According to the National Credit Regulator, 10.3 million South Africans are finding it difficult to meet their monthly debt repayments. Octogen, which specialises in financial wellbeing, reports that in 2016 the average household spent a massive 49% of after-tax income on monthly debt repayments. Another survey found that 78% of South Africans said they find it ‘difficult’ to ‘impossible’ to keep up with their debt repayments.
Far too many South African consumers go into the festive season saddled with debts we can’t comfortably repay, and with little or no savings and after a holiday spending spree, end up even worse off in the new year.
We offer some tips on how to better control spending this holiday season – without missing out on the festive fun.
- Set a budget for holiday season expenses like presents, gifts and entertainment.
- Budget for January expenses like school uniforms and stationery. You might even decide to do your back-to-school shopping before your holiday shopping.
- Don’t spend what you don’t have! Don't shop on credit!
- If you celebrate Christmas, gifts are a huge expense. It takes courage not to overspend! Work out some guidelines around buying gifts with your extended family. Some families only buy gifts only for kids. Others buy one gift per family. Or, some families even set a limit to how much they spend per gift. If you have a big family, you could put all the names in a hat and let everyone pick one – that’s the person they will buy a gift for.
- Once you know who you are buying for, budget an amount per gift, and stick to it.
- Don’t be tempted to buy anything other than what you’ve budgeted for. Avoid the impulse purchase!
- Keep in mind the old cliché that it’s the thought that counts. Something small and personal, something homemade, or even a heartfelt card, will be well appreciated. You can be sure your friends and relatives don't want you to go into debt for the holidays.
- Try and focus on the non-commercial aspects of the season – spending time with friends and family, for instance.
- If you’re a highly social person, it’s tempting to play host all season. You can just as easily be the life and soul at someone else’s party!
- If you are entertaining, don’t be afraid to ask your guests to contribute. Ask each guest to bring along a salad or contribute a dish, and everyone should bring their own drinks.
- Making your own decorations (or swapping old ones with friends and family) can reduce costs and be a lot of fun for the whole family.
With a bit of planning and a lot of self-control you will step into 2017 debt free and maybe even with a little bit of extra cash in the bank! Start planning now and good luck. Remember to live the #DebtFreeDream!