With the season officially upon us, you’d have to be Jeremiah Scrooge not to be seduced by the sparkly baubles, Boney M and catalogues of beautiful things you never knew you needed – not to mention your obligation to buy gifts, show up with champers and have at least a few new items to pack in your holiday suitcase. But, despite all these extra expenses, many companies no longer offer a Christmas bonus or a thirteenth cheque – so you still have all your normal bills to pay, plus you have to cough up for a whole lot more. The result? A ‘spending hangover,’ which lasts well into the New Year. But there are ways of safeguarding yourself from financial overindulgence. ‘It’s all about planning,’ says Hein du Plessis, managing director of DebtSafe, an extensive network of debt counsellors who operate across South Africa. ‘Following a few simple steps will ensure you that your New Year starts on a clean slate – free of any unnecessary financial burdens from the festive season.’
|Compile a Budget – and Stick To It||Work out how much all your regular expenses cost you each month (house, car, groceries, socialising), and subtract the total from your take-home pay. The amount left over (if you have budgeted correctly) is what you can safely spend on fun stuff, like bottles of bubbly and celebratory dinners.|
|Set Spending Limits|
|Decide Where To Shop|
Why not improvise and create your own gifts? Stuff you’ve put time, thought and love into counts for a lot more than something you grabbed at the Spar and shoved in a used ‘Merry Xmas’ bag. Here are some ideas that even the most creatively challenged can pull off:
Cards: At about R30 a pop, Christmas cards cost a bomb. Instead, use that money to buy cardboard, ribbons and glitter glue. Gather a bunch of girlfriends, chip in for a bottle of zesty white and have a card-making party using old cards, pics cut out of magazines and images sourced online. It’s probably been ages since any of you did anything creative, and you’ll be surprised at how much fun it is.
Biscuits: Ask your gran for her gingerbread biscuit recipe. Then, put them in recycled glass containers like jam or mayo jars wrapped in ribbons or colourful paper and with your awesome, handmade card attached – it becomes a personal and very special gift for someone you care about.
Scrapbook Collage: If the gift is for a much-loved family member or a special friend, collect photographs and mementos, and use scrapbooking elements to create a ‘memory montage’. The look on their faces when they open this thoughtful gift will be worth every second of the time it took to make it.
Wrapping Paper: The bought kind is a waste of money, and hard on the environment. Instead, wrap gifts in plain brown paper or even newspaper. Adorn the present with a brightly coloured ribbon, and before you leave the house pick a flower or a small branch of ivy from the garden and tuck it under the ribbon – a simple touch that looks pretty and festive.