Wallet-Friendly Holiday Tips

Entering the new year with the discomfort of having over indulged and spent excessively during the festive season is an all-too-relatable experience. “Holiday guilt” is further exacerbated by the current state of the economy. It can be tricky to balance wanting to connect with family and friends over this period, and that of overspending. With the typical and prevalent spending culture over this season, rest assured that you are not the only one with this challenge. 

There are, however, ways to mitigate this, ensuring that your budget remains intact and your long-term financial goals aren’t derailed. As an annual predicament, we encourage you to feel more empowered in the face of relentless opportunities to swipe your card. Tips that are back to basics, but we might overlook occasionally.

This blog aims to provide practical tips for managing the festive season expenses without going overboard, especially considering the impact of inflation – such as the high cost of food. (As per the November 2023 Household Affordability Index, the average cost of the Household Food Basket currently stands at R5,314.63!)

Managing Family Gatherings, Christmas Lunch, and Smart Gifting Strategies

Image source, Canva – Scalable Margaritas: the perfect signature drink for a crowd!

The concept of doing the “festive season on a budget” doesn’t necessarily have to tone down the grandeur of your festive celebrations; it’s just about making better choices. In fact, the innovation required to cut costs often makes for less generic festivities. Loading up your shopping cart with excess ingredients often leads to uneaten dishes and unused party supplies; which is more laborious than festive! Instead of mindless spending, we recommend becoming more shrewd.  

Try doing things differently by focusing on crafting one signature drink, such as a Margarita, and let everyone bring their own drinks, instead of trying to accommodate everyone’s drink preferences. Another idea is to encourage everyone to contribute by preparing a dish, rather than shouldering the entire feast – a potential blow to the bank account.. Less work, less expense, while still resulting in a diverse and scrumptious spread. 

On the topic of gifts (for those who celebrate Christmas and the conventions of gift giving), consider instituting a gift exchange like ‘Secret Santa’, where you only have to give one gift in the group, and set a spending limit.

Speaking of limits, establishing a budget for hosting the central meal celebrations is easier to do than you might think. Look up recipes that are sophisticated but scalable. Seize festive saving opportunities, most major retailers will be pushing different specials at this time of year. Choose cost-effective, bulk ingredients for versatile dishes like casseroles which also maintain quality at scale. 

This time of year is about connecting with loved ones, and the heart of the celebration lies in creating moments for enjoyment and laughter – games, music, and handmade decorations. These elements elevate the event, leaving a lasting impression.

Balancing Celebration and Responsibility

Instead of indulging excessively, seize control of your financial strategy over this time period, so you can have fun without remorse. December pay day and January pay day are usually far apart from one another, so make sure your money lasts. It’s recommended to save up for this expensive time of year, because typically you’ll spend more while you’re on holiday and festive celebrations all add up. 

To ensure your funds aren’t entirely depleted come the beginning of 2024, examine January’s impending expenses – utility bills, insurance premiums, school fees, and the like – and construct a budget. Set the needed money aside BEFORE the season to grant yourself the freedom to relish December. Utilise budgeting apps if necessary to stay on course. For your December budget, set spending limits for each category – holidays, gifts, feasting, and regular expenses. 

When it comes to bonuses, the temptation to splurge is understandable. After all, it’s been a tumultuous year, and the ‘you only live once’ mantra rings true. While we absolutely endorse personal rewards, it would be wise to channel part of that bonus towards debt repayment, emergency funds, education, investments, and savings goals. This will free you up to enjoy the holiday season with less stress. 

Image Source, Canva – Budgeting, Budgeting, Budgeting… So often the advice!

Financial Tips for Post-Festive Season

Post festive season, you might be feeling the aftermath of a month of indulgence or even the onset of post-Christmas blues. If you’ve overspent despite your best interests, we suggest facing the problem head-on. It’s time to halt spending! Avoid creating new debt; consider cutting up the credit card if necessary. Assess the existing debt and devise a plan for repayment. Embrace a low-spending January, focusing on health goals for increased serotonin and to smoothly transition from December’s indulgence to a healthier lifestyle for both body and wallet.

Consider contacting creditors to negotiate lower interest rates or payment plans that suit your financial situation. Return unwanted gifts for cash if feasible. If you’ve depleted your savings for the holidays, create a plan to grow your savings once more. Automated payments are also great for less things to remember, better tracking, and consistency. 

Conclusion

Surviving the festive season means revisiting some fundamental financial principles. This involves deliberate decision-making within limited resources, choices that must be made within the context of the type of life you want to lead. The biggest challenge over this season is identifying external influences, but stay the course and reap the rewards.

Happy holidays everyone!

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