Thought Leadership: Be financially creative over Christmas to avoid a financial hangover in January
By Elzabé Theron, Financial Adviser at Sanlam.
This festive season may be less about what you want and more about what you have to be grateful for. Yet the economic realities of COVID-19 don’t have to mean cutting out festive spending altogether. You can get creative about saving money. Here are some suggestions on how you can create a memorable festive season for you and your family.
A critical step in the process is to do some basic financial planning before the festive season to ensure you set aside sufficient funds for January’s expenses.
1. Be creative with your festive season meals for the family.
Remember, the festive season means shops will have festive season prices, too. But just because something is on special doesn’t mean you have to buy it! Draw up a list before you go shopping, don’t shop for food when you’re hungry, and stick to the list in your hand. Also, make sure no food goes to waste – be creative with leftovers.
2. Don’t break the bank on the perfect gift.
Let’s say your aunt enjoyed your mom’s banana bread last year, so write down the recipe for her on special paper, decorate it and gift it to her. If you have attractive glass jars, fill them with jam or peaches and give a family member something home-made as a gift. It’s all about creativity and thoughtfulness.
3. Entertaining is expensive, so co-host.
Entertaining friends and family is an expensive affair. Co-hosting festive parties, lunches or braais with others might be the way to go. Organise a bring-and-share at this year’s family gatherings by suggesting everyone contributes a dish. However, while you are at it, be sure to stick to the Covid-19 health protocols of allowable maximum gathering, social distancing and washing of hands.
4. Reconsider this year’s festive trip with the family.
Apart from the imperative to stay safe, a COVID-19 festive season presents you with an ideal opportunity to make the most of your area. You don’t have to spend money to travel to have a good time. Find the nearest park or beach to go and relax. Remember to comply with the current COVID-19 regulations by practising social distancing and wearing a mask when outside near others. Alternatively, hit a hiking trail in your area – an excellent way to save money and work off the Christmas pudding while you’re at it.
5. Use cash for unavoidable essential items.
For those essential items, pack your credit card away. Buy with cash, and even then only take the cash that’s in your budget with you. In this way, you can avoid a budget hangover in January.
It has been a challenging and long year in which many people have suffered job losses and salary cuts. You deserve to relax and spend time with your loved ones, but remember that it will only be a good memory if you go about it responsibly. So continue to budget carefully and count your blessings rather than your gifts.