December is a notoriously expensive month and with Christmas gifts, feasts, holidays, and New Year’s Eve celebrations to pay for, it’s no wonder most South Africans find themselves financially limping through January. Here are five super achievable ways you can tidy up your finances before the holidays.
1. Plan and be a smart gift giver
Make a list of the people you plan on buying gifts for, but be discerning about who makes it onto that list. Then, instead of buying the first expensive thing that catches your eye, put a little thought and effort into the gifts. Do some research and some comparative online shopping to come up with gift ideas that are far more affordable. By planning your Christmas shopping list, you can easily shave R100+ off each gift and potentially save thousands.
2. Start your holiday shopping early
Imagine walking into December with most of your Christmas gifts already bought and wrapped. The earlier you start looking for presents, the more time you’ll have to shop more discerningly. You’ll also spread the cost out over a few months, which will be an enormous relief to your December finances. Don’t wait until the week before Christmas to crash buy all your gifts. You’ll only end up spending far more money than you intended to out of sheer desperation to get it all done in time.
3. Renegotiate your insurance policies
People all-to-often sign up for insurance and then leave it in place for years without review. In the meantime, your premiums increase, while the value of your car and your home’s contents devalue. To save money going into the festive season, review your insurance coverage and do a little comparative shopping by comparing your policies to at least three different providers. You could find yourself reducing your policies by hundreds of Rands per month or, worst-case scenario, discover that you’ve got the best plan in place.
4. Spread the festive responsibilities
If you have traditionally hosted the Christmas and New Year celebrations at your home, it’s time to shake things up a bit. Speak to friends and family and decide who can host what so that you don’t have to absorb 100% of the costs. Alternatively, if you’ve got the best home for such celebrations, you can ask people to contribute food, decorations, beverages, etc. to help spread the costs.
5. Consolidate unused bank accounts
Do you have savings or investment accounts standing empty, or credit cards you’re trying to avoid using? Making a list of all your bank, investment, credit card and retirement accounts can help you to put your financial affairs into better perspective, and going into the new year, help to declutter your money matters. Close off those old accounts that you’re no longer using, especially if they’re costing you monthly fees. Also, close off credit card accounts you can do without, thereby reducing the temptation to land yourself in fresh debt in the New Year.