The festive season is the most wonderful time of the year. For many South Africans, it’s also the most expensive. Between shelling out cash on Christmas presents and treating yourself after another crazy year, saving money for surviving dry January becomes an afterthought. The outcome of spending all this mad money is that quite a number of people start a new year with a negative balance.
December is generally an exciting time since it revolves around buying Christmas presents in excess, travelling home, heading off on holiday and partying the month away. January has been described as the longest month of the year, as the last salary is paid mid-December which makes having a budget a must. During this time, it’s crucial to draw up a spending plan to help manage your expenditures.
There are plenty of obstacles to surviving Januworry. Between debit orders, rent and ‘back to school’ shopping, it’s easy to end up overspending both your salary and your bonus. This can push you into some tight corners, which results in skipped monthly installments or reversed debit orders. You may find it necessary to look for an emergency cash injection in the form of a personal loan or overdraft. While convenient, neither of these options is the ideal solution, for families struggling to keep afloat.
Tips on surviving Januworry
The good news is you can avoid the January blues. You want to start 2020 on a high note and with proper financial planning, you can. Aside from cutting down on alcohol, takeaways, entertainment, and unnecessary shopping trips, surviving dry January can be achieved with the following tips:
- Stick to your planned budget: when it comes to Christmas, it’s easy to get carried away and blowing your bonus by new year’s. Don’t be led into temptation; try using handy financial tools to help you manage your spending, like 22Seven or MoneySmart.
- Review your budget: reviewing your monthly spending could save you money in the long run. Always aim to live and spend within your means.
- Bonus money: to those who are fortunate enough to receive a 13th cheque, it's important to make your debt a priority and rather use your bonus money to pay off any outstanding debt and debit orders due in January.
- Buy in bulk: investigate how much food you and your family are going to need for December and January. This will make it easier for you to plan ahead and look out for reduced prices and sales where you can save more and spend less.
- Protect your savings: try to avoid dipping into your emergency savings during the festive season.
Surviving a January finance disaster and saving money is possible. However, if all else fails, a personal loan may prove to be a viable financial option for you. Make sure you plan and prioritise what matters especially during the festive season.