The festive season means a time of joy, celebration, and relaxation for many – however, this can also bring stress and frustration while managing finances along with gifts, travel expenses, and holiday plans.
Fortunately, there are several ways that you can budget and plan ahead to ensure that not only is your holiday season stress-free, but that you can set yourself up for success in the new year.
Let’s get started.
Budget and plan ahead
It’s easy to spend and splurge throughout the festive season – and when it comes to your finances, there’s no bigger benefit you can give yourself than by budgeting and planning ahead.
A budget doesn’t have to be a record of everything you’ve spent – but is rather a game plan that you can use to judge your own success and determine where you can spend less or more on each month. It can also help you maintain an expectation of what you intend to spend, and how you plan to manage your money.
It’s never too late to get started with budgeting, whether you’re a seasoned planner or are looking to get started, setting a working budget is the best way to manage your spending and finances. If you’d like to get started, our easy-to-use budgeting template is available as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet.
If you’re ready to take it one step further, you can take our 52-week savings plan, where you can save up to R14 000 per year.
Host ‘potluck’ gatherings
The festive season is a time for gift-giving and gatherings around lunch and dinner. If you plan to host or spend time with family, this can often bring with it the expense of planning meals, decorating, or organising transport.
When organising time with family or friends, consider hosting a ‘potluck’ gathering. Instead of having one person organise events or food and drink, each person attending can bring something to the event such as a gift, a meal, or even drinks and snacks. By doing so, you can ensure that all your guests contribute to a fun gathering and that no single person needs to bear the expense of hosting an event themselves.
Exchanging gifts can be a fun way to involve family and friends, and setting purchasing limits, such as a total amount a guest can spend on their gift, can help not only your budget, but can get friends and family involved in a fun activity.
Buy gifts ahead of time
Many stores and outlets expect to see increased shopping activity and purchases around the festive season, bringing in exciting and unusual products or raising their prices slightly to bring in more revenue. This means that you might end up spending more on gifts than usual over this period, placing strain on your budget and your finances.
Purchasing gifts every few months ahead of the festive season can help you plan your gifts and schedule your spending limits into your monthly budget. This helps ensure that you never splurge or overspend, and you can rest assured that by the arrival of the holiday season you’ll be prepared and ready to exchange gifts throughout the course of festivities and get-togethers.
Prioritise your repayments
Managing and prioritising your debt and your repayments is an important part of managing your finances which can help you spend less money in the long run, and allocate more funds to your festive season plans.
By exploring what repayments you need to make and categorising them from the highest to the lowest interest rate, you can opt to repay debt that has a higher interest rate and is likely to cost more the longer it is left unpaid or unsettled. By doing this, and ensuring that you settle debts that are due or outstanding, you can avoid attracting extra fees and interest that you might have paid otherwise.
You will also save on interest and fees if you are able to repay an active loan earlier. It’s worth checking with your lender what their terms and conditions are, and how you can prioritise a particular repayment.
Use reward schemes and vouchers
Reward schemes are usually a way for stores to change your buying behaviour and encourage you to purchase goods with them – however, many popular reward schemes can actually help you save money if you use them throughout the year. By shopping and saving either points or vouchers, you can put your benefits to use by the end of the year to purchase gifts and food for little-to-no cost, or for free!
Many popular supermarket chains such as Pick n Pay, Checkers, and Woolworths offer their own rewards programmes. They set up a reward structure where you are rewarded for following your own spending habits by either gathering points, or getting discounts on items you regularly purchase.
Be sure to check how your rewards are structured and if your reward points have any expiration date. By keeping an eye on this, you can avoid losing any benefits that you have gathered up until this point.
If you happen to have store vouchers, put them to use when buying gifts or hosting an event – you can add these benefits into your budget, and put your money to work elsewhere where it is needed.
Gifting around the festive season is a common cause of stress. Often, our Christmas gifting list might contain too many people - cutting back on that list and only gifting your immediate family, and budgeting for gifts for one or two other extended family members, could help you save money.
Your gifts do not always need to be the most expensive item you could find; rather, aim to purchase something that that person really would like. A straightforward way to reduce spending on items that might not be wanted is to ask each person you are giving a gift to what they would like most. Should they want an expensive item, you could consider pooling your budget with friends and family to give a combined gift.
Another way to reduce spending is the re-gift a present that was previously gifted to you. For example, if someone had gifted you with a voucher to a clothing store you don’t shop at frequently, consider giving that gift to someone else who might get significant use out of it.
Wrapping paper is another expense that ramps up our festive season spending. Reusing wrapping paper or gift bags is a great way to not only save money, but also the environment.