LIFESTYLE NEWS - Christmas Day is almost here and while many families are going to financial extremes for this special time of year, numerous South Africans have to make the most of a tight budget.
Has 2019 taken its toll on your savings, leaving you stressed about Christmas?
Don't worry, according to DebtSafe's debt management expert, Wikus Olivier, there are quite a few ways to enjoy 25 December on a shoestring budget.
Time is valuable
People tend to forget what Christmas is really about. The free gift of spending time with relatives and friends definitely reaps rewards beyond what any material gift can ever offer. Spend some irreplaceable quality time with loved ones. No gift will ever replace time spent and memories created with those dear to them.
The ideal budget plan
Set up a "user-friendly" budget plan for Christmas Day that works for you. And stick to it! Your budget should be simple. Start as early as possible to get your finances in check so that you are financially prepared for Christmas day.
Practical tips for your Christmas budget:
- Determine how much money you have available for Christmas Day.
- Indicate what your expenses for Christmas Day will include, for example, food, gifts or fuel (if you need to travel).
- Be on the lookout for bargains on the items that you need to purchase.
An affordable Christmas meal
Get friends and family excited about Christmas lunch or dinner by getting them involved in the process. Ask Granny to bring her famous apple pie; tell each household to bring their favourite salad and you can provide the meat. This will certainly point you and your loved ones in the right direction to save money. Being the host doesn't mean that you have to carry every single expense by yourself. Olivier says it is wise to buy the necessary items (like meat) beforehand at your local farmer's market, rather than at the shopping centre. Now is the time to buy the canned foods and frozen goods that you will need. Do not wait until the last minute (this is when everything gets expensive). Do your homework regarding Christmas recipes to determine in advance what and how much of it you will need.
Fun doesn't need to be expensive
Fun activities are great for Christmas Day, but fun and affordable activities are even better. Get in touch with Mother Nature and have a garden camp-out. Or how about building a blanket fort in the living room? You and your loved ones can also explore your city as tourists and do affordable sightseeing activities like a picnic or a braai in the park. Take a drive through the famous streets that are showing off their Christmas lights and decorations. Be on the lookout for places that are affordable and where there is a low or no entrance fee.
Cheap but valued decorations and gifts
Christmas decorations and gifts do not have to be costly. Why would you buy items when you can use and spruce up the things that you already have available (such as pine cones and pegs)? This is not only a cheaper option but also a fun activity that you can do with the youngsters as well as the elder family members.
Apart from the above, families nowadays have a thrifty fad to buy only gifts for children or to place a limit on Christmas presents, for example R50. Each person brings a gift of about R50 to the Christmas party. This gift is then rotated together with the others and each person gets one.
There are numerous ways to make the most of your shoestring budget for December. Give the above tips a try - you may find that this wonderful time of year can be worth much more without spending a considerable amount of cash, not to mention avoiding the unnecessary stress that comes with it. If, however, you are stuck in an over-indebted situation and still fear that you will have an unenjoyable Christmas, get in touch with DebtSafe's advisors to offer the best assistance for your current situation.
Remember, the best things in life are free, or at least not that expensive.
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