By Juggie Govender of East Coast Financial Services (Pty) Ltd – FSP 44760THERE is usually a spike in debt assistance enquiries after the festive season.With the festive season around the corner, we expect consumers will be tightening their belts a lot sooner than in other years, due to increased economic and financial hurdles. The VAT increase that took effect in April this year, coupled with SA slumping into a recession a few months later, as well as continuous fuel increases, is taking their toll on consumers. To avoid the end of year and especially New Year money blues, it is important for consumers to take the appropriate measures to remain in control of their finances.Here are some tips to stay out of debt this festive season. Put the plastic away Commit to not using your credit card this festive season. Buying on credit makes it very easy to get into further debt, and if you cannot afford to pay what you owe on your credit card at the end of the month, the deficit will grow and you will end up owing more and more. Draw up a holiday budget Contrary to popular belief, a budget is not there to deprive you of the good life. Rather, it helps you enhance your lifestyle by guiding you to spend more purposefully and to help you keep track of where your money is going. Draw up a holiday budget which includes all your expenses. Prioritise the most important ones and see if there are any areas where you can save. Home is where the heart is For a lot of us, the best part about the holiday season is that we get to spend quality time with those we love most. This quality time beats exotic holiday destinations or expensive gifts. When we reflect on what really makes us happy during the holiday season, spending money suddenly seems a lot less important. It is never too late If you feel as though you are drowning in debt before the festive season has even begun, use this time to take steps toward seeking help with your finances. Understanding Needs vs Wants Needs In actuality, you only need four things to survive — a roof over your head, enough food and water to maintain your health, basic health care and hygiene products, clothing (just what you need to remain comfortable and appropriately dressed). Wants Everything that goes beyond this — a big house, name-brand clothes, fancy foods and drinks, and a new car — is a want. Does that mean that you should only buy the things that you need? Not at all. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. Treat yourself to some wants along the way, but do so when you can afford to, and enjoy those wants as the extras that they are.This article is an excerpt from FIN24 and The BalanceYou could contact me at 083 399 3905, my office at 032 944 3051/ 073 873 6927 or e-mail me at Disclaimer: The information is only intended to be of a general nature and should not be relied upon by any part without obtaining full details from a licensed financial service provider.