End of year celebrations can be expensive. The strain on monthly income around December is huge as many fall into the trap of overspending. Getting paid early in December doesn’t help the situation either. You only have 45 days before you see your next salary again in January.
But there are ways to protect yourself from the January financial blues. Ocean Finance – a UK-based financial institution – suggests a thorough analysis of one’s finances before embarking on the December celebrations.
“There are many opportunities to make better use of your finances this month, and they could be the start of long-term habits that will allow you to improve your money management,” notes the institute.
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But the average South African has his own tried and true way of getting through the festive season without shooting himself in the foot for January.
That’s how teams work Citizens survives the summer slump until January.
Some of us get it right. Others are still working on it.
Faizel Patel (Senior Digital Journalist): “Before December even arrives, I create two very strict budgets. One for December itself and one for January. The thing is, when you have young kids at school, you need cash — not just for the celebrations, but for School fees, uniforms and stationery. I plan for those items first. Then I pay the usual monthly December bills (utilities, groceries, etc.) With the leftover money I use it for the holiday season,” he said.
Neo Sekai (sub-editor): “I stay at home as much as possible. I don’t subscribe to the ke Dezemba lifestyle that much. I’m budgeting for new clothes for my daughter for Christmas and New Year’s Eve lunch. But that’s about it. I find ways to keep the family entertained during all the celebrations at home. It works like magic.”
Amanda Watson (News Editor): “I have a lock-in system on my December salary that will help me get through January. I take the part that January needs and lock it in a savings account so it’s not easily accessed. I also pay deposit payments early so I don’t default. Bounties are usually used for the Christmas celebrations.”
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Earl Coetzee (Digital Editor): “I treat December like any other month. It’s about perspective. If you don’t see it as a “necessary festive expense,” keep an eye on your monthly expenses. It helps to keep track of everything in January.”
Ayanda Sitole (Social Media Strategist): “I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but a bonus helps a lot with those Christmas issues that are popping up. That way you don’t “exert yourself.”
Gareth Cotterell (Editor of the Newsroom): “I am as disciplined as possible when buying Christmas presents. I keep it simple This helps avoid tapping into the January portion of the monthly budget.”
Cheryl Kahla (Audience Strategist): “When it comes to buying gifts, the Secret Santa thing always helps. It helps us set a budget and pushes people to really look for something thoughtful, funny, or whimsical. We always do this. If impulsive spending is a problem, I freeze my credit card. Literally. I put it in a mason jar, filled it with water and put it in the freezer.”
Narissa Subramoney (Associate Editor): This savvy saver has a foolproof plan that focuses on a strategy centered around gift-buying, travel and vacations, and a back-to-school plan. “I start planning for December in July,” she explains.
For a full rundown of Narissa’s Christmas Season Survival Guide, click here.