For many of us the thought of year-end expenses is stressful. But it needn’t be because good planning now will make all the difference, says Mellony Ramalho, Executive for Sales, Branch Network at African Bank.
“The end of year should be about fun, family and resting. If you start putting money aside now there’s a good chance you’ll have enough to cover the extra expenses the festive season brings,” she says.
Employees often get paid early in December, around the 15th, in preparation for the holidays. This does, however, make the wait until the January payday much longer. As a result, January is a tough month for a lot of people with some resorting to using their credit cards with reckless abandon or choosing to take out loans. “While loans and credit cards can be helpful and credit cards can even offer you some worthwhile benefits and rewards over the festive season, it is important to stay conscious of what you are spending. Rather prepare a budget to avoid overspending in December,” she says.
Another point worth considering is whether it’s essential to travel over the expensive festive season or to push your holiday out by a month or two. “Prices for accommodation, flights, car hire and so on generally double over the festive season. If you have flexibility in terms of travel plans, why not wait until March or April before travelling. It also offers some financial relief over December and gives you a few more months to save for those holiday spoils,” says Ramahlo.
Plan for possible increases in petrol and food prices, she warns. “There’s a good chance that we’ll see increases in expenses as we head towards the end of the year. If you can put a little extra away now to accommodate this, you won’t feel the pinch as much in December. Perhaps consider starting a small holiday petrol saving fund if you plan to travel over the festive season. By saving the money now you won’t have to pay out the full petrol cost in December.”
Lastly, she suggests shopping for those Christmas presents now. “Look for specials and start stocking up now. Not only will it save you money in December but the stress of last-minute shopping too.”
“The good news is there are still a few weeks left before the end of the year. Now is the time to get smart about your money and plan ahead so you can enjoy your hard-earned cash. If you are feeling like your finances are out of control or you need some advice, speak to a financial advisor. This month we are celebrating Financial Planning Month so why not take this opportunity to get on top of your finances and start planning for a prosperous future,” concludes Ramalho.