The holidays are meant to be a time where you kick off your shoes and relax. The sad reality, however, is that a lot of South Africans more are already worried about the financial stress the holidays tend to bring. Consider the higher-than-normal grocery expenses, gifts and travelling etc., and the festive season can seem more like a curse than a blessing.

I don’t know about you, but every time I go back to the village where I grew up, I always feel compelled to buy more so my parents can share with as many people as possible. Don’t even get me started on black tax! Many people want to help their families enjoy this time of year, which only adds to the financial pressure.

To add salt to the wound, your salary has to stretch from the start of the festive season until the end of the ‘silly’ season. That’s almost almost 45 days until your next payday!

According to a survey, most South African salaries last until the 15th of the month after paying for big-ticket items such as bond/rent, transportation, groceries, etc., which means that most consumers survive from payday to payday.

It is therefore important to plan how you will handle your finances during the holidays. Going in with a plan reduces your chances of overspending and having to worry about how you are going to make it through January. 

  1. Budget

    The holiday budget is very different different to the normal budget you have drawn up for the rest of the year. The holidays are all about entertaining friends and family, travelling and lots of feasting — out of the ordinary experiences that do not come cheap. That is why it is important to draw up a budget specifically for this period.

    One of the best ways to make sure you stick to your budget and don’t suffer from a financial hangover in January, is to create pockets of savings for yourself.

    For example, with an African Bank MyWORLD account, you can open up a Savings Pocket and a Power Pocket, which gives you the ability to save and bank online. This is a great safety feature, especially during the festive season, where we are always advised to be more vigilant. Walking around with wads of cash is dangerous.

    You can use the Savings Pocket to stash away money for those January expenses. This not only guarantees that you will have money saved for all the important things, but you’ll also be able to grow your money with SA’s best interest rate.

  2. Avoid expensive gifts

    Instead of gifting your loved ones with expensive gifts, try going for experiences instead. Studies show that experiences are more fulfilling in the long run than ‘things’. This will also help you to be more present when it comes to family. With the busy lives we lead, it’s so easy to neglect family in favour of work pressures. Spending quality time with family can be a gift on its own at this time of year.

  3. Avoid using credit unnecessarily

    One of the quickest ways to add to your financial stress is to fund your holiday using credit. Avoid using credit recklessly, or you’ll end up paying for the festive season for months to come. It’s another reason why a proper holiday budget is so important.

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