Beware of Xmas spending fever

2010-12-11 10:56

The cash windfall generated by the additional funds that many employees get in ­December can be followed by a dry January – the longest month of the year.

A tough January is usually brought about by uncontrolled spending sprees triggered by the availability of extra ­money during the festive season.

Peter Setou of the National Credit Regulator ­cautions ­consumers to be extra careful this year because of additional financial pressures brought about by job losses and the ­soccer World Cup-related ­spending, some of which was unbudgeted for.

“Buying gifts for loved ones is not a bad idea, but consumers need to know what they are ­getting themselves into.
They should avoid giving debt as a gift,” he says.

The temptation to get into ­unplanned debt can be ­increased by the enticing ­Xmas decorations at malls and ­shopping centres.

“Do not bow to social ­pressure this season. Spend within your means.

“Draw up a budget and pay off as much debt as possible ­before splashing out on presents and celebrations.

“Debt-stressed consumers should explain their situation to credit providers,” says ­Setou.

He reminds consumers that there is no break for everyday expenses such as water and electricity, stressing that these bills need to be paid.

Director of banking products at Standard Bank, Sugendhree Reddy, says one of the very best gifts anyone can receive this ­festive season is extra money.

She advises that the money should be used as an extra ­payment towards a bond or car repayment or be deposited into an investment account.

“This will allow you to save on interest charges.

“And if you get into tight times next year, you can skip a payment or two without ­affecting your credit ratings.

“In effect, you will be giving yourself loan facilities for the future,” says Reddy.

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