It’s so easy to get into debt at this time of year, but financial headaches can be avoided if you follow these tips.
Spend wisely over Christmas
Thu, 01 Dec 2005
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Spend wisely this holiday season, says the MFRC, and plan for the expenses you will face once the “silly season” is over.
This is the advice of the Micro Finance Regulatory Council’s Education and Communication Manager, Peter Setou. “Bonuses present a great temptation to buy, buy, buy,” he says, “but we strongly encourage people to stop, think and plan their expenses very carefully, especially over this period.”
Many small purchases make a large dent
“Often, debt results from an accumulation of many smallish purchases: each one doesn’t appear to amount to much, but when they are all added together, they can make a very big dent in one’s budget,” he cautioned.
“Consumers also tend to forget that they must still provide for the usual expenses, such as rent, school fees, clothing, food, transport and the like, and want to spend most of their available cash on items which they don’t really need and actually cannot afford.”
“Christmas is an expensive time for us all, but don’t go overboard on gifts and entertaining,” says Setou. “In January, the yearly cycle starts again and there will be demands on our income — and we face undue financial stress if we have been unwise in the way we spent our funds.
“A good plan is to double up on your regular payments — such as mortgage or rent, and light and water. That way you’ll have prepaid those January expenses and given yourself some breathing space after the holiday season for New Year costs such as school fees and uniforms.”
Setou offers these pointers:
- Try not to be tempted by the flood of advertisements in newspapers and on radio and television.
- Plan carefully and pay particular attention to your budget, especially bearing in mind the additional expenses that come with the New Year.
- Don’t spend what you don’t have — and that means: avoid borrowing unnecessarily.
- Be careful of “no-deposit” offers, because those are loans and can attract heavy interest and other charges.
- The Christmas season brings out the giving nature in us all. Be careful to give only what you can afford. Sometimes the gift of time is more appreciated by family members you don’t see often, than some material thing.
- Banks and other lenders will offer to extend your credit limits at this time of year on credit cards or giving you longer periods to pay. This only means more pressure later in the year.
- Spend wisely now and enjoy a financially relaxed and peaceful new year.
- If you do decide to borrow money, make sure you borrow only for what is strictly necessary and ensure that you can afford the repayments.