As the year, and indeed, the decade winds down, you are likely one of millions around the country breathing a hefty sigh of relief. However, after a rollercoaster 2020, this December is likely to be somewhat different from previous years.
Most people are paid around mid-December. “If you are lucky enough to get a bonus this year, remember that it has to last you all the way through the festive season to the end of January when you receive your next pay check. That is a total of six weeks, including the Christmas/New Year period, where many tend to overspend on lavish gifts and entertainment costs,” cautions Susan Steward of Budget Insurance. Steward provided the following checklist to make sure you relax like a boss while ensuring you remain a boss going into January.
Budget … like a boss
· Work out what your January expenses are and set aside those funds in a separate bank account, so you don’t risk spending the money.
· Remember that in addition to regular monthly expenses, you may need funds for stationery and school uniforms as well as school fees in January. Check out the school second-hand shop. You can pick up reasonably priced uniforms, that are only likely to be used for one year or even just a few school terms.
· If you are hosting family for a Christmas lunch or dinner, make it a “bring and share”. Co-ordinate the different dishes guests bring so that you don’t end up with three roast chickens and no dessert.
Entertain … like a boss
· Host activities such as treasure hunts, board games, or outdoor picnics at a neutral venue such as a nearby park or the beach. Even a simple game like charades leads to plenty of fun and laughter.
· After a year fraught with financial problems, your extended family may not want flashy expensive gifts. Save your wallet and their pride with inexpensive, thoughtful gifts such as home-baked Christmas cookies or a handmade garden ornament.
· Have a movie fest – you could pick a theme such as Christmas movies, comedies, or romcoms. Break out the popcorn, and some freshly chilled juices or cold drinks.
Staycation … like a boss
· Recreate the spa experience in your own home. All you need are some fresh towels, scented candles, and soft music. Add in a bubble bath, a book and/or a glass of wine and you’ve got a personal spa day.
· Bring your ideal destination to your home. If, for example, you dreamt of going to Italy this year, use the internet to bring Italy to you instead. Find online recipes for authentic Italian dishes and have fun making them with your family. Play some Italian music via YouTube. You could even have an Italian themed movie night with flicks such as The Italian Job or the classic Godfather trilogy.
· Get the family to buy into a room service schedule and have turns to have breakfast served in bed, your bed made up and turned down for you. Everyone has a turn to feel a little pampered.
Road trip … like a boss
· If you are going to take a road trip, plot out your route. Plan your stops, set aside cash for any tolls and decide ahead of time where you are going to have your meals.
· Research by the AA shows that 90% of South Africans are keeping their cars for longer, with just over 40% keeping their cars for between five and ten years. “Make sure your car insurance is up to date and, find out about an extended warranty if you have an older car,” Steward advises. She notes that the older the vehicle, the higher the risk of a mechanical breakdown – often with parts that are expensive to repair.
· Ration out the games, books, and snacks so the kids don’t end up with a sugar rush plus boredom one hour into your ten-hour drive.
While 2020 has been stressful to say the least, you can use your December break to press the reset button without burning through your bank balance. “While most of the country will be taking a well-deserved break, remember that Covid is not on holiday. Mask up, maintain social distancing and stay safe,” Steward concludes.