Avoid the debt trap this holiday season

The summer holidays are all about fun, sun and a great deal of excess. Food, drink, gifts and entertainment – we tend to spend a lot more than we usually plan to.

And we often do so without thinking about it. Come the middle of January many of us land hard on the hard rock of reality – where bank balances are low and we wait impatiently for our next pay cheque.

Amidst all the festivity of the festivity of this holiday, it would serve us well to remember that times are tough for the average person and in many households, debt is on the rise.

In general, South Africans are not good at saving and the summer holidays usually lead to many getting further into debt by overspending.

There are simple ways we can employ to avoid the debt trap this holiday. All it requires is a bit of common sense, reticence and savvy.


Here are a few tips to help me get through the holidays moneywise and less in debt:

  1. Most important is to look after your own finances first. Most of us get paid earlier in December. Some of us also receive bonuses at the same time. The trick is to plan and not leave the extra cash in your bank account where you’re not tempted spend it. Use the extra cash to pay off your debt or move it to another account that you don’t often access for everyday expenses.
  2. Everywhere you look, there’s a discount or deal that you “just can’t miss up on”. And all the flittering tinsel in the windows hypnotise us into wanting to spend more than we should. I find writing up a list and heading to the shops as late as possible helps me to target only the stores on my list and do so quickly – before the stores close.
    I also avoid shopping malls if I want to socialise – not only do I avoid manic shoppers, I stay a safe distance from alluring shop windows.
  3. Even when I’m socialising, I stick to paying cash or with my debit card. I only use my credit card if it’s absolutely necessary.
  4. Stores that offer payment terms are very enticing. Circumspection is paramount. Try to pay cash upfront as interest on what you buy on credit can amount to more than double over the payment period.
  5. The key is remembering to be sensible. Having fun doesn’t mean you must spend money.

Happy holidays everyone! May it be filled with loads of fun, laughter and a healthy bank balance come the middle of January.

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