budget carefully have named it the silly season!
People need to start planning!
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having a bash with family and friends, but don't do it out of budget...plan for it!
Don't spend blindly then count your loss in January when schools are threatening to send your kids home, and your rent/bond are due. Debts don't go on holiday, unfortunately.
A good tip is to start by setting aside money to cover your usual monthly expenses, then budget for your holiday spending based on what is left.
This works especially if you work for an organisation that pays December salaries earlier than the normal payday. Also, avoid buying on credit outside of your normal monthly spend, as you will simply find yourself even heavier in debt in January.
Don't let the new year creep in and find you holding your head in your hands as you try to figure out how to make ends meet.
Be wise with your money, do not become a 'silly season statistic'. It will cause you to start the new year on a sour note, and that can ruin your plans for the year.
Spend with your eyes open, remember that retailers have spent a lot of time and money planning on how to 'relieve' you of your hard-earned money.
Music, lighting, decor, shop arrangements, late night shopping, promotions are all designed to encourage you to spend more, so be careful when shopping.
Next year, try to plan for your holidays earlier.
Have a 'holiday fund' where you can put aside money each month, or join a legitimate stokvel or investment group where your money will earn interest.
All in all, I wish you all happy holidays, drive safely, be vigilant at all times and most of all, enjoy!