The festive season is that time of the year we celebrate and have fun with our families and friends. It is also, however, that time of the year during which we tend to spend money most impulsively.
During this period we often get in to the habit of ignoring the looming financial responsibilities, such as school fees, food and other bills that may come in the New Year, distracted by the more short-term excitement of Christmas shopping and holiday travels. Hard as it may seem, though, the best gift to give our families and ourselves this festive season is to make good financial decisions, and we have the power to do just that.
In order to start the New Year in a financially stable position, one must be aware of how they spend their money during this period. Indeed, it is crucial to budget and save for the New Year, allowing for both the expenses and necessities as well as catering for some New Year unexpected costs and “treats.” Paramount is to ensure avoidance of falling into a debt trap.
“Financial management and financial literacy are what we as a bank will continue to drive to move Batswana forward. Our management of household debt and spending is a serious issue in Botswana. We therefore encourage Batswana to manage their personal finances during this festive season by empowering themselves with information on how to better manage their money, how to budget, and how to save,” said Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Customer Channels, Calistas Chijoro.
A great way to avoid overspending and begin a prosperous New Year is to keep a stringent budget and keep record of all expenditure. Planning and spending accordingly is what will ensure a stress free start come January 2017. Make sure you track all your spending and income by saving your receipts and writing down your purchases so you have an accurate picture of your financial situation. This way, you will have enough money for the things that are important to you and also keep you out of debt or help you clear out your debt if you are currently in debt.
Make sure you plan your purchases in advance by writing down what you need to buy while you're calm and at home. Make a plan without any pressure or undue stress where possible. It will help you to be more focused and make the best financial decisions.
Try to avoid impulse purchases. If you are only buying something because you find the act of shopping fun, you'll likely end up spending too much on stuff you do not need. Try and remain focused and disciplined. If you must, ensure you take limited cash with you so you deter from spending beyond your means or your budget.
Make sure you pay in full and in cash to avoid debts. Be encouraged to use your credit and debit cards wisely when purchasing gifts for your family and friends. Credit and Debit cards are safe and convenient means of payment, but it is important that you are mindful of the guidance your bank shares on ensuring you do not exceed your credit card limit, and you monitor your statements and SMS alerts to track your spending.
Before making your purchases, do your research and take all costs into account. Shop around for the best deal, read print advertisement and make your calculations and see how much you can spend before making your decision. Research is important as it gives you direction and helps you to be on top of things and helps you to be in control of your finances. Ensure you set a budget that is feasible. Too stringent and you may find you are setting yourself up for failure; too generous and you are defeating the purpose. You need to accommodate for the pressing expenses and yet still allow for a bit of entertainment and leisure spend. Start by making a list of the expenses and then add in activities you anticipate as “treats” such as eating out once every fortnight, for example. Then review and trim accordingly.
“Financial management is a very critical aspect of one’s life. From keeping a stringent budget to keeping record of all expenditure, ensuring that you always have enough finance when you need it the most, as well as ensuring you have an adequate savings for any emergencies that may occur such as funerals, car repairs and others. Spend your festive season with a motive to save, bearing in mind that the New Year awaits s and will have its own financial demands,” concluded Chijoro.
Let us celebrate this festive season responsibly so that we can avoid entering January with more stress than confidence!