While most people can hardly wait for the holidays to start in earnest, this time of the year also comes with a heavy financial burden for many consumers.
“In spite of the holidays being a period for people to recharge and reflect ahead of the New Year, it is always characterised by excessive spending. Generally, most people who work in South Africa’s main economic hubs such as Joburg, Durban and Cape Town usually go back home, and the expectation is that they have lots of money to spend,” says Eunice Sibiya, Head: Consumer Education at FNB.
The expectation is usually far from reality as the cost of living in these respective cities is relatively high, taking a toll on disposable income.
Sibiya says the onus to manage expectations lies with each individual, and says the following tips could be handy in helping you come out of the summer holidays financially unscathed:
Drop the act
Some people often act as if they have more money than they actually do. However, the best approach is to always spend within your budget and not be tempted to spend excessively purely to impress those around you.
Apart from unforeseen emergencies, holiday season expenses such as buying gifts and clothes for kids can be planned for well in advance. Try not to go overboard by buying expensive items.
Creativity can save you money, especially where family entertainment is concerned. Summer holidays usually bring good, sunny weather and South Africa’s provinces have some of the best parks for an outing without blowing your budget. For larger gatherings, request other members to bring a meal or dish to share the catering costs.
Stick to the plan
Before taking a well-deserved rest, plan your downtime and try to stick to your plans as much as possible.
Spend wisely knowing that summer holidays are long, and they can seem even longer when you have no money to use in January. Avoid starting the year with a major financial headache; keep money aside for back-to-school expenses and to travel to work.
“A different mind-set around this time of the year is necessary. In the midst of the festive season buzz, people often forget what is important, which is to spend time with family while recharging after a long year. All these important things can be done without spending money and when people feel the need to spend money, they can still do so without compromising their financial security,” says Sibiya.