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Dealing with debt over the Festive Season

Posted: 22 Nov 2016

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The Festive Season is a magical time of family gatherings and gifting. It is also a time of anxiety and pressure due to mounting debt. Resolve to turn the tide this year and give yourself and your family a financial leg-up for the year ahead. The key is to not turn into an ostrich with your head in the sand and file your Festive Season spend under the it’s-only-once-a-year category. The stark reality is that the likelihood of you recovering from this spend on top of existing debt is highly unlikely and you are building your family’s financial future on quicksand.

Lists and Budgets

Your budget and expenses list should be tailored towards paying your debts first and then creating a special day based on a realistic budget. Start by making a detailed list of your Festive Season spend. Include all the gifts you intend to buy, gift wrapping, all the ingredients of each meal you are hosting, drinks and decorations and other sundries, such as petrol. It’s important to include all possible items of your spend – being honest and detailed during this stage of your planning will save you a ton of money. Once your list is complete, pop onto the Internet and visit various retailer online shopping sites to list the approximate price of each item. Remember to do this for your grocery list too. If you deal with a specific butcher or fish monger, get on the blower and find out what you will be charged for that joint or Snoek. You’ll end up with a fairly accurate estimate spend and you might also strike a bargain or two. The next step is to prepare your budget. It’s a good idea to start this during November – work up a daily budget that will allow you to put away an amount for December. Then get down to the nitty gritty and write down every single expense for December and January. Be brutally honest and include every single payment that you need to make. Leave no stone unturned and include items such as overdraft fees too. Do not borrow from Peter to pay Paul and exclude any loan or credit card payments. You need the full picture to ensure that you keep afloat. Subtract these expenses from your income for December and January (don’t forget your November nest egg) and you’ll be left with your Festive Season budget. Now introduce your Festive Season expenses list to your budget. If the two don’t agree with each other, tweak your list until it fits snugly into your budget. Keep the end-goal in mind – which is not to create one day of extravagant magic, but rather a financially safe and stable future by practising  better spending habits. You’ll be delighted in years to come to see how far you’ve come by spending mindfully – this way, you will secure your family’s happiness and security.

Be proactive – grab the reindeer by the horns!

Start buying your list of items well ahead of time and pick a time of the day when the shops are less likely to be crowded. Getting caught up in the mad-mall-maul is a recipe for impulsive purchases and you’ll be tempted to ignore your list to escape the frenzy. Always carry your list in your handbag – you’ll be amazed how much money you will save working through your list at a more relaxed pace ahead of time and you’ll actually have fun instead of feeling frazzled!

Handy hints

  • Curb your impulse to demonstrate your love of extravagance – brainstorm less expensive, thoughtful and creative ways to give to each other. Homemade is back in fashion!
  • Give the gift of giving – book time for your family to help out at an old age home or animal shelter – the lessons learnt are an invaluable gift.
  • Look to Pinterest for groovy, inexpensive ways to wrap gifts and decorate. Who knows what forgotten treasures lurk around in your cupboards?
  • Decorate Saffer style – resist the urge to bedazzle with tinsel and fake snow. Rather incorporate funky ideas like an African wire beaded tree. You’re kind to the environment and supporting a local vendor by keeping it local and lekker.
  • Scour your local Facebook and online community sites for bargains. Christmas markets are always fun and unique.
Take the load off this Festive Season and practice the art of mindful spending. By acknowledging your existing debt head-on and not postponing payment at the expensive of the Festive Season, it will reduce anxiety and allow you to build wealth instead of merely surviving. You’ll be relaxed and happier for it and save yourself a mean credit card hangover come 2017!

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