Budget tips for the festive season

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

Financing the festive season just got easier with our top ten budget tips.

Vacation stations are open

It’s time! The buzz of your year end party is approaching, and you’re gearing down for a great festive season. Worrying about financing your festive season is, however, taking the bubbles out of your champagne. We’re here to help, with our top ten budget tips for the festive season, and bonus advice on how to survive the longest month of the year: Januworry.

Save up your points

Those loyalty cards you sign up for? They’re really a gift you can give to yourself for the festive season. Simply ensure you swipe your loyalty and rewards cards whenever you can, and accumulate your points throughout the year. Rather than redeeming your points, save them up, and then spend them over the holiday season. This could save you oodles of cash, just when you need your money to stretch the most. If this advice reaches you too late, don’t worry. Simply make this a financial goal for next year, and now that 2020 Festive Season Future You is smiling with gratitude that you saved them stacks of money.

Plan for Januworry

Before you even begin to plot our present shopping, switch up your priority list and do your January shopping now. Yes, we mean it! There are usually big retail sales near the end of November, that can help you cut back your grocery bill in a big way, stretching out your budget well into the new year.

We recommend you:

  • Shop around for bulk deals on household necessities, including toiletries, non-perishable groceries, and staple pantry items. This is the perfect time to pick up that sweet deal on bulk buy toilet paper!
  • Scan your grocery store specials catalogues, and keep your eyes peeled for big savings on the little items your home needs every day.
  • Set out a strict meal plan for the next month or two. That way, you can plan ahead, and know that your grocery cupboard will remain stocked throughout the leaner month of January.

Skip the school stationery rush

This piece of advice may reach you somewhat later than you need it to, but it’s true: buying school stationery should not feature on your January to do list. Instead, it should be something you do long before the previous school year ends. Most retailers won’t bump up the prices on school stationery until January, so now’s the time to pick up great deals on pencils, paints, and the all-important books your children need for next year. Take a quick look around online, and you’ll soon find great bargains on the school essentials. Last year, I managed to fulfill all of my child’s pen and pencil needs for under R100. You can’t top a good bargain, especially if it’s saving Future You a little cash.

Switch up the season

A friend of mine has adopted a truly clever approach to the festive season. With a large extended family to cater for, she found that buying gifts for everyone left her broke before December even began. She decided to switch up her season, and only celebrate Christmas with her immediate family, postponing any big family events to the first week of January. It’s that weird space in our holidays, before we all return to work, where nobody’s quite sure what we’re supposed to be doing, or if it’s indeed a public holiday or not. She’s filled it up with her celebrations! Instead of splurging out for gifts for her entire family, she now shops around through the January sales, and her extended family hosts a big celebration during the first weekend of the new year. After the festive season packs itself away for another year, retailers often place a big discount on the typically festive items, and you can pick up superb bargains during the first few weeks of the year. If switching up your celebrations works for your family and budget, it could be the best thing to do for your wallet.

Secret Santa celebrations

The festive spirit is best brought to life through the eyes of a child, but making sure everyone in your family gets the gift they want can be expensive. Rather than buying gifts for everyone, make sure the kids are catered for individually, and then elect a member of your family to implement a Secret Santa operation. Each adult picks another adult’s name out of a hat, and everyone gets a budget-friendly gift they really want. Set a limit on the amount of money each person’s gift may cost, and everyone wins. Extra festive points are awarded to the families that make it funny, or adopt a specific theme for the gift-giving season.

Sharing is simpler

Spending half of your holiday in the kitchen, concocting incredible meals for your extended family is...not the way to do things. Throw your four course menu into the bin, and replace it with the simplicity of a bring and share celebration. Everyone attending brings their best dish, and everyone has an aunt who specialises in dessert! It’ll save you time, money, and energy to simply share the load, and opt for a bring and share celebration.

Staycation season

In-season holiday resort prices can sometimes double, or even balloon to, triple their standard price during the time you most want to book. Skip the in-season pricing entirely, and plan a staycation for this festive season. Taking a staycation is not only a great way to save money, it’s also a superb way to learn more about your own city, seek out the secrets of your neighbourhood, and spend a good amount of quality time with your family. The big bonus, of course, is that you’ll spend absolutely no precious time whatsoever worrying about whether or not your baggage made it with you to your holiday destination. Turn your staycation into an opportunity to have fun, cocoon with your family, and enjoy your home to its fullest extent. While you’re enjoying a staycation at home, you can:

  • Start the new year by beginning your own vegetable garden, or ditching your lawn to grow food. It may take a little work, but that’ll save you money in the long run too.
  • Take the time to experiment with different meal options and ideas for your family. You may discover great new ways to make your grocery budget stretch even further, while expanding your dinnertime options.

Holiday homes for everyone

If you are going away over the festive season, you could consider making your home pay for itself while you’re away. Renting out your home while you’re away might be a great way to make some money while you’re on holiday, and short-term rentals may be in high demand for your area. If renting your home out for the holidays seems like a good money-spinning solution for you, consider:

  • Setting up an appointment with a reputable estate agent, or managing agent, to gauge the general consumer interest in holiday rentals for your suburb.
  • Signing up on AirBnB or a similar platform, to rent out your home for the holidays.
  • Hiring a specialist service that can take care of checkins, checkouts, and everything your guests need while you’re away.

Read more: 9 things to consider before becoming an AirBnB host.

Stash your bonus

Now that you’ve sorted out your groceries, picked up all the gifts, and planned your holiday with a budget-friendly approach, it’s time to save. We’re talking about that thirteenth cheque, that bonus you’ve been working towards, or that extra little stash of money that pays out at year-end. There’s no sweet way to say this: stash it. If stashing it means ploughing it into paying back your home loan or bond, do it. If saving it means bulking up your fixed deposit account, do it. If stashing it means paying off some debts that you have gathered during 2019, pay them off. Your Future You will thank you, when next year’s festive season celebrations hit and you’re feeling a little more financially free.

Track your spending

Now that you’re fully committed to a festive season that won’t leave you broke, staying on track is important. It’s easier to stick to your budget when you’re easily able to see how and where you are spending your hard-earned cash. Start a spreadsheet, and make sure you add all your expenses and purchases to it, every day. Alternatively, download a mobile application that helps you track your spending - a quick online search will help you find the best one for your budgeting needs.

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