As food prices and interest rates continue to rocket, many consumers may find it difficult to treat themselves this festive season.
But Lindi Mukhuba, Absa regional manager for Retail Banking, says spending the 13th cheque wisely this festive season may turn this gloomy period into another enjoyable season.
Makhuba says: "The biggest mistake most people make when getting their 13th cheque is to spend it without any thought.
"Used correctly, it can be a great way to start the new year as it can bring real financial relief when you have overspent.
"The 13th cheque can be helpful in times like these, when interest rates and monthly repayments are on the rise and there seems to be no relief in sight"
Tips to follow to ensure that the 13th cheque works for you this Christmas:
l By all means, spend some of the bonus cheque on a treat, but while doing so, consider the real benefits that cheque can bring in the new year.
l Pay off some of the debts that can easily be forgotten, such as clothing accounts and gym and club membership fees. "At year-end, these are forgotten and have a nasty habit of becoming due just when we have forgotten them," says Mukhuba.
l Start building an emergency fund with your bonus cheque and earn interest by putting it into a savings or investment account. Most experts recommend that we have at least six months' income set aside for emergencies.
l Pay the cheque into your mortgage bond.
"This means you get a high rate of tax-free interest on your money. It reduces your long-term debt and can be accessed through a bond loan account whenever it is required," says Mukhuba.
l Use the money to pay for home renovations and possible upcoming car expenses like new tyres.
This will free up your cash flow in the months ahead, as they will not impact on your monthly pay cheque.