The end of the year is notoriously expensive and with festive gifts, entertainment, holidays, and celebrations to pay for, it’s no wonder most South Africans find themselves financially limping through January.

“It’s been a long year, and we all deserve some time off to spoil ourselves and our loved ones. Although this can be costly, if you’re smart about it, having a fantastic festive season won’t have you starting 2019 on a bad financial note,” says Taryn Schmidt, chief marketing officer at Wonga South Africa.

To help you negotiate financial folly this festive season here are a few easily achievable tips to help you keep your finances in check ahead of the holidays.

1. Plan and be a smart gift giver

Generosity is a fantastic quality, but too much can have us forfeiting our own well-being in favour of another’s. When it comes to the giving of gifts, it pays to be smart. Make a list of the people you plan on buying gifts for, then decide on your total budget and how much you can afford to spend on each person. Instead of buying the first expensive thing that catches your eye, put a little thought and effort into the gifts. Do some research and compare prices online to come up with affordable gift ideas and ensure you’re getting the best price.

2. Start your holiday shopping early

The earlier you start looking for presents, the more time you’ll have to shop discerningly. You’ll also spread the cost out over an extra month, which will be an enormous relief to your December finances. Don’t wait until the week before Christmas to buy all your gifts, you’ll miss out on all the best deals and end up spending far more money than you intended to as you scurry to get your shopping done in time.

3. Renegotiate your insurance policies

People often sign up for insurance and then leave their policies in place for years without review. In the meantime, your premiums increase, while the value of some of your possessions are likely to go down. Also, if you want to upgrade or downgrade your medical aid in the new year, changes often have to be made before the end of the year. To save money going into the festive season, review your insurance coverage and do a little research by comparing your policies to at least three different providers. You could find yourself reducing your policies by hundreds of rands each month.

4. Spread the festive responsibility

From going away on holiday to buying gifts and hosting celebrations, there might be opportunities to share the financial burden this summer. Friends and family can contribute to entertainment costs, petrol on road trips, holiday accommodation costs and even club together to buy combined Christmas gifts. As well as alleviating, some of the financial strain this also means you’ll have even more time to spend with the ones you love this holiday.

5. Consolidate unused bank accounts

Do you have savings or investment accounts standing empty, or credit cards you’re trying to avoid using? Close off those old accounts that you’re no longer using, especially if they’re costing you monthly fees. Also, close off credit card accounts you can do without, thereby reducing the temptation to land yourself in fresh debt in the New Year.

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