As the festive season nears, have you thought about what you and your family are going to need?
Have you put enough money aside to meet those needs? Or are you one of those people who fund through borrowing?
The mistake most of us make is that we do not count the real cost of the money we spend - before we spend it.
Though the festive season should be a time of joyful sharing in every household, it is often marred by inadequate resources to meet the family's needs and wants.
This often leads to growing debt as households fund their demands through borrowing.
We still have time to avoid this financial disaster. Let us not spend on credit cards or on hire purchase agreements. Borrowed money is always expensive because credit is costly.
Elias Masilela, chairman of the South African Savings Institute, says people often hit the festive season ignoring financial responsibilities such as school fees that come only too quickly in the new year.
"Draw up a budget for all expenses before allocating money for festive season spending," advises Masilela.
"Consider alternatives, such as making gifts yourself which are more meaningful; or buying non-branded good quality gifts at a fraction of the cost."
Those who have not saved for this year, should go into it with caution and concentrate on needs rather than wants.
Masilela urges employers to help employees become sustainable savers withpension plans and investment schemes.
"They can also educate their staff on how to budget, how to spend responsibly, how to save, and on the vast and long-term benefits to a household of living within its means.
Retailers can help through responsible advertising campaigns and consumer education.
"The benefits are manifold," says Masilela.
Retailers will see a drop in unpaid accounts, saving on debt collection and establish a more positive "consumer-friendly" image in the marketplace.