Let’s be honest, a little retail therapy can go a long way, especially after the year we’ve all had. But unless you want your January to become Jan-u-worry, you’ll need to avoid overspending and keep your spending in check.
It’s easy to be caught up in the festivities in December, and that often means splashing more cash on things such as entertainment, gifts and spoils for yourself. Maybe you’re even lucky enough to receive a Christmas bonus, which just adds to your generosity. But it’s just as easy to lose track of how much you’re spending and then you’re in danger of dipping into the money you need for bills, groceries and back to school supplies.
6 ways to avoid overspending
Watching your spending is easier said than done. It probably won’t be a whole lot of fun, but future you – 2021 you – will thank you for it! Here are some ways to avoid overspending:
1. Get ahead of the game with a holiday budget
Pull up last year’s holiday season bank and credit card statements. Then, make a list of this year’s potential holiday costs based on what you spent last year (minus all the social gatherings we’ve had to cancel because of Covid). From there, write down a budget listing how much you are able to spend and put it somewhere you’ll see every day. Keep track of every little bit you spend until 31 December.
Pro saving tip: A budget gives you a plan you can stick to. There will always be more expenses than you plan for though, which is why it’s a good idea to look at last year’s actual expenses before you begin. If your budget exceeds what you can spend without putting yourself into debt, start looking for ways to cut costs.
2. Walk on by and avoid the impulse buy
If simply creating a budget was the only thing we needed to do to avoid overspending we’d be all set. Unfortunately, even with budgets firmly in hand, it’s far too easy to swipe that card because a good deal – and there are many this time of year – is just too hard to resist, right?
Pro saving tip: Here’s a little hack to stick to the list of items you need when entering a shop. If you see something great that’s not on the list, keep walking and think about it. Once the impulse passes, you probably won’t go back for it. If you’re still thinking about it the next day, you can always go back (this time with it on your list).
3. Inconvenience yourself a little
Why is it that we’ll cook every meal for most of the year and then Ke Dezemba arrives and we’re suddenly ordering takeaways or eating out every night? One of the biggest hidden costs during the holiday season are “convenience” expenses, money we spend on little splurges to save ourselves some time.
Pro saving tip: Roll up your sleeves and make your meals yourself – even better, make them as a family. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll have saved by the end of the year.
4. It’s the experience that counts
Before you splurge on a big-ticket item, ask yourself these two questions:
- Would the person you’re buying the gift for rather share a great experience with you?
- Is there something special you can make that will be inexpensive but meaningful?
Pro saving tip: There’s an added bonus to choosing an experience as a gift – you might be able to schedule it (and pay for it) a few months out, which will give you time to save, and your bank account a bit of room to breathe.
And as for making instead of buying a gift, think about how much more it will mean to your loved one to get something you spent hours crafting instead of snatching something off a shelf? You can customise it to be a one-of-a-kind gift. There are hundreds of DIY gift ideas on the internet, from tasty treats, art and earrings to spice racks, soap gift packs and even socks with personalised messages ironed onto them! Just Google it and you’ll find the perfect idea for a present and pick up a new skill in the process.
5. Focus on how you want to feel in January
While we can all agree that #twentyplenty didn’t quite turn out as planned and we have no idea what 2021 will bring, keep in mind that after the excitement of presents and special holiday treats are gone, the bills remain. By focusing on January and kick-starting the new year with a bang, you’ll be able to stay more focused and stick to your budget.
Pro saving tip: If you really want to scratch that retail therapy itch without compromising a great start to 2021, shop for things you’ll need in 2021, such as school stationary or paying for school fees early. Not as much fun as buying shiny things you don’t need, sure, but you’ll be glad you got these out of the way and took the “worry” out of Jan-u-worry. If you received a bonus or stokvel payout this month, put it away for January. The new year brings with it price increases and other expenses, so keep the extra cash you have now as a buffer.
6. Give your saving habits super powers
If you’re serious about saving for something special in 2021, TymeBank offers a great tool to get you started. Watch your savings grow day by day with GoalSave, a savings tool linked to your EveryDay account that you can monitor and control from your smartphone.
With GoalSave you can:
- Save for up to 10 different goals at the same time
- Earn more the longer you save
- Get up to 8% interest a year
- Use the GoalSave calculator to work out how much you need and for how long you’ll need to save to reach your goals.
Get started now. Go to https://www.tymebank.co.za/save-earn/goal-save/