The earlier you start planning, the better prepared you will be for the festive season, and the less debt relief you will need at the end of the holidays.
The end of the year sounds like a long way off, but there are only about eight weeks to go before December with all its holidays and festivities arrives. The festive season is great fun, but it can also take a big bite out of your personal budget if you are not careful.
Let us look at how you can get more with less this year.
Talk about your plans
Festive season financial health starts with a plan. If you always get together with your extended family, talk to them now about this year’s plans. We have all been through a difficult year and money is tight for many people. Chances are very good that your extended family members will appreciate the opportunity to agree upfront on how the holiday expenses will work.
If your holiday plans involve only your partner and/or children or close friends, have the same conversation with them. It is important to make sure you all have the same expectations, and that nobody feels under pressure to spend money they don’t have and end up with financial stress.
Put some new ideas on the table as part of these discussions. Just because you used to spend a lot of food, drinks and gifts in the past, it does not mean you have to do the same this year. For example, instead of toys, the children’s gifts can be school-related to help parents get through January easier. Or, instead of gifts for each other, you can all buy food vouchers for people you know who are struggling in these tough times.
Now that you know what your holidays and celebrations will entail, start drawing up lists and a budget to match. How many gifts do you need to buy, and for whom? How many meals will be your responsibility, and how many people will be at the table? How far will you have to travel and how much will that cost?
With this picture on paper, or in a spreadsheet on your computer, look at clever ways to collect what you will need. Here are some ideas:
Start stocking up on specials such as tinned food, long-life milk and other non-perishable foods.
Buy yourself gift cards from stores where you usually do your shopping as a way to save. Come December, you simply redeem your gift cards. Buying gift cards also stops you from spending your grocery savings on something else, such as clothes. Another advantage of a store gift card, is that you can give it to someone else as a gift, or as your contribution to the holiday expenses.
Buy gifts now, instead of waiting for the mad rush in December. When you are not in a hurry, you have time to find meaningful gifts that don’t have to cost much. If you do find the perfect gift but it is too much for your budget, you can ask someone else to share the expense with you. However, this will only work if the other person had not yet bought a gift – another reason to start gift shopping now.
Create spending space
If your budget and planning show that you are going to struggle to cover all your festive season expenses, take a look at your debt situation. Debt consolidation could give you the spending space you need. By consolidating several debts into one loan, your debt will likely cost you less and you will save on things like bank charges. The cash flow you unlock through this process, can go straight into your holiday savings.
If you see that you will need a personal loan to make up the shortfall between what you have or can save and what you need, be sure to plan carefully. Start shopping around early on so that you have enough time to consider your options and make the borrowing decision that is best for you. And always settle the loan as soon as possible to save on interest.
Coming through the festive season with your financial health intact is possible if you have a plan. Bayport’s Information Centre has very useful information and practical tools, such as a personal budget tool and debt relief options, that you can use to get more with less this December.Go back