Johannesburg – We’ve all been there … it’s mid-January, your bank account is empty after the holiday festivities, and you have no idea how you’ll make it to payday.
In a recent Sanlam survey, 54% of South Africans admitted they were not able to make their money stretch to the end of the month.
With December pay cheques arriving earlier than usual for many employees and all the additional festive season expenses, it’s no wonder the first month of the year has been dubbed “JanuWorry”.
It’s especially important for South Africans to budget at this time of the year. Your paycheque needs to last for six weeks as opposed to the normal four-five weeks every other month, and will probably need to cover extras like presents, holiday entertainment, and school supplies. To avoid creating debt that you will take with you into the new year, strict budgeting is essential.
Sanlam’s survey also reveals that 50% of South Africans wished they had saved more before the pandemic, and 57% were financially negatively impacted by Covid-19.
While we are all excited for the much-needed December break, we need to be prepared rather than be caught unaware.
Here are the top five tips to help South Africans approach the festive season responsibly:
- Gift thoughtfully and get creative
A gift doesn’t need to be expensive to be meaningful. Try to create homemade gifts that show thought and care but don’t overextend you financially. Consider Secret Santa, where each person is allocated just one family member to buy a present for.
- Take staycations
If you have not been able to save for a holiday, make it a staycation rather than relying on your credit card to fund a getaway. Using credit will essentially mean starting the new year with increased debt. Instead, practice delayed gratification and save up for your dream family holiday in 2022.
- Embrace the ‘bring and share’ culture
The “bring and share” culture is a great way to socialise and make memories without breaking the bank. If each person does a little or brings something along, this can help ease the financial pressure.
- Shop sparingly and sell unwanted goods for extra cash
Don’t buy more than you need in terms of groceries and other consumables and make sure you maximise leftovers. Use grocery lists and budgets when shopping. Also, consider selling unwanted items to create additional cash.
- Budget for your weeks and your weekends to include eating out and socials
If your December salary needs to last six weeks instead of the usual four to five, split the disposable income budget mindfully across this time. Take care to include the things you want to enjoy but at a rate and pace that you can afford.
The festive season will tempt many with short-term wants, which often overshadow our long-term needs. We need to focus on the long-term reward, which will outweigh instant gratification.
- By Farzana Botha who is a segmented solutions manager at Sanlam Savings.