The festive season, often also referred to as “silly” season, is a great time for friends and family to get together and share some much-needed time off work. This time of the year, however, can bring about a certain amount of pressure for adults. There is pressure to host events and parties, pressure to buy expensive gifts, pressure to cook large meals and serve expensive drinks. Many of these expenses are overlooked when budgeting for the holidays and many of us take the “I’ll deal with the consequences later” approach. Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford to just wing it and actually need to plan for these costs, otherwise we may run into some financial trouble in the new year.
In order to equip you with plan for the upcoming festive season, here are a few tips:
- Budget, budget, budget – it is really important to have a budget and try your best to stick with it. This must be a proper plan which details all of the things you want to do and buy, and how much these will cost, and then see if this would be affordable for you. If you will be unable to afford everything, take certain items off the list, or scale down. You must be realistic.
- Share the costs – if you are planning on hosting friends and family for an occasion, try to split up the responsibilities so that not everything falls onto you. Ask each couple or family to bring a different item e.g. snacks, starters, drinks, desert. This will split the bill and considerably reduce your total cost of the event. If it is close family and friend, they will respect this decision.
- Do not overdo it – it may be tough to say no to your child when they want the shiny red bicycle or to a partner than wants and expensive piece of jewelry, but you need to strictly consider what you can afford and not overspend. Try to give gifts that are perhaps needs and not wants. A small, thoughtful gift can be more special than merely buying the most expensive thing that you can afford.
- Free activities – it is not necessary to go on extravagant overseas holidays with the whole family or take a trip up the coast which will turn out to be expensive. We are blessed to live in a beautiful country and should take advantage of this. There are many places to visit which don’t cost an arm or a leg. Go to the local park, have a picnic or go for a hike. Visit the beach or the dam. Many local museums and art galleries are free or have discounted entrance fees on certain days.
Even though it can be very tempting to use credit cards or short-term loans in this period, we strongly advise that you try to avoid this. Using short-term debt to fund unnecessary expenses is expensive and can often lead to financial trouble if this becomes a habit and is abused.
To get out of debt, try pay more than the minimum monthly debt repayments to get rid of the debt quicker. If you find yourself struggling to meet your minimum debt repayments each month it is advisable to contact a debt counsellor to see if they can assist you as you may be over-indebted, meaning that your income is not enough to cover all your debt repayments and your living expenses. A debt counsellor can help you get back on the right track with debt repayment plan, which would make your debt repayments more affordable each month.