Christmas is only a few days away and some people are already overwhelmed by the costs associated with the holidays. The travel plans, the gifts and the string of parties that come with the festivities do not just bring fun, but anxiety too.
However, having a memorable Christmas doesn’t mean spending every last coin. Here is how you can have a memorable festive season and still go into the New Year without worrying about the infamous January blues.
Focus on quality time
Having fun during the festive season is not all about showing one’s financial muscle, nor does it require one to have a lot of money; it can be about caring and collective experiences.
It can be easy to get lost in the emotional or social trappings of holiday spending that in most cases leaves people in deficit. But one can make the holidays more about giving time, affection, consideration, prayer and service to others. This can be a very powerful way to show how you truly care for others.
Plan your expenditure
The holidays tend to be occupied with a number of activities, most of which require funding, whether it’s a dinner at home or an outing. Isaac Nkusi, a financial analyst, says every holiday activity requires some amount of funding and it’s usually too late to start saving for your holiday season in October or November, and, it is risky to expect a year-end bonus to pay for all your holiday needs.
“But by saving even just 5 to 10 per cent of your income every month for a year or two, you would be surprised what you can store up for the holiday season using just that discipline alone,” he says.
Consider handmade gifts
Christmas gifts do not necessarily have to be pricey; one can try and make handmade gifts such as homemade Christmas cards or snack baskets, among others. Alice Uwase says she made last Christmas a memorable one for her best friend because of the Christmas card she sent her.
“I didn’t know that such a simple gift would make one happy but I have come to learn that a gift doesn’t have to be expensive for it to be precious,” she says. Presents which are handmade carry an air of uniqueness and thought with them.
Nkusi advises that controlling your own holiday desires and the expectations of society goes a long way to make your holiday both enjoyable and affordable.
No one can afford all that they desire over the holidays. Do not be dragged into holiday expense debt because of your unchecked desires or the demands of others.
Do not be reckless with giving
When it comes to giving during the holidays, one should not be reckless. Just like all our desires can never be fulfilled, we can’t give everyone what they want or need from us.
“Be a good steward of your resources, make your spending budget, think through everyone you wish to bless (including yourself) and prioritise your spending responsibly. This way, you can be sure to make the biggest impact with your spending in a controlled manner,” Nkusi advises.
Plan for pocket-friendly holiday trips
If you want to travel for Christmas, it’s better to plan ahead and start saving earlier. The choice of destination should be agreed upon as a family because this helps in choosing the best destination that will be fun for all.
“Also, planning collectively is advisable as this will eliminate disagreements on how finances will be spent,” Robinah Ziwa, a counsellor, advises.
Resist the urge to borrow money
Borrowing interest earning debt to finance holiday expenses or any non-business or investment related to spending is unwise. The mentality that allows someone to ‘spend now, pay later’ on liabilities like holiday spending is damaging to your personal finances and creates a cycle of debt that most people never break free from, even over generations.
“Please do not borrow money for things like celebration expenses. Borrowed money should only be used for income generating activities otherwise that debt could very easily become a multi-generational curse,” Nkusi argues.