This article was published in GetIt Pretoria Magazine, Pretoria East Rekord and Centurion Rekord Newspapers.

December is time for fun, relaxation and spending time with loved ones. It is school holidays and the children need to be entertained for an extended period. Many people go away to a holiday destination while other people stay at home and do day trips. December is associated with entertainment, activities and gifts.  

You are going to spend money during the festive season, but try to keep within your budget. Everything is more expensive during December and January is a long and tough month with plenty of expenses that you need to take into account. Enjoy the holidays but spend wisely. Here are a few saving tips for the holiday season:

  • You don’t always need to buy expensive gifts. Most adults and children value time and attention more than expensive gifts. Give your loved ones the valuable gift of your time and attention this December. Rather create memories, because memories last a lifetime.
  • Ask your family and friends to compile a wish list for X-mas. Rather spend money on gifts that will be appreciated than wasting money on gifts the receiver won’t use or derive value from.
  • Shopping during the festive season is unavoidable but plan your shopping sprees in advance. Don’t go to the shops unnecessarily, compile a shopping list and stick to it, look out for discounted prices and make use of loyalty programmes at shops.
  • Don’t spend a fortune on decorations that will rapidly be forgotten. Use fruit bouquets that can double-up as dessert and flowers from your garden to create something cost effective, unique and special.  
  • Entertaining will feature on your to-do list this summer, but don’t carry all the costs. Entertaining at home is usually a lot cheaper than going to restaurants or entertainment venues. Ask friends and family to all contribute their favourite dish towards your feast meal.
  • If your budget is getting really tight during the holiday, be creative when planning activities. You can still have lots of fun without splashing out on activities. Make the most of the gorgeous summer weather and enjoy a picnic outside with friends and family. Movie night at home with popcorn and milkshakes is a great idea and so is a cook-off. Or camp in your garden, braai marshmallows and try to count the stars.
  • Mountain biking is a fun and cost-effective activity to keep the kids entertained on a low budget. Go for walks with the family and dogs. There are beautiful bicycle parks, botanical gardens and nature reserves that you can enjoy without having to spend a fortune and be in a safe environment.  
  • The mad rush of inflated prices is over after X-mas and there are massive sales. If you plan properly for the year ahead and stick to your budget, you can pick up great savings the week after X-mas. Be financially savvy though and don’t buy things you don’t need.

Unfortunately, bad things do still happen and death claims lives during the festive season. Ensure that your life insurance, funeral cover and will are up to date at all times to avoid leaving chaos behind. Crime, house robbery and motor accidents increase significantly during the December holidays. Ensure your household content and motor vehicle insurance plans are up to date. Make sure that your house alarm, electric fencing and other security measures are in working condition before you go on holiday. Check that your vehicle is in a good condition and that your vehicle’s licence and your personal driver’s licence are valid. You don’t want to run the risk that the insurance is not paying out if something happens because the pre-set conditions were not met. If you are traveling aboard over the holiday period, check that you have travel insurance in place and that your needs are covered.

Always remember your health is your wealth. Take time out to relax and recover after a busy 2019.  December holidays is a time to over-indulge and being out of routine. Enjoy yourself, but take care of your body: make time for some exercising, try to still eat healthy, keep portion control in mind, drink plenty of water in the heat and don’t consume too much alcohol.

You have worked hard for your money and to create a financially fit lifestyle therefore, you can afford to spoil yourself from time to time, but still be financially savvy. Wishing you a blessed holiday and a prosperous New Year!    

For more financial tips, you can order Ronel’s award-winning book, Financially Fit and Wealthy, on the website

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