It’s the middle of winter and the cold fronts just keep rolling in. It’s hard to believe that in four short months, you’ll be sitting on a beach somewhere with the warm sun shining down on you. While that may still seem like ages away, four months isn’t a very long time to save the money you’ll need to get you and your family to your dream destination without getting into debt.
Every year, we publish blogs about reining in your holiday spending. While it’s always a good idea to try to control costs in the moment, by the time the December holidays are upon us, it’s often too late. Instead, by getting started now, in August, you might be able to stop yourself from starting 2016 with negative funds.
Here are some tips to help you get your holiday finances sorted, starting now.
Draw up a December budget Drawing up a budget is the starting point for making a financial plan for your holiday. You have to put your income and expenses all down in black and white so that you know what’s coming in and what’s going out.
Don’t list “travel, petrol, accommodation” and think you’re done with it either. Make sure that you give the budget proper thought, taking into account all the things that you do differently when you’re on holiday – like eating out twice a day and buying sarongs from promenade shops.
Remember, the rule is if it’s not on the budget now, you can’t have it in December!
Start saving for the holidayNow that you know how much your holiday is going to cost you, count how many paydays you have until December (hint: it’s four) and work out how much you have to save each month to get to your total.
If you realise that you’re going to come up short, you should start cutting back right away on a couple of frivolous expenses to fund the holiday blow out. Kill that daily latte, skip every second date night or give up drinking or smoking (seriously).
Or you can find ways to bring in some extra money, like hosting that jumble sale you’ve always been threatening to, or using a skill or hobby to earn an income.
The maths is easy, the doing is tough. But if you’ve managed to save up the funds to cover your holiday, you’ll be able to do all sorts of clever things with your December bonus.
Try to pay off your holiday accommodation as soon as possibleThis is the December holiday we’re talking about here, so chances are you’ve already had to book and pay for 50% of your accommodation if you want to stay anywhere with a sea view and a front door. Don’t wait until December to pay off the other 50%, use the tips in the point above to get it paid off as quickly as possible. And if you get a tax return this tax season, that’s a good place for it to go.
If you pay for your accommodation now, you can take it off your budget!
Buy some holiday extras each month If you can take the strain off your holiday bank balance by doing a little of the holiday shopping in advance, then do it. We’re not talking about buying braai chops and salad four months early, but rather suggesting that if you need a new swimming costume, sunglasses, tyres or windscreen wipers, buy them now so that all those expenses don’t hit you in December.
It can be quite fun creating a “stuff for the holiday” shelf in your cupboard.
Whatever you celebrate, plan it... If you celebrate Christmas or any other holiday festivities, start planning how you’ll manage the event with your family now. Consider your biggest Christmas expenses (hint: food and presents), and work out ways to reduce those – like only giving presents to the under-18s and direct family members or hosting a pot-luck festive dinner instead of catering the whole traditional shebang yourself.
Your family may think you’re a little crazy, but they’ll soon see the sense in establishing a budgetary framework ahead of the festivities
Onward to December! The good thing about having only four paydays left until the holidays is that there are only four paydays left until the holidays! Count them down and make them count, and your December self will thank you as you enter 2016 with cash to spare.