Have a financial plan to see you through the festive season

Overspending will spoil your new year

A clear financial plan is essential for protecting your pocket over the holidays, says Gugu Sidaki, director and wealth manager at Wealth Creed. 


With only days left till Christmas you may be scrambling to get your last-minute shopping done and plan for special days like Reconciliation Day and New Year. 

In its Festive Season Survey released last year, online credit provider Wonga.co.za found that South Africans were expected to spend R200-billion over the festive season, with food and drinks, gifts and travel putting the most pressure on budgets. 

However, with our economy in stagnation and consumers facing continued strain, a clear financial plan is essential for protecting your pocket over the holidays, Gugu Sidaki, director and wealth manager at Wealth Creed, says. 

“It’s exceptionally important. The festive season is generally a time of celebration for most people so naturally the temptation to overspend is heightened. That’s why you need to plan for this time well in advance so you’re not in financial distress in the subsequent weeks and months,” Sidaki says. 

Jeannine Naude Viljoen, general counsel at TransUnion, says planning for the December break is both a short- and long-term process that requires a holistic approach to your finances. Although saving and budgeting for the holiday activities goes a long way, a financial plan is more detailed to include holiday costs you may overlook.

You must know how much disposable income you have to spend. Viljoen says you can check your credit report to determine your financial commitments and existing debts. This will help you determine whether you can afford to take on extra credit over the festive season. 

Make a shopping list and look out for online sales to curb unconscious spending accompanied with walking around the mall.
FNB Financial Advisory's Ester Ochse

Nkazi Sokhulu, co-founder and CEO at Yalu Financial Services, cautions against taking out credit when you struggle to curb your spending on your usual income. 

“The issue with taking credit over the festive season is that we often overspend in a bid to meet all our family’s needs and wants, which often leaves you with a headache of a bill come January.”

He says that although unsecured debt such as personal loans, revolving loans and pay-day advance loans are popular over this period, it is good practice to avoid them. 

“If you must take on credit, avoid credit with high interest and shorter repayment periods such as cash advances and pay-day loans. Speak to your bank about other options that may be available to you,” Sokhulu advises.

Once you have determined your financial standing and worked out your budget, it is just as important to remain on course once you are in the thick of the festivities, Ester Ochse, product specialist at FNB Financial Advisory, says.

She recommends having a check-list of all your holiday activities and related costs to ensure you stay on course.

“Make a shopping list, look out for online sales to curb unconscious spending accompanied with walking around the mall and get creative with your staycation entertainment like spending time cooking meals at home with friends and family,” Oschse suggests. 

If you plan on travelling over the holidays, talk to your bank ahead of time to arrange how you will transact without unnecessary expenses on your accounts or extra charges on transactions, Oschse says.

“It is important to let your bank know that you’ll be travelling internationally. If you have a global debit card, for example, and have moved money into it during the year, you can peg the exchange rate and know exactly what you are paying for your currency,” Oschse says.

Yanga Nozibele, investment associate at Cannon Asset Managers, says although the best time to prepare financially for the festive season is months ahead, you can still make use of the time left to relook and work on your December and January budget by taking a holistic look at your finances.

If you are lucky enough to get a 13th cheque or bonus at the end of the year, Marrietta du Preez, general manager at Ecsponent Financial Services, suggests you make smart choices before spending it, considering the state of the economy as this affects your earnings and savings.

“It is all too easy to reach January and wonder where your bonus went. It can take months just to recover from overspending during the festive season,” Du Preez cautions.

Sue Torr, managing director at Crue Invest, says not everyone enjoys a bonus, but if you are one of the lucky few, use your bonus to pay off existing debt or start preparing for the new year, especially if you have children who will require stationery and school uniforms.