The long weekends coming up offer a great chance to take a break, recharge the batteries, have fun and spend time with loved ones. While holidays can be associated with over-spending, it doesn’t have to be the case, says Alfred Ramosedi, African Bank Group Executive: Sales and Marketing. “Avoiding over-spending during the holiday season may not be easy. It certainly requires extra time and effort but there are ways to be money-savvy that won’t leave you with unacceptable debt for the balance of the year.”
He offers the following ideas to help you spend wisely during the holiday break.
- Set a holiday budget. Decide exactly how much you can spend over the holidays and make sure everyone in the family buys into this.
- Eat at home – even if you are going away these holidays try and eat some meals in your unit rather than spending too much time at costly restaurants and bars.
- Use cash whenever possible. Only use a credit card if you know you can pay it off right away.
- Cash in reward points. You’d be surprised how many groceries and gifts can be bought!
- Allow time for comparison shopping and take advantage of change of season specials and sales. Shop around to get the best selection and price.
- If you are giving Easter gifts, consider homemade gifts this year. Bake cookies, paint eggs, put together a photo album, frame a family photograph or make a themed gift basket full of smaller items
- If you are staying at home and need to earn some cash how about giving the gift of time. Create a coupon offering your services — cleaning, babysitting, walking the dog, cooking a dinner or completing household projects.
- Rethink entertainment. Many people forget about the cost of holiday entertaining. Even providing snacks for neighbours or friends who drop by or cooking the holiday meal can be expensive. Instead of providing all the snacks to visitors, have a potluck where everyone brings an item to eat or drink. For the holiday meal, ask family members to each contribute a dish.
“If you’ve started the year being disciplined with your credit card spending, there is no harm in using your credit card over the holidays, however, before you start spending, ensure that you have determined exactly how much you can afford to repay based on the amount that you intend on spending. The bonus of spending on your credit card is that you may be able to earn points if your card is linked to a rewards or loyalty programme.”
Ramosedi cautions against taking out a personal loan for gifts or unrealistic holiday plans. “The general rule of thumb is that you should avoid using debt on which you have to pay interest to buy consumables. This makes everyday items far more expensive.”
“Let’s all enjoy a responsible holiday time remembering that having fun doesn’t need to mean spending money we don’t have,” he concludes.