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10 ways to enjoy the festive season on a budget

11 December 2014, 11:20

The Festive Season - truly a wonderful time of year to spend with family and loved ones, but also often the time that influences consumers world-wide to push their budgets and bank balances more than before.

While the inevitable holiday shopping and planning has to be tackled, it is important to remember that you don’t need to break the bank. In fact, you should try to ensure that your finances remain sound over this time.

If you are feeling financially flummoxed in the face of the imminent festivities, keep the following tips in mind:

1.    Speak to your family: Make a collective decision with family members that the Festive Season should be about family, not debt.

2.    Draw up a realistic budget: Set yourself a budget for December and take January into consideration. Start with your regular monthly expenses and see how much you can afford on gifts and entertaining for the month. Remember that a budget is not a target, and if it isn’t stuck to, it may limit money that will need to be spent elsewhere.

3.    Shop early: The adage of ‘the early bird catches the worm’ is often true, so get to the shops early and avoid the drama of overpriced and marked-up goods. Try doing all your shopping in one day, avoid browsing and stick to your list.

4.    Buy in bulk where you can: If you have  many people you need to give gifts to, consider buying the same item in bulk at warehouse stores. From make up to jewellery, there are several items that can be purchased together resulting in each item being discounted.

5.    Plan a ‘Staycation’: Think of fun stuff to do, without going on an expensive holiday. Visit places that your hometown offers and create a "holiday itinerary" by researching local art exhibits, zoos, theatres, outdoor festivals, museums, dams and lakes, bike trails, camping sites or other attractions.

The new way to celebrate: When hosting a dinner with guests, ask your guests to buy, cook and bring various elements of the lunch or dinner to save costs. So instead of  all the cost laying on your plate for catering, let everyone contribute so the cost is shared and not too expensive individually.

6.    Make the festive decorations your DIY project: Go online and look for ideas on how to make your own decorations, table decor and even gifts. As an example, dip pine cones in gold paint and place on side tables or use them to fill baskets and bowls. Involve the children  by getting them to make cards and gift tags from old cards you were sent last year, scraps of wrapping paper, ribbon etc.

7.    Send E- cards:  A pack of 10 generic Christmas cards can cost around R40. Why not save on the costs of buying them, as well as envelopes and postage by going online to download cards and then emailing them?

8.    Send an e-Gift/online shopping: Why not purchase your gifts online using sites such as Kalahari or Spree? By shopping online, you can stick to a strict budget, you won’t be distracted by promotions and specials in store and you can easily compare prices to get the best deal.

9.    Use your credit or store card wisely: Try to avoid using store cards, which often charge intereststarting at 12%. If you do have to use a credit card for a bigger ticket item, remember if you pay back your full outstanding balance within 55 days, your credit is usually interest-free.

Interest is charged immediately on credit card cash withdrawals, so only use your credit card at a point of sale device, to avoid transaction fees when swiping.

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- Women24

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