Tips for saving money in December

With December nearly in sight and school summer holidays just around the corner, getting financially prepared for the season ahead is a must. We all know how holiday expenses can add up: kids are at home in the holiday week, expecting to be entertained, families often travel long distances to holiday destinations, which means more money spent on petrol, food, and accommodation. If it’s your turn to host relatives or friends this year, there’ll be extra mouths to feed, more fun excursions to finance, bills to haggle over and a higher utility bill to cover at the end of month.

Christmas gifts also need to be bought, cupboards traditionally stocked with snacks, drinks and extra holiday ‘spoils’ and, if that’s not expensive enough for you, there’s also the ‘Back to School’ season to prepare for in early January, with all the financial commitments that this entails.

If you’re lucky, someone in your family will get a work bonus; if not, you may need to put some additional plans in place to see out the leaner days in January, when life gets back to normal and all the celebrations are over and done with.

The following are a few of our top tips for saving money for December and surviving the Silly Season.

  • Don’t use your credit card
    As far as possible, avoid using your credit cards for paying off holiday expenses. Swiping your credit card to pay for luxuries may be tempting, but if you don’t have the means to pay it back in time or any extra savings to fall back on, it may be wise to tuck that card away safely and only use it for regular budget items instead.
  • Setting a budget
    We’ve already shared on the importance of setting a budget to help you through the tough economic times we are in as a country. Drawing up a special and realistic budget for the holiday season is also a wise plan for saving money for December. Knowing how much you have, are willing to spend, and on what exactly, can help you stay financially disciplined when the silly season hits and the stores are pulling out all the stops to get you to indulge and ‘buy, buy, buy’!
  • Cuts costs and save money now
    As you ramp up for the December holidays, consider cutting back on any unnecessary, nice-to-have spending over the next couple of months: eat out less, save your clothes budget for December, keep an eye out for specials, and book flights and accommodation now, when it’s generally cheaper to do so, instead of waiting until the very last minute.You can also split your Christmas shopping over the next few months – especially for gift purchases and buying non-perishable food items. It’s Black Friday in November in South Africa, which means stores will be preparing for big sales and discounts galore on that day, while Cyber Monday (also in November) caters exclusively to online shoppers and is a great opportunity to catch some discounted online sales – a great way to save money for December.
  • Let your home work for you
    Homes no longer have to stand empty over the holiday season: new online platforms like Airbnb make it easy to rent properties out to visiting tourists (or locals) who aren’t willing to pay expensive hotel or B&B rates and are happy to forego some finer luxuries to save on holiday accommodation costs.Use the money you earn from letting your home out over the festive season towards paying for your own holiday or save this money for the leaner months in the New Year. Better still, put your earnings into your home loan to bring down your interest rates, which will lead to long term savings.
  • Don’t neglect your home loan
    This bring us to our last point: as tempting as it might be to cut down on your home loan repayments over the upcoming holiday season, don’t. It’s important to protect your most important assets and not cut corners for short-term gains. Remember that the best gift you can give your family is the roof over their heads and their education. Keep the silly season in perspective and don’t put yourself under unnecessary financial pressure which you may regret later.Contact a consultant at SA Home Loans today for more information on managing your home loan, refinancing your loan, or to switch to SA Home Loans today.