Using your Christmas bonus wisely is a gift you can give to yourself

2010-12-18 09:10

I was recently surprised to hear a group of women talking about a Tupperware stokvel. I had not come across this topic in a long time.

I am aware of stokvels on blankets, linen, cutlery and even the cast-iron pots used to prepare food at weddings and funerals. But then again, I am still surprised no person has ever thought of a lobola stokvel.

African people will by nature share pain and sorrow in much the same way they celebrate joyous events. I mean, how else would you explain how total strangers are brought together by work, church or some form of social activity to club together to save money? There are many formations, especially women’s groups, that find some additional common need that is best tackled in a group.

This festive season, seven out of 10 people I know well will be attending weddings every weekend of this month.

At the same time, I have been invited to the year-end functions of many formations to give talks on aspects of financial planning and investments. I have also been asked to give advice on how to deal with bonuses.

This is a major topic during this period. Do you settle debts, pay cash for that “project”, take the family on holiday or just throw a big party?

It is never easy to respond to this because people have different challenges and different priorities.

The following suggestions are not in order of importance.

» If you can, defer the payment of your bonus until the New Year. We know very well that right now isn’t the right time to spend money as prices will be spiked to maximise profit. The real discounts only come in the New Year.

» Launch a school fund kitty in your society. After all, discipline for some of us only happens in these informal formations. Some people will default on car instalments, but will be up to date with society fees. Enhance the benefits of your society by planning for a school fund service.

» Do not be tempted to double your bonus through dubious schemes. My sister was telling me of a new “investment” doing the rounds in Kagiso, Mogale City, and surrounding areas. For only R2 700 and recruitment of two new members, you are guaranteed R180 000 in three months! Anything with disproportionate purchase price to return is worth nothing.

» Use your bonus to start the New Year in the black. Have cash and ensure that it lasts you beyond your next pay in January. The secret of saving is spending less than you earn.

» Keep good company. If you really have to host friends or family, it should be on the understanding that you will all share expenses. A salad, stew pot, bottles of refreshments or, better still, a home-made ginger ale goes a long way towards minimising expenditure. Sharing is a strength African people tend to understand.

» Travel to weddings in groups – in taxis or sharing a car – rather than each person driving their own car. This arrangement has the added advantage of ensuring there are fewer drunk drivers on our roads.

» Diale is a financial planner. He can be contacted on 078 775 0802

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