Although there is usually a spike in debt assistance enquiries after the festive season, that spike has come earlier this year, according to Ian Wason, CEO of the Intelligent Debt Management (IDM) Group.
"From September this year, we've been experiencing an unusual spike in debt management enquiries – up to 20% more than last year this time," says Wason.
With the festive season around the corner, he therefore expects that consumers will be tightening their belts a lot sooner than in other years, due to increased economic and financial hurdles.
He believes 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, are 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.
Wason offers some tips to stay out of debt this festive season:
Put the plastic away
Commit to not using your credit card this festive season, Wason advises.
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.