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The festive season is fast approaching, and all that merry-making can be expensive. There is a lot of pressure to buy things during the holidays, and that can be stressful—and bad for your wallet. However, there are ways to ensure that you cover all your monthly expenses and still have some cash to spare to make your holiday special.

  • Set a spending limit for gifts.

Set limits on how much you want to spend on gifts, and try your best to stick to that. There are plenty of ways to give someone a gift they will love without blowing your budget.

  • You don’t have to buy gifts for everyone.

If your shopping list includes more than five people outside of your immediate family, cut down on the number of people on your present list.

Then, bake some cookies to give to all the people you snipped from your original gift list.

Consider Secret Santa to limit gift buying or go in on a group gift such as getting all your siblings in on buying one big gift for your parents.

  • Comparison Shop

When shopping for big-ticket items such as electronics, be sure to comparison shop. And take some time to research the items online and how much they cost at different stores so when you’re ready to buy, you know you’re getting a bargain.

  • Cut Back on Extras (For a Month)

To ease the strain on your budget, try cutting back on extras for a month. If you give up that R50 latte you have each morning for 30 days, you can save R1500 which could go toward Christmas gifts. And if you do splurge on yourself in the days leading up to Christmas, make sure it’s worth the price.

  • Write down all of your anticipated holiday expenses.

Make note of all of your potential expenses for the holidays. This includes any travel, dinners you may be hosting, and of course, gifts.

Figure out your holiday expenses and start saving early, so your holidays can be more about making memories and less about spending money you don’t have.

  • Plan your travel early—and stick to a budget during your travels.

If you’re traveling during the holidays, account for expenses such as activities, food, and shopping. Assign a specific amount of money to each category like lodging, shopping, gifts, and food. And then stick to the budget!

  • Keep an eye out for sales and deals in the months leading up to Christmas.

Planning for holiday spending well in advance gives you a chance to get good deals on gifts—and more time to think about what you want to give everyone. If you wait until the last minute, it’s more likely that you’ll end up spending way more than you intended.

  • Manage expectations

When you have set up your budget plan, explain to your family how you allocated money for expenses and gifts during the holidays. This will help you and them avoid disappointment.

  • Swear off credit cards

Do not buy something if you cannot afford it in cash. Most people tend to get carried away over the festive season by going overboard without a proper plan set in place. Be careful not to fall in the over-indebted trap during the December holidays because it will probably have damaging consequences come January.

  • Make good use of your year-end bonus.

Instead of spending your bonus over the holidays, use a percentage of that to settle small debts which will improve your cash flow. Save some of it to see you through the long month of “Janu-Worry”.

In summary, you need to think twice about how you are going to spend your hard-earned money during the holiday season. Don’t let your debt become the Grinch that robs the fun from your holiday season.

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