CAPE TOWN - Most of us manage to make it through the first part of the year sticking to our budgets and keeping track of spending. But during December, financial restraint seems to fly out the window as we get caught up in the festive spirit, overspend and end up facing some serious debt in January. We have put their heads together and drawn up a list of tips of how to survive the festive season with the minimum amount of damage to your wallet.
- As with most things, it's a good idea to plan your holiday spending, so you won't get a nasty shock when you see your credit card bill in January. Set a budget and stick to it so you can keep track of everything you spend. It can also help you identify where you can cut down on certain expenses in order to have more money available for special treats during the festive season.
- Plan your route through the shopping mall or supermarket. Retailers make it their business to make it as easy as possible for you to spend as much as possible. They belt out cheesy music, host 'market stalls', run promotions and encourage stores to run specials. It is easy to get sucked into buying things you don't need and had no intention of buying originally. Don't buy a product that you would not normally use, just because it's on special offer. There can be some great offers out there, but only take advantage of it if it's for products that you need or had planned to buy anyway.
- It's a really good idea to do a comparison price check on goods before you buy an item, to work out where you can get the best price. Buying goods online often works out much cheaper than buying them in a physical store. If you have time, you can even track the prices on offer and grab a great deal when it comes along.
- Original, handmade gifts are often far more appreciated than store-bought ones: We know it sounds like a cliché and we're not suggesting you crochet a lace doily for anyone, but giving something of yourself can be a very welcome gift. If you know an overworked single mom - give her a voucher offering to babysit for an evening; or if you're handy with a hammer, offer your services and toolkit to someone who could do with some DIY help.
- If you decide to go the gifts route our advice is to not waste money on expensive wrapping paper, ribbons and cards. You could wrap gifts in pieces of newspaper and decorate them with fresh or dried flowers from your garden. It's far more original than those overpriced rolls of wrapping paper in the shops.
- If you have the family descending on you for the season -it's a good idea to try and buy certain supplies in bulk. Stock up on toilet paper, toothpaste, beans, rice, cereal and tinned goods, before my family arrives - it works out much cheaper and stops you from having to go to the supermarket everyday while they're visiting.
- When you are given a truly awful gift that you will never use - don't hide it away at the back of your cupboard, rather re-gift it! Wrap it up and give it to someone else who might really appreciate it. You may know someone who would really appreciate it.