Tips to survive the New Year on a shoestring
December often hits us smack in the eye – holidays, Christmas, insurances, medical aid updates, etc. And while bonuses may or may not be coming in, the possibility of finding yourself a wee bit short as January rolls around, is not uncommon.
Not having a good time over the holidays is simply not on the agenda – so what can you do to survive the good times while ensuring that your bank balance remains on an even keel, your commitments are met, and you can party with good conscience?
A budget of do’s and don’ts to ease you into the New Year
Of course the easiest way to survive a splurge in spending is to plan for it. Well ahead of time. There are many things you can do throughout the year that will prepare and fortify you during the end of year transition.
- Consolidate any debts and make sure you pay as much off as you can during the year. Debt is baggage you don’t want to carry over into the next year if you can possibly help it. Being debt-free by December avoids the drag-down feeling of knowing you really don’t have the money to have a good time. Pay commitments first – and put as much as you can after this, into some extra debt repayment.
- Have a good look at cost-cutting where you can. Do you really need that full DStv package? Could you downgrade on your internet? Are you over spending on clothes or general non-essentials? If you look hard enough, there is often a way to cut back on expenditure – especially the impulse buying, running up accounts. And try not to fall into the trap of spending just to feel good. Keep an account of what you’re spending. You might be surprised at how quickly money disappears. Just don’t leave yourself open for a shock after the bleary eyes of New Year clear by the first week in January.
- Begin the habit during the year of searching for deals and bargains. Sales, promotions, vouchers, coupons, online specials – are canny ways to save those vital pennies that will keep your monthly balance buoyant. Look ahead to Christmas and buy early, pick up great deals during the year so you don’t have to spend big in December. It may seem like penny-pinching but it will help to buffer the long month between December and January salaries.
- Make sure your finances are working for you through the year. Savings and investments should be giving good returns – and if not, consult your financial advisor and make changes to improve your assets as best you can. Never leave money to lie ‘fallow’. If it’s not working for you, you’re getting poorer. Think twice before spending – and rather invest that money. Beware the ‘death knell’ of immediate gratification.
- Cash-back options are everywhere. Cash in on those and you could be saving more than enough to avoid a skinny survival in January. Also try to use public transport where you can and save on wear and tear on your car, petrol and parking.
- Be realistic about savings, about your goals. Dream big, but budget sensibly. Those last few weeks of the year can sometimes seem draining both mentally and financially. Never lose sight of what you want to achieve – not only for your survival through December and January, but far beyond that. Don’t take out loans unless absolutely necessary – perhaps for your children’s education or your own self-improvement. And avoid borrowing on your policies. When you apply caution during the year, you have a better chance of financial ease in the next.
- Plan for big issues such as insurance, rates, electricity, medical aid, etc. Over-budget for all these commitments throughout the year, so that you reach the end of the year clear and above the danger line.
- Include an emergency budget for those unexpected visits to the dentist and the doctor – nothing throws you off-budget more quickly than a sore toe or a broken tooth. Not to mention car repairs and home appliances that go wrong. You only need to put a small amount into this fund each month – it mounts up over time and can prove very useful when things go awry.
- Equally important is an emergency income fund. If you’re working, you should have at least six months salary saved at any given time. If you own a business or have a variable income, you should increase this to around nine months of income savings set aside.
- De-cluttering or downsizing after Christmas can help you set a clean slate for the New Year, and give you an idea of how much you don’t actually need.
- And – most important tip of all – ensure you have a good financial advisor to help you on your journey – the planning, the advice, the monitoring – helping you to reach your goals and take the joy of one year through to the next.
Enjoy a richer start in January with us!
The BellRyck Financial Group boasts a proud history spanning three decades. We offer short-term insurance, as well as long-term financial investment products and advisory services through our specialist network of service providers.
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