After a challenging year, most South Africans are dreaming about taking some much-needed time off this December.
For most people though, there may not be any room in the budget.
But everyone deserves a break to visit family and friends and popular holiday destinations, and there are some ways to be wallet-wise and make your money go further over this period so that you don’t have to rely on credit to bring your holiday dreams to life.
“South Africans have certainly experienced tough times financially this year as a result of the cost-of-living crisis,” says Motlatsi Mkalala, Head of Main Markets for Standard Bank South Africa.
“The price of almost everything has gone up significantly in the year and this has made it difficult or impossible for many families to put money away for December festivities, for example. This may see some people taking on debt to cover such costs, which might negatively impact their finances in the new year.”
Mkalala explains that with the high cost of credit currently due to rising interest rates, “it is advisable to try and put some thought into simple ways that could help to create breathing room in your budget to pay for additional expenses over this time. Of course, this won’t be easy for everyone, but even if you can manage to free up a small amount of extra cash, every bit, when added together, makes up a larger sum”.
Mkalala says that you should determine the goal(s) you want to save for. Secondly, calculate your costs versus your income to determine if you have a surplus or a loss in your budget. Thirdly, determine what you do not need in your budget, and take it out. The final step would be to save the money you would have used on non-essentials as per your revised budget. The goal(s) you have determined in the first step will make it easier to stay motivated and find ways to free up cash and meet that holiday savings goal.
Take advantage of loyalty programmes
From banks to medical aid providers, retailers and gyms, loyalty programmes are offered almost everywhere. If you haven’t already, look at how many points you may have earned through loyalty programmes that can be saved to go towards the holiday.
Get to know the loyalty programmes you have signed up for; most will tell you how and where you can earn more points when spending. These points can then be used to bring the cost of purchases like groceries, gifts or fuel down.
Look at the way you use electricity
Despite persistent load shedding, the rise in electricity tariffs has resulted in an even bigger drain on household finances. So, you can look at ways of reducing your electricity use by being more efficient. Are your outside lights burning brightly during the day, or are your household members having long, hot showers or baths? Heating water uses a lot of electricity, so try to use it sparingly.
Most electric geyser thermostats are set to temperatures that are higher than necessary. You can turn your thermostat down to 60°C to help save electricity. By taking a few practical steps to reduce your everyday energy usage in the home, you can put an extra few hundred rand in your pocket.
Buy and sell second-hand items
You’ll be surprised by how much you can earn by selling your unwanted items. Go through each room in your home and collect as many unwanted items as possible. Nowadays, it has become easier than ever to sell items and clothing thanks to online platforms, and more people are buying second-hand goods. One can get anything, from clothing and furniture to appliances and electronics, at cheaper prices.
Consider reducing your travel spend
Frequent short trips can increase your petrol bill. If you’re able to work from home, you could potentially save a whack of money on transport costs. Otherwise, find out if there is someone who you could start a lift club with; it will reduce your monthly travel costs.
If you can’t afford a holiday even if you save, consider other ways to relax; remember that money spent on credit is borrowed, and you will have to pay it back with interest.