Plan ahead and escape the January blues

Johannesburg – Holidays are supposed to be carefree and relaxing, but a happy year-end break can soon turn to misery if, by the beginning of January, you realise you’ve spent too much enjoying yourself and are starting the new year in financial difficulty.

In addition, year-end financial pressures can be exacerbated by new-year expenses, such as children needing new school uniforms and stationery. This can result in people taking on more debt.

A little forward planning can go a long way to preventing the January blues.

  • Don’t get caught out: If you get paid early, remember that you will have to stretch your salary until the next paycheque. Allocate money for normal
    living expenses before you decide how much to spend on gifts and entertainment.
  • Resist overspending: If you get paid early in December and are lucky enough to get a bonus, you could suddenly have a lot of money in your account. Resist the temptation to splurge. Think first about your financial commitments.
  • Get help if you need it: After a difficult year, most of us need a break and some time to recharge. That’s not going to happen if you spend the holidays worrying about how much you owe or how you’re going to make ends meet in January. It is critical to keep up debt payments over the holidays.

Data show that on average it takes up to two years for consumers to catch up on payments that are missed in December. In the current economic climate, it may take even longer.

  • Sager is chairperson of the National Debt Counsellors Association

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