With the rising cost of living and the festive season around the corner, personal finance management is becoming an increasingly top-of-mind priority for South Africans.
Andile Jonas, Head of Marketing at Momentum Financial Planning, gives a few financial hacks for consumers to not only survive the festive season without breaking the bank, but to also be deliberate about how they spend their money. He also offers a few ideas on how they can even save money along the way.
1. Host potluck style
Potluck refers to a communal gathering where each guest or group contributes a different, often homemade dish of food to be shared.
“Dining out can be very expensive, especially if you are hosting friends and relatives over the December period. Ask your guests to chip in and you will find entertaining infinitely less expensive. It can also bring some celebratory creativity to the dining room table, as each guest offers a food choice unique to their tastes,” says Jonas.
2. Buy gifts ahead of time
You don’t have to wait until a week or two before Christmas to go shopping. Jonas says that he often starts picking up gifts throughout the year to make sure these items aren’t a big expenditure in December.
“Both birthday and Christmas gifts should be bought throughout the year, especially if you spot something that you know your loved one will be crazy about. Mid-year sales, or even early January sales, are a good time to shop for gifts if you can afford it. Keep them stashed away in the back of your cupboard and update a list of who you still need to shop for throughout the year to minimise expenses in December,” says Jonas.
3. Black Friday and Cyber Monday – a good or bad idea?
South Africa is no longer new to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday movement, and consumers expect sales and discounts from retailers on these days. According to Qwerty Digital, most retail or mall websites receive an average of 150% increase in website visits to their promotion pages, and in 2015 Absa reported that card spending increased by 81% on Black Friday compared to any other average day throughout the year.
“There are amazing sales and specials on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but I would advise consumers not to splurge on items only because they are available at a discounted rate. Instead of allowing yourself to be seduced by marketing ploys and spending money on things you don’t need, earmark a few big-ticket items – for example, a television or refrigerator for the home that you need to replace. Understand what your real needs are, and keep an eye out for worthwhile discounts and promotions on these days,” says Jonas.
4. Save throughout the year
The age-old advice of relying less on any kind of debt shouldn’t be lost during the silly season. Saving throughout the year can also go a long way in ensuring your December spending doesn’t get out of control.
“Reduce your debt, starting with that dreaded credit card. Avoid undoing any ground gained by setting money aside in your monthly budget for your December holidays. Even if it’s R500 that you put into a 30-day account, this can be a welcome nest egg when the festive season rolls around,” says Jonas.
5. Prioritise your wants and needs
Saving becomes infinitely easier when you have a reminder of what you’re working towards.
“Draw up a list of the top five to 10 items you most need to pay for during the year. This list will make it easier to remember why you are setting aside money each month. Whether you want to make sure you are able to pay your children’s school fees by January, or you want to go on a luxury holiday, this list – and even the act of physically writing these priorities down on paper – can help keep you focused on your bigger financial goals throughout the year,” says Jonas.
6. Maximise on your reward schemes
There are several reward schemes that consumers can make use of. Multiply, Momentum’s rewards and wellness programme, has partners that South Africans have shown a real affinity towards, such as Pick n Pay and Dis-Chem.
“Make the most out of savings and the cashback rewards that you are entitled to. Be conscious about where your money goes and optimise every saving opportunity that comes your way,” concludes Jonas.