With careful planning, it will be easier to stretch your money through the festive season.

Like so many other aspects of life, the excitement and joy of the imminent festive season has been somewhat ruined by Covid-19.

Some people have lost their jobs while others had their incomes cut, which put pressure on their household budgets.

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With the possibility of a fourth Covid-19 wave there is no telling what the future holds, which is why it is important to plan out your finances ahead of time.

With careful planning, it will be easier to stretch your money through the festive season.

“We can’t pretend conditions are easy, but by focusing on what’s really important to you, and budgeting diligently, it’s possible to stretch your money further and make this a memorable time for the special people in your life,” said Shafeeka Anthony, the marketing manager at JustMoney.

She offers ten practical tips to help families enjoy the festive season, and spread some cheer.

Plan early

Identify your most important obligations, and check how much you can realistically afford to spend over the holidays. While you may feel like splurging, food and electricity hikes are anticipated next year, and school fees and uniform bills will be due in January. Be frugal and allocate your money carefully.

Re-evaluate your social obligations

Many people feel obliged to give presents, and in turn, receive gifts that they don’t really need. Focus on giving where it makes an impact – for example, to young children – and remember that kids do not equate your love with the size of the present.

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Contribute and share

There’s no need to carry the financial burden of expensive meals single-handedly. Share the responsibility with family members, let everyone contribute, and you are less likely to be financially and physically exhausted.

Shop online

Having determined exactly where you’ll allocate your hard-earned cash, compare prices. Check retail print ads and search online for specials and sales. Online shopping will enable you to avoid queues and Covid-19 hotspots, plus you can enjoy the convenience of having your purchases delivered to your door.

Avoid debt

The SA Reserve Bank recently announced its first rate hike in three years, so credit will cost more. It’s easy to reach for your credit card if you don’t have cash to hand. However, this way you not only pay for the item, but also a lot more in interest.

Plan your meals

It is easy to over-cater during the holiday season. If a ‘buy one, get one half price’ deal is genuinely good value for your family, go for it. But if the extra food is likely to go to waste, avoid buying two items. Choosing store brands over well-known branded items also helps you save.

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Donate to a charity

Helping others who are less fortunate than yourself can put your own challenges into perspective. You can also get tax relief on donations to properly registered public benefit organisations. Request a Section 18A certificate from the charity and upload this when doing your eFiling.

Ensure you donate to a reputable charity by checking its legitimacy.

Settle a credit account

If you are fortunate enough to receive a year-end bonus, or you have accumulated savings, consider paying off outstanding debt. In order to understand how much you owe, and the amount needed to make a settlement, contact your creditors, and find out the totals of your outstanding balances. This will enable you to make a wise decision about which debt to settle first.

Ensure possessions

If you are able to get away for a holiday, check that your house contents are insured. Nothing is more likely to dampen your holiday spirits than to find your home has become a crime scene.

Check your credit score

Many people don’t understand what a credit score is, but it plays a big role in your financial future. An institution, such as a bank, checks the score and accompanying report in detail before you are given any kind of loan or credit.

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In turn, it contributes to the interest rate you will be charged. Year-end is an excellent time to check your credit score, and this need not cost you a cent.

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