Saving this festive season

2014-12-15 14:00

Christmas is knocking at our doors, and tempting deals and sales abound. Here’s how to make sure you don’t end up with an empty wallet in January. Neesa Moodley reports


If you haven’t already prepared a festive season budget, it’s not too late.

Simply take into account the funds you have available to you and draw up a list of the expenses you need to set aside money for.

When you are doing this, don’t forget your money has to last you until the end of January – which is six weeks away. So maybe it’s a good idea to set aside funds now for all your January debit orders and budget for groceries during January.

Boitumelo Mothoagae, the head of customer relations management at Liberty, advises that you determine which of your expenses are “needs” and which are “wants”.

“Needs” typically include your bond/rent, petrol, groceries, insurance, investments and regular debit orders. Examples of “wants” include gifts, money for parties and entertainment costs.

Apportion your available income to the necessities. Ensure that you have allocated money for all of them.

“Also ensure that you have emergency money in case you have one over the festive season, for example, if your geyser bursts. Once you have done this, and you have some money left over, you can prioritise your wants,” she says.

If you can pay any of your bills upfront, do so now. For example, buy school uniforms and stationery now or set aside the money in a separate bank account or savings vehicle that you will not be accessing over the holidays.

Remember, you are only human and there will inevitably be purchases that are not already accounted for in your budget. To counter the effect of this, set aside “pocket money” for miscellaneous spending and stick to the budget.

If you have extra funds available, pay off outstanding credit balances such as those on your store card accounts and close these accounts if you can. You could also save up to 30% in costs if you arrange to pay your insurance premium upfront for the year.


The top money drainers over the festive season are typically parties, gifts and groceries, according to Mothoagae. But there are ways to work around this if you exercise some restraint and discipline.


“People get invited to parties and they will use more petrol to get there; buy new outfits; and buy snacks and alcohol for the parties. This might lead to overspending, not to mention the costs if you are hosting a party,” Mothoagae says.

If you are hosting, ask your guests to bring something along so everyone shares the costs.

If you are a guest, you should offer to take something, for example, a dessert or your own meat if it is a braai. Also offer to help your host set up for the party.


Buying gifts now may be more expensive because of the festive season mark-ups on goods. Instead of splurging on costly gifts, think out of the box. Make handmade gifts, which are more personal and thoughtful than generic gifts, with the bonus being you save money at the same time. Do your best to ignore the tempting credit advertisements and train yourself to be a disciplined spender.


Regardless of your religion, the festive season is typically a time of year when most people visit friends and family.

Remember that your children are going to be at home for a long holiday, so expect your grocery bill to shoot up accordingly. Instead of doing all your grocery shopping at one store for convenience, shop around for the best prices.

Hot savings tips

Use these hot tips to make the most of your money this holiday:

.?Don’t buy presents for everyone. Within your group of friends or family, decide that you’ll each buy one person a gift, and draw names out of a hat to determine who buys for whom.

.?Buy nonperishable Christmas gifts at the end of the festive season when the sales start.

.?Make your own wrapping paper by painting or drawing/colouring on paper or use old newspaper for a novel twist on gift wrap.

.?Cut up old Christmas cards to make gift tags.

.?Make your own Christmas decorations. Spray paint pine cones, for example.

.?Start a savings competition in your group of family or friends. The person who saves the most money or uses the least wins a prize. Even if you don’t win, you will have saved some money.

.?Fire up the braai or the potjie this holiday – you can save on electricity costs and also avoid being the victim of a load shedding disaster.

.?Leave your bank cards at home when you go shopping and take cash with you instead. This will help you stick to a budget.

.?If you are shopping online, remember to take into account delivery charges. If the website offers you free delivery in return for a basic spend amount, compare the amount you would have to spend to the delivery charge. It might be cheaper to simply buy only what you want and pay the delivery fee.


Sidebar: Holiday expenditure survey

The recently released Deloitte’s holiday survey reveals that most South Africans this year are choosing to forego travel and socialising in order to have more funds available for groceries over the festive season.

According to the survey, expenditure on food has jumped to 44% in 2014 compared to 36% last year while spending on socialising dropped to 13% from 23% in 2013. Nevertheless, consumers are still expected to allocate a significant portion of their holiday season budget to gifts with 43% of expenditure going towards presents in 2014, roughly similar to last year’s 42%.

Michael van Wyk, head of Deloitte’s in Stellenbosch, says South Africans have also ditched the sweet taste of chocolate for hard cash as the number one gift they are most likely to receive. No less than 39% of respondents indicated this, compared to 36% last year, which is followed by preferred gifts of chocolates (38%), books (36%) and clothing or shoes (34%).

“In line with the overall increase in the cost of living in South Africa over the past year, 66% of South African consumers surveyed have indicated that they are spending more on essential household expenses such as groceries and energy bills this year,” says Rodger George, African consumer business leader at Deloitte. “Consumers are showing signs of conservatism as general day-to-day living expenses continue to rise while consumers try to stretch their budgets as far as possible.”

The spending patterns in South Africa appear to mirror trends in Europe where consumers are also grappling with poor economic growth. Food (40%) and gifts (39%) are expected to account for the largest share of consumers’ wallets in Europe while travelling (12%) and socialising (9%) take a back seat for many this festive season.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.