Be smart to lower festive stress levels

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line

Year-end is just around the corner and the stress levels are mounting for some of us who will not be getting bonuses.

Although one has tried to plan around not pocketing that extra money, it was impossible considering the monthly fuel increases and the rise in the prices of food.

Mellony Ramalho, executive for sales, branch network at African Bank, said if you start putting money aside now there's a good chance that you will have enough for the festive season's extra expenses.

She said employees often get paid early in December, around the 15th, in preparation for the holidays. This makes the pay day in January a long stretch.

As a result, said Ramalho, January is a tough month for many people, resulting in some people resorting to using their credit cards recklessly or choosing to take out loans.

Ramalho encouraged the consumers to prepare a budget in an attempt to dodge overspending in December.

"While loans can be helpful, and credit cards can even offer consumers some worthwhile benefits and rewards over the festive season, be cautious of your spending habits [over this period]."

She said the people who plan to travel must also consider whether it is essential to travel over the expensive festive season or to push their holiday out by a month or two.

"Prices for accommodation, flights, car hire and so on generally double over the festive season. If you have flexibility in terms of travel plans, why not wait until March or April before travelling."

Ramalho also encourages consumers to also plan for possible increases in petrol and food prices. "There's a good chance that we'll see increases in expenses as we head towards the end of the year. If you can put a little extra away now to accommodate this, you won't feel the pinch as much in December."

She advised those traveling over the festive season to start a holiday petrol saving fund. By saving the money now, you won't have to pay out full petrol costs in December.

Ramalho also suggested shopping for those Christmas presents now.

"Look for specials and start stocking up now. Not only will it save you money in December, but the stress of last-minute shopping too.

"The good news is there are still a few weeks left before the end of the year. Now is the time to get smart about your money and plan ahead so you can enjoy your hard-earned cash. If you are feeling like your finances are out of control, or you need some advice, speak to a financial advisor.

This month we are celebrating Financial Planning Month, so why not take this opportunity to get on top of your finances and start planning for a prosperous future," she added.

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