How to make the most of your money this holiday season

money_article.pngDire economic times requires sustainable budget plans and with South Africa’s slow economic growth, rising debt and high interest rates there’s no better time to tighten your monetary belt than now. Finance Minister - Pravin Gordan said: ‘We cannot spend money we do not have and we cannot borrow beyond our ability to repay.’ With the festive season approaching everyone will want to spent a little extra but before you do, here are a few pointers you need to keep in mind:

Decide upfront how much you have to spend 
Once you have decided how much you really have to spend, stick to it. Take miscellaneous costs into account. There are different ways to draw up a budget, you can decide on a general spending limit or allocate a specific amount to each product or service. Just remember to keep it within the set budget and never to deviate.

Beware of sales
Be a responsible consumer, always compare prices before you make a purchase during a sale. You can use apps like PriceCheck to see which store offers the best deal, some may be genuinely discounted but most of them may have hidden costs. Stay away from the ‘buy now and pay later deals’ as not all deals are created to save you money. If you can pay for it in cash, pay for it. Avoid high interests that comes with monthly instalments.

Sentimental gifts 
Always remember to spend wisely and that there’s a new year ahead, and to some degree it’s the thought that counts. Not only is this economical but it carries a lot of value. You don’t always have to go to the shops and buy something pricey as a gift, people appreciate you offering your time. Some good ideas include, baking cookies, help a friend who’s got a lot on their plate, cook for the entire family or even offer to take your friends kids on a play date.

Pay off debt
You can use part of your bonus to pay for annual expenses like school fees, this will help reduce expenses in the new year and free up some much needed cash. Think of the year ahead and how you want to spend your hard-earned bonus. Bear in mind that there are 12 long months ahead and you have the opportunity to use money wisely.

The South African Savings Institute (SASI) has 7 Tips to survive the festive season

1. Resist SALE, think SAVE! Clearly distinguish between needs and wants.

2. Make your own Christmas gifts and only take holidays you can afford.

3. Have a clear budget for your requirements in the New Year.

4. Use free online tools to track your spending and debt and know where every cent of your income goes.

5. Pay cash for all purposes and don’t be trapped by easy credit – in fact, cut up those store credit cards!

6. Visualise what you want to save for and start saving more. Save your bonus and make it multiply.

7. Service your debt and stick to the payment terms. If you cannot service your monthly debts discuss your situation with your credit providers before it is too late.

You don’t want to start the year on a financial deficit keep an open mind and not open wallet.  Be cautious and enjoy the holiday season!