Plan, shop and be merry

Who hasn’t stretched the budget over the festive season and lived to regret it? We asked local female finance authors how to celebrate in style — without the stress.

Have a plan

“In the festive hype, it’s easy to lose control of costs,” says Palesa Longolo, author of Stokvels: How They can Make Your Money Work for You.
“So a detailed budget to stick to is vital for surviving this season financially.
Remember December income is also for January costs. It’s not going to be December forever, so think of long term finances too.”

Shop the sales – but strategically

Once you’ve got your budget in place and know what you’ve got to spend on gifts, entertainment or holiday outfits, you can safely enjoy festive sales. Sure, they’re there to promote more spending, but if you know what you’re after and what they usually cost, you’ll be okay snapping up discounted snacks and drinks or a three-for-two offer on items that can be gifts for your child’s teacher, the office Secret Santa, and the auntie who has everything.

Give yourself pocket money

“If you’re an impulse spender, try keeping your day-to-day spending money in a separate bank account (or as cash), and topping it up every Monday,” says Sam Beckbessinger, author of Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grown-up. “It’s much easier to manage a week’s worth of money than a month’s.”

Take some initiative in social plans

If you’re spending the season with friends and family whose financial lives vary greatly, you’ll save everyone stress by making some suggestions for low-cost activities that everybody can enjoy. You can plan a pretty lavish picnic for the same price as an average restaurant meal, and bringing and sharing means that you can buy larger portions that cost less. Find out about free events in your city to make for a more interesting festive season.

Learn to say ‘no’

This is a tough one for social butterflies and people-pleasers, but the fact is that you can’t attend every festive event if you want to save your money and your sanity. Stick to those events that you absolutely have to attend — such as work functions — and those that you feel genuinely excited about, then practise your most polite: “Sorry, I can’t make it.”

Make more money

“Many of us are never taught how to negotiate for a better salary, especially women,” says Beckbessinger. If you’re feeling stretched this season, resolve to know your worth, and ask accordingly in the new year. “Margaret Neale has some excellent videos on the topic that you can find online, for free. If that’s not an option, it might be time to start a side hustle.”

Have an emergency fund

This advice holds true all year round, but especially so over the silly season: if you possibly can, you should put aside some money for unexpected expenses. The best part? If no emergencies arise, you can use it for whatever brings you joy in January, even if that’s reinvesting it for 2020’s festive frivolity.

Use time off to plan an abundant year

“Give yourself the gift of financial literacy this festive season,” suggests Anthea Gardner, author of Make Your Money Work for You: Start Big, Think Small. “Start by understanding the power of compounding: you’ll never look at saving and investing in the same way again.”   

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