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South African consumers have no doubt felt a hard knock in their pockets this year, with several petrol price hikes and ever-increasing living expenses. As consumers get ready to enjoy some time off with family and friends over the holiday period, it’s important to remember not to overdo it when it comes to spending this festive season.

The result of overspending during the holiday season sets the tone for the year ahead. December’s overindulgences can become January’s problems, forcing consumers to play catch-up with their finances in the first few months of the New Year,” says Lebogang Gaoaketse, Communications, Social Media and PR Manager at WesBank.

WesBank offers some important tips which can help you stay financially healthy this festive season and into the New Year:

Use your early December pay cheques for January expenses

With the festive downtime and annual holidays, businesses often pay employees earlier in December. This pay cheque is intended to be used for January’s expenses. Some consumers however, may see this as an early windfall, and use it to finance their festive plans, in turn affecting January expenses.  

Don’t be tempted to cancel debit orders

As a result of poor planning and being cash strapped, consumers find themselves opting to cancel debit orders in order to use the money for other commitments. This will only get consumers deeper into debt come January because it means being debited twice for the respective commitments. This not only puts the consumer under pressure at the beginning of the year but it also has a negative impact on their credit record due to missed payments.

Draw up a Christmas shopping list

The festive season is fun but also goes by relatively quickly, and going into the stores blindly can often lead to impulse purchases of things that you and your family want but don’t need. Drawing up a shopping list and setting a budget will help you focus on items you really need, while ensuring you spend within your means.

Don’t spend money you do not have

Many people anticipate an annual bonus and spend money on credit in advance – planning to repay their debts when their bonus is paid. This can be very risky. Consumers should rather spend money they have in the bank and at their disposal. This is especially important in the current uncertain economic climate, where businesses may continue to struggle to afford rewarding employees with bonuses.

Careful planning and responsible spending is far more rewarding than taking advantage of festive deals or using additional credit facilities to accommodate a way of life that isn’t affordable. Instead, save up for the year ahead and try to live a credit-light lifestyle where you only use credit facilities for the absolute necessities.

“Now is the time to implement a watertight strategy for your personal finances if you and your family are going to survive the economic year ahead. Customers need to think twice before they splurge their savings, early salaries and bonuses. It’s vital that they take note of exactly how much money they have available to them and work out their budgets accordingly. This will allow them to enjoy the festive season while ensuring they have enough money to accommodate their regular expenses,” adds Gaoaketse