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How to plan for Christmas early and cut costs

By Jessica Anne Wood

Christmas is just over a month away. With only a few weeks to go until the festive season is upon us, Justmoney takes a look at how you can start planning early to avoid the last minute shopping frenzy, and cut costs too.

Bruce Fleming, certified financial planner (CFP) and 2016 Financial Planning Institute’s (FPI) Financial Planner of the Year, says that the earlier you start planning for Christmas, the better you will be both financially and emotionally.

Make a list and stick to it

In the lead up to Christmas, Fleming points out that you can adopt the follow steps to help cut costs and save you time:

  1. List the people you will be buying gifts for.
  2. Budget what you want to spend on each person and stick to that budget.
  3. Get an idea on the type of present you want to get and for whom.
  4. Buy gifts in advance. This will spread the cost and will prevent the panic buying around Christmas where you will inevitably spend more as not only are the prices higher, but you always spend more when you are emotional or feeling guilty. (Keep this in mind for next year, as there are sales on throughout the year and you might find that perfect gift for someone in March at just the right price.)
  5. Look for sales and match the items on sales to the people you are buying for.

A similar process can be applied to planning for Christmas day, from what you will eat, to other items you may need on the day. Fleming advises doing the following:

  1. Plan now what you are going to eat on Christmas day.
  2. Start buying your non-perishables, drinks (including alcoholic drinks) now.
  3. If you have purchased your non-perishables by the end of November, buy your turkey and other meats then because you can always freeze them.

When it comes to food and drinks, keep an eye out for specials and deals that stores may be running in the lead up to the festive season.

Alfred Ramosedi, African Bank group executive of sales and marketing, stresses the importance of planning for rising food prices. “Many experts are predicting above average rainfall from November to January, but even if the current drought ends, food prices will continue to rise, particularly for red meat. Food price inflation will hit a peak at the end of this year, at around 12%, according to experts. When the drought hit last year, farmers and livestock owners had to offload some of their cattle at lower than usual prices, meaning there was an excess of meat. This is why we haven’t seen a huge increase in meat prices as of yet. However, if the drought ends, farmers will need to rebuild their herds – causing them to sell less animals for slaughter, which will reduce the supply and drive prices up.”

“By following these simple steps you can save hundreds of Rand and avoid the stress of Christmas Shopping. Most importantly, talking to a CFP professional regularly will ensure that your finances are organised year round and will help you avoid the Christmas crunch,” says Fleming.

Plan for post-Christmas expenses

Many companies pay employees earlier in December. While it is important to plan early for the festive season, you must also take into account post-Christmas expenses. Ramosedi notes that being paid early in December can mean January is a long and tough month for many people.

“Some consumers resort to using their credit cards with reckless abandon or choose to take out loans. While loans and credit cards can be helpful and credit cards can even offer you some worthwhile benefits and rewards over the festive season, it is vital to stay conscious of what you are spending. We suggest that you prepare a budget with this in mind in order to avoid overspending in December,” says Ramosedi.

“The good news is there are still a few weeks left before the end of the year. Now is the time to get smart about your money and plan ahead so you can enjoy your hard-earned cash,” says Ramosedi.

 

 Handy tip: Struggling to pay all your debts? Relieve some of your financial stress this festive season by signing up for debt review.

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