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5 ways to avoid debt in December

Finance & Money

Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2019

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The build-up to the holiday season is exciting – there are all those lovely long, hot summer days to enjoy, lots of time to relax with family and friends, and different ways to celebrate the season. However, you may be holding your breath because you know that along with the good times, there is a chance that you might find yourself spending more than you can afford.


Many people give in to the temptation to go overboard in December without having put a proper plan in place to pay off any accumulated debt once the spending season is over. This can cause many problems, as there are always consequences to this type of behaviour come January. No one wants to carry unnecessary debt with them into the new year.


So, here are 5 tips to help you avoid going into debt over December and stick to your budget this holiday season:


1. Put together a December budget 


A monthly budget is a key financial tool throughout the year, but it will probably need adjusting in December. While the time of the guaranteed 13th cheque is long gone, a lucky few still receive December bonuses. But if you’re not one of them, there are still plenty of opportunities to manage your cash and stay one step ahead of any debt. Your December budget is key to achieving this.


So look at your income, determine what you expect to spend over and above the normal monthly spend and cut unnecessary costs where you can. Perhaps you can buy some items in bulk, or carpool with friends when going to get-togethers. Making sacrifices in order to avoid debt will work in your favour come January.


2. Manage friends’ and family’s expectations, as well as your own


Times are tough for South Africans across the country. People are having to relook the way they celebrate, spend their holidays and give gifts. This year, why not take the opportunity to relook things such as Christmas gifts? Rather come up with affordable but meaningful alternatives, for example, an ‘experience and not things’ or only buy gifts for the kids.


If your family always goes away together, sit down and assess whether you can afford it this time around. Speak to your family honestly about what is within your budget and what isn’t. Do this in advance so there is no last-minute confusion. Perhaps you can suggest splitting the costs between your planned holiday activities, or opting out of the more pricey events and staying for fewer nights than usual.


3. Say no to credit


It’s tempting at this time of year to allow yourself a bit of extra credit in order to cover expenses, with the promise to pay it off in December. Unfortunately, this can accumulate quickly and will put you in a position that will see you starting the new year in debt. Rather use money wisely. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.


4. Stay on top of your repayments


Bills keep on coming, even in December when you have far more interesting and exciting things to spend your money on. However, it’s important to stay on top of these regular monthly payments because if you skip one month, the debt will accumulate and leave you in a difficult situation in January. Creditors will want their money, and you’ll be unable to pay. Set money aside for bills and don’t forget the January expenses, such as school fees, stationery, uniforms, etc.


5. Avoid spontaneous spending


If you celebrate Christmas, head to the shops with a plan. Draw up a list of presents you have to purchase, only buy those items (as tempting as it is to buy yourself something too!) and stick to your gift budget. If you don’t celebrate Christmas but still need to spend wisely in December, keep a list of things that you see that you want, and wait at least 24 hours before you make the purchase. Sometimes in that cooling-off period, you will realise that you don’t actually want or need the item after all.




The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


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