Decorations are up, festive season ‘specials’ are mostly everywhere and Josh Groban is doing the shopping centre carol rounds.
Face it: you either dread it or you love it, but one thing is for sure – you cannot shy away from the fact that Christmas Day is almost here. The big, financial question you have to ask yourself is: will your Christmas budget go jingle all the way or will you end up with an aftershock of Bills, Bills, Bills?
According to feedback and statistics from DebtSafe’s recent (October 2017) Debt Cycle survey, 60% of the 1000+ respondents indicated that they have debt. Their main debt consists of personal loans (60%), credit cards (40%) and clothing accounts (60%). Fifty percent of the survey’s participants (that have debt) are in arrears. And, the majority is behind with more than three months’ debt payments. “The figures are already shocking as it is and that is why consumers should be warned to not make more debt during the merry season as they will pay more in the long run for it,” says Matthys Potgieter, spokesperson and debt expert at DebtSafe.
Potgieter furthermore highlights that many consumers unfortunately do not make the necessary financial preparations for this special time beforehand, and therefore, end up recklessly making use of more credit (such as credit cards or store cards for example). Have you perhaps been a Christmas Day procrastinator and dodged essential budget preparations? You don’t want to be left with the financial consequences in January 2018, now do you?
Potgieter says there are still five things that you can take into account to ‘jingle’ your Christmas Day budget to work for your financial situation this year:
- Planning and budgeting
Potgieter states that although time is limited, you have to draw up your ‘Christmas budget blueprint’ and plan accordingly. Apart from your usual monthly budget, your Christmas Day budget should be added as an additional extra for December. If you have allocated R3000 (for example) specifically for Christmas Day, divide this amount into various cost categories such as food, presents, travel costs and activities. Include the necessary detail to sketch the bigger financial picture of Christmas Day for yourself. This will give a clear understanding and indication of what your expenditure lid is.
Remember, a great Christmas meal isn’t necessarily an expensive one. What non-perishable products do you have in the cupboard? Perhaps the meat at the market or on discount at the grocery store is indeed a sale – so make use of it (if it suits your budget of course). And if you are playing host for Christmas Day, why not let your guests or family members join in the gift of giving (by bringing their own drinks and a salad or pudding). Sharing is caring, plus it is exciting to see what dishes everybody prepared for the festivity.
- Christmas presents & decorations
Christmas Day is not about showing off or spending money you have not budgeted for. What about a DIY Christmas this year? A personalised prezzy or letting the kids bring their own creative juices to table, home, garden or tree decorations are special indeed. And, by using things you already have available in your home makes your Christmas Day cost effective.
If you have to go from point A to point B on Christmas Day, take the following into account:
- If your friends or family members are also driving to the same destination, carpool in two cars instead of three, for example.
- Avoid toll routes where possible and take alternative roads instead.
- Get the best fuel consumption by maintaining a constant speed from your home to your destination.
- If you get stuck in heavy traffic on your way to your Christmas Day celebration, you can turn off your car’s engine for a while, (note: not continuously) to save some fuel.
Have you ever considered doing some ‘price-less’ Christmas Day activities? What about getting all the family members to join in the fun by playing games like some old-fashioned ‘boeresport’ or lawn bowls – using items and equipment that you already have available? There are many activities (including indoor activities) that you can do – see Pinterest. Activities like these will definitely keep your Christmas budget in check.
Make your Christmas budget work for your financial situation this 2017. And, remember what Christmas Day is really about – spending time with loved ones. Don’t fall into a debt trap as you’ll ‘jingle’ your financial position all the way down a bottomless pit. If your finances are already sounding like a clanging cymbal, why don’t you contact DebtSafe to guide you in the right direction – becoming debt free? SMS your name and INFO to: 30898 (at no charge) for your free debt assessment.