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How To Create A Festive Season Budget And Reward Yourself Wisely

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The countdown to the festive season has started. Many South Africans are looking forward to some holiday downtime after a stressful year at work, while also trying to keep up with the soaring cost of food, fuel and electricity.

With the end of the year in sight, the temptation to throw caution to the wind, overspend, and live for the moment is heightened.

Shafeeka Anthony, Marketing Manager of consumer finance website JustMoney.co.za, says it’s easy to get carried away in the lead-up to the holidays. Fun family gatherings, post-Covid parties, and purchasing gifts to treat family and friends can make you forget the financial responsibilities awaiting you in 2023.

The good news is that, with careful planning and budgeting, you can still reward yourself and your family and have a relaxing break. JustMoney offers the following tips for happy holidays.

  1. Budget before you spend: If you haven’t already drawn up a household budget, this is the time to start. Go over your bank statements and track your income and expenditure. Identify regular, high-priority bills such as your home loan, and estimate your monthly expenses. Debt doesn’t go on holiday; you will still have loans to pay off.
  1. Compare prices: Having determined your needs, shop around for the best deals and negotiate where possible before making a purchase. Be careful of “buy now, pay later” deals, which often attract high charges. Compare prices online and keep in mind that you could benefit from Black Friday deals on, and leading up to, 25 November.
  1. Plan your holiday meals: Do an audit on your fridge, freezer and pantry – you may be surprised at what’s stashed away. This will prevent you from dashing out for items you already have. Make a list of ingredients and don’t shop hungry. Ask guests to bring a dish instead of trying to prepare everything yourself.
  1. Be creative with gifts: Source favourite family recipes and make delectable jams and chutneys, biscuits and preserves. Buy attractive containers, make a customised gift tag, and create your own wrapping paper by carving a stamp or using a ready-made stencil.
  1. Plan a staycation: Organise a hike, or a visit to the beach, museum or botanical gardens, and search online for free events such as jazz in a park or city festive light displays.
  1. Diminish debt: If you are fortunate enough to receive a bonus or 13th cheque, use it wisely. Pay off high-interest debt first, then boost savings and investments.
  1. Donate wisely: Before supporting a charitable cause, ensure that the organisation is properly registered and governed. Charitable giving can be tax-deductible, so request a Section 18A certificate and file it.

“Having planned for the holidays, it’s a good time to lay a strong foundation for 2023,” says Anthony. “Requesting quotes and comparing prices now could lead to savings that will add up over the coming year.”

Obtain several insurance quotes for your car and home. Check when your cell phone and internet packages are due for renewal, and look out for better offers. Speak to your bank or check a price comparison site to see which bank account would best suit your needs. If the health status of you or your family has changed, you may benefit from changing your medical aid package.

Having completed your planning, be sure to reward yourself. Meeting a money milestone calls for a celebration.

Fitness equipment, such as a yoga mat or a set of weights, could be a treat now and an investment in your health. A cooking, craft or photography course could spark a new interest and lead to a lucrative side hustle.

Anthony offers a final piece of advice:

“The year-end is a good time to schedule an appointment with a financial adviser. Objective advice from a reputable, qualified professional will alert you to any changes needed in your lifestyle, policies and investments, and provide added peace of mind.”

JustMoney.co.za, established 15 years ago, is a trusted voice within the personal finance sector. The JustMoney website offers articles, money management tools and a wide range of financial products and services. Over 200,000 South Africans subscribe to the newsletter to stay informed and become financially savvy. Find the website here.

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