Economists have predicted that many South Africans will experience the worst Christmas this year as there is simply no money. It has been a tough year as a result of Covid-19 which saw significant job losses and salary cuts. While economists predict that take home pay will slowly normalize, there is no certainty of when it will go back to pre-pandemic levels.

Andre Wentzel, Solutions Manager at Sanlam, notes that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of emergency savings. “Usually when an economy is depressed, it tends to affect people in lower income groups more as they are more likely to lose their income. The pandemic and the impact of it has forced people to prioritise what they do with their finances based on what is most important to them.”

“This year has also made many of the risks we inherently face more tangible. Often, we find it hard to imagine bad things that might happen and delay getting our affairs in order when it comes to things like insurance or wills,” explains Wentzel.

Below, Wentzel highlights important factors to consider when budgeting to ensure a frugal festive period.

Prepare for a different festive season

Recognise that this festive season will be different to others, not just financially, but also socially, and emotionally. We need to be aware of this and, to avoid “Janu-worry”, be careful not to act irresponsibly when it comes to our spending during the festive period.


Budgeting is very important as it allows us to make conscious choices about things like gifts, family lunches and treating ourselves. It is important to understand the trade-offs when making choices around this – now more than ever, we want to avoid choices that might leave us financially vulnerable in future.


While most people will have more free time during this period and work from home because of the pandemic, it is important to take this time to rest and spend quality time with your loved ones in a responsible way. Why not opt to stay home and do a zoom call instead of going out? With the second wave officially here, we need to be extra cautious not to give in to lockdown fatigue.

Modernise old traditions

It may help many people to follow their usual traditions at this time of year as it allows them to mentally close off the year and prepare for the new year. Try to follow old traditions but also look for novel ways to do things, or even start new traditions.

Wentzel explains that parents and students, face an uncertain start to the 2021 academic year and need to be more diligent about preparing for the next year financially. It would be best to budget for school fees, stationary and any other adhoc necessities in December, advises Wentzel.

“With the end of the tax year looming in February, make provision to add to your retirement savings or tax-free savings account. Every little bit counts in the long run and your future self will thank you for it,” concludes Wentzel.

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