The festive season is fast approaching and I thought it is best to talk about that now whilst there is still time. I figured that if I discuss this subject in say, December, it might be too late. I want to talk about things that if you take heed of starting now they will benefit you the most. Typically the festive season is now celebrated very differently from yesteryears in Zimbabwe. Growing up I recall how much we would anticipate the festive season. There was always more than enough money and resources to enjoy that period. The Zimbabwean economy has been mercurial for a while now and as such things are no longer the same. The state of the economy is part of the core reason why I have to discuss financial advice for the festive season.
Plan Your Expenditure – Budgeting
The festive season falls under months just like any other month. I am saying that to say this – you must budget just like you do for any other month. Do not spend without budgeting especially because there is a huge temptation for unchecked spending during that time. Prioritize what needs to be prioritized i.e. fixed monthly expenses (rentals, utility bills, and so on). Decide how much you are going to spend during Christmas and New Year’s. It could be an outing or family gathering; the bottom line is you must allocate specific amounts for whatever you want to do.
Spend Within Your Means
This should inform your budgeting that I have just been discussing. Do not budget using money that is not there; for instance, do not borrow money to spend during the festive season. The budget on what is actually there. Another example is bonuses for those with formal jobs. Do not borrow premised on the anticipation of a bonus at work – it might not come. Then working with what you really have, plan to do or spend money on things within your means. If what you have cannot suffice for say, an outing, then do not force things. An intimate time at home, as a family with just specially prepared meals, can actually be enough.
Have The New Year In Mind
The festive season is a passing phase that comes and goes every year. The biggest irony is that most people spend time totally blinded to the fact that it is but for a short time. As soon as it is done January comes and people traditionally lament about “January disease”. Those who get cornered by that disease have no one to blame but themselves. They would have spent money during the festive season as if there is no tomorrow. In fact, as you plan your festive season expenditure you must be regulated by looking at the near future. Things like rentals, school fees and the like will be waiting for you at the end of January. Do not short circuit the opening months of the New Year just because you spent the closing moments of the preceding year recklessly.
Rigorously Compare Prices
This is something that is always advised on but it is more important during the festive season. There will definitely be specials being offered by the different outlets. Take time to thoroughly compare prices before you make the ultimate purchase. Trust me there are so many times I have noticed that prices for the same thing would be different at different outlets in the very same town. The festive season is characterised by businesses jostling for clients and one way they do this is by offering discounts, specials, and what nought. If you take time to move around and compare prices you will definitely end up spending less.
There is a common adage which says, “Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success”. When planning festive celebrations it can actually be cheaper to celebrate collectively. You can organize family gatherings or just get together events as friends and colleagues. What this does is that it makes you spend less because you will all be contributing to one thing. Where possible explore this approach as it will definitely help you spend way less than had you celebrated independently.
Know What Truly Matters
This here deals with immaterial or psychological aspects about the festive season. There is a particular mindset you must have regarding this time of the year. Do not seek to impress people or do not be pressured into measuring up to other people. I usually reference an example of how people are pressured to spend beyond their means just because they are looking at someone spending lots of money. In theory that person could have taken out a loan to spend that money; just an example. Diasporans can come over from SA with rented cars and you will feel pressured to measure up. Bottom line is you must not premise your spending decisions on making comparisons of yourself against other people. Do you know what truly matters about the festive season? For me it is two things, taking time to unwind from the busy year and spending quality time with loved ones.
Do you know that reckless spending during the festive season can set you up for a dismal year ahead? You can start the New Year with a bunch of financial problems all because you spend money like it was your final moments on earth. Be disciplined, enjoy, and spend responsibly during this upcoming festive season. The journey to a frugal and disciplined expenditure during this year’s festive season all starts now.