It's not that we set out to be wasteful in December. Living is just expensive – often much, much more than we'd budgeted.
Which is why, despite our best intentions, many of us end up broke in January after a festive season of spending on much-needed quality time and travel with friends and family.
It is possible to break this cycle, however. And it starts with the small things, according to financial expert and podcaster Thobelani Thwala.
He shares five straight-forward and practical ways to avoid re-creating the same bad financial patterns this year.
1. Stay away from payday loans
These are commonly offered by microlenders (credit providers other than your normal banks) at a very high interest rate with payment expected at the end of the month. The interest rate here can go up to 60% per annum.
"I would advise against these completely as they are a trap," says Thobelani.
"One often finds themselves going back for more as you are left with very little money after your payment and that puts you in a pickle with no choice, but to go back for more again. Then that becomes a vicious cycle."
2. 13th cheque
Ask your employer about saving a portion of your salary to which you will only have access in January as a "bonus".
"A lot of organisations have thirteenth cheque option that helps you save a portion of your income monthly and only have access to it at the end of the year or early January," explains Thobelani.
"This is mostly available and optional as the employer won’t impose it on you as an employee. However, if you ask your human resources offers, they can explain what options are available for you."
3. Make saving a habit
Saving can be fun! Start by putting coins and a little change away in a 2 litre bottle or an old ice cream tub and focus on the end goal to avoid "dipping into it".
"One should always have a savings goal in mind and go on to taking practical steps and make it happen," according to Thobelani.
"The importance of putting money away for hedging against unforeseen circumstances, buying of assets, investment opportunities, provision for retirement, etc. cannot be overemphasised. You can start with as little as possible and gradually build from there, but you need to start."
4. Make a list when going shopping and stick to it
Essentials such as food, transport and keeping a roof over your head are the things that can leave you broke.
Although things may end up costing more than you'd budgeted with the constantly rising food prices, sticking to a list when shopping is still vital.
This is because going shopping with no plan always results in overspending because "shops strategically position certain merchandise to lure shoppers into buying things that they don’t necessarily need", explains Thobelani.
5. Start living within your means
Keeping up with the Dlaminis is never a good idea. Don’t buy the things you can’t afford because your neighbour has them, the financial planner warns.
"My advice would be to find ways of being savvy and learn to live within your means. Simple things such as taking lunch to work instead of buying food every day would save you a great deal of money. Opt for buying in cash rather than on credit, and look for discounts.
"Cancel all memberships and contracts that you don’t use," he adds.
"Since these are automated, most people don’t think about cancelling them. You can start running or buy gym equipment for home as well as choose not to renew your cellphone contract and start using prepaid for example."