It happens every year without fail: we save some money, maybe get a bonus, budget like mad, but come January, the only resolution we think about is how not to land up broke this time next year. Between buying presents, planning holidays and entertaining the kids, having money left over seems impossible. But it’s not. We’ve analysed the general holiday season spending sprees so you can buy your Christmas cake and eat it too.
Don’t buy extravagant gifts
Spreading your cash to buy gifts for a lot of people is not the easiest thing to do. Here are some tips on how to do it.
- The money gurus at Standard Bank suggest that you write down the names of everyone you need to buy gifts for and allocate a set amount of money appropriately.
- If you’re buying for a child under the age of eight, don’t spend money on brand names. They’re generally too young to know the difference between a R100 toy and a R1 000 toy with a name on it.
- When it comes to adults, get your friends and family to do a secret Santa. Each person draws a name from a hat and buys a gift for that person. Set a maximum amount that you can spend. The less you can spend the more creative you’ll have to be. You only find out who bought yours on the day you swap gifts.
- Sentimental gifts are all the rage. A picture frame with a special photo won’t cost you the world but it will mean a lot to whomever you give it to.
- It might be time to explain to the kids that Santa has gone through a bit of a recession this year, so the presents may not be as extravagant as last year’s. And this has absolutely nothing to do with them being naughty or nice.
What is December for if not to go on holiday? Sure, you’ll save money staying at home and going some other time in the year, but we don’t want you to miss out on all the fun. With a few savvy tips you’ll be able to take a family vacation and enjoy every moment of it.
- If you’re booking a place at the last minute, rather try out-of-the-way towns instead of the more commercialised holiday destinations – they’re much cheaper.
- If you can, stay with family. Buy a load of groceries (including washing powder if you plan to do laundry) and you’ll save a bundle.
- If you’re staying at a self-catering venue, don’t spend a fortune on food and eating out. There’s nothing wrong with toast and tea for breakfast!
- Consider going away with friends as well – if they also have children, even better. This way you can share accommodation costs and have others on hand to babysit.
- When it comes to family lunches, watch out! Now’s the time to pocket your pride, put your Nigella Lawson persona away and ask for help. Get each member to bring a different dish, and in no time you’ll have a three-course meal without buying the entire grocery store.
Entertainment for the kids
As parents, you’ll know that one of the most expensive things to do during the holiday season is to entertain the kids, especially when they’re around five or six years old. What you need to do is find a way to keep a smile on their faces and a lock on your purse all at the same time. Here are some suggestions:
- If you don’t have a pool, make friends with someone who does and take your kids there to swim and play during the day.
- Remember the days when playing hide-n-seek were the best time you ever had? Well now it’s time to introduce your children to the old-school ways of having fun. Show them and their friends that fun doesn’t have to involve lots of money or some kind of electronic equipment.
- You don’t want to keep the younger children cooped up inside all day. Find a safe park nearby, pack a picnic and set up under a tree. Don’t forget the water … and the wet wipes!
- If it’s a rainy day, hire some DVDs, pile a mattress or two in the lounge and make some hot chocolate. These are the kinds of memories that will make your children smile when they’re all grown up.
- Utilise nature. It’s generally free. If you’re at the coast, the beach is the place to go for loads of fun with the kids. If not, perhaps there’s a child-friendly walking trail around. Most towns have botanical gardens that are perfect for pushing a pram around.
- Set money aside to spoil the kids on some of the days. Depending on their age, take them somewhere magical for a treat. Think theme park, zoo, circus, game arcade.