A takeaway coffee or meal here and there, and before you know it you’ve run out of cash! While the festive season is a time to spend time with loved ones, it’s important to manage your cash flow.
Here are some tips on mastering socially distanced celebrations and how to enjoy yourself while managing your budget.
Track your spending
The best way to ensure that you have enough money is to budget. Before you get paid, create a budget and consider all your regular expenses, including festive season ones, such as outings and gifts. You can keep track by using an excel spreadsheet or a notebook if you’re old school, but budget apps such as Mint and PocketGuard can make this process easier.
Start shopping early
Last-minute panicked purchases are often expensive because you don’t have as much time to compare prices for the best deals. November is a great time to start your gift shopping as there are usually amazing discounts leading up to and beyond Black Friday. Keep your eyes glued to social media and online stores for specials. Make a list of all the people you would like to buy gifts for and specifically keep an eye out for the items that you’d like to buy for them. Check out our Black Friday article for more shopping tips to get the best deals. And remember, if something doesn’t meet your budget, don’t buy it as you might regret it later.
Have fun safely
While it’s the season for keeping close to your friends and family, it’s still important to adhere to safety protocols such as social distancing. Some ways that you can have fun while still ensuring safety is to:
- Choose outdoor activities rather than indoor ones in order to have more ventilation and more space for social distancing.
- Choose off-peak times for gatherings so that locations aren’t overcrowded.
- Bring extra safety supplies with you (e.g masks, sanitiser and bottled water).
- Avoid using venues with self-service options such as buffets or salad bars.
- Serve packaged foods during mealtimes, if possible, and ensure that everyone has their own utensils.
- If you’re hosting a gathering, ensure there’s enough space between people, particularly if not everyone is from your household. Consider hosting it outside if there’s enough space.
- If you are sick and especially if you’re showing any flu symptoms associated with COVID-19, rather join gatherings over videoconference apps such as Google Hangouts or Zoom.
It’s easy to eat your way to an empty bank account during the festive season, particularly if you dine out on multiple occasions or host family dinner parties. A good way to save is to host ‘share celebrations’, where everyone brings a dish or dessert, for example a ‘bring and braai’. This will save you time, money and effort. And when eating out, choose meals with bigger portions and split the food if possible. Ask for the dishes to be served on separate plates and preferably use your own cutlery. If you’re hosting, ensure that everyone has their own utensils. You can mark everyone’s utensils with their names or give everyone a colour and then mark their packaged meals and utensils with stickers in their assigned colour.
Avoid the debt trap
If you haven’t saved enough for the festive season, don’t take on more debt to fund it. Taking on more debt means more repayments that you may not be able to afford in the new year when you should be starting afresh. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, and it’s wiser to buy gifts and do activities that match your pocket. There are many options for cost-effective gifts, such as home-made ones, and plenty of free activities you can do. Get creative and check out Pinterest and YouTube for home-made gift ideas. You could also do a family Secret Santa where everyone draws a name to buy a gift.