‘Tis the season to be money-wise

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‘Tis the season to be money-wise, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la… 

Your wallet knows the ritual all too well as it bends over backwards every year while you splurge on gifts, a bring-and-braai or ten, holiday fun, accommodation here and a tank of petrol there.

It’s all good; you deserve to spoil yourself and if your wallet could speak it would reassuringly tell you to calm down and enjoy the moment but for the love of bankruptcy to please think about the fact that your next pay cheque is only coming at the end of January.

Be money-wise this holiday

Every year, South Africans spend about 28% more on their credit cards over the December periods; with a swipe swipe here and a swipe swipe there debt piles up and before you know it you polish your car with leftover Christmas trifle and park it somewhere with a big sign saying, “We had a very merry holiday but to have a happy new year this car is for sale.”

Ouch.

If only your wallet could speak and if only your credit card had tiny little hands to keep itself from getting swiped oh-so-very-often.

But your wallet and credit card are in your hands; it’s up to you to keep them alive until your next pay day and it is your responsibility to prevent the inevitable emergency CPR you’ll have to perform on them when everything is red with an accompanying angry minus symbol.

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Here are a few tips to avoid breaking the bank over the December holidays

Reduce, reuse and recycle

We all know recycling is good for the environment but now you need to take it up a notch to make it good for your financial environment. Turn leftover food into new dishes, don’t waste any water or electricity and forget about buying name brands; generic is the way to go to stretch your Rand.

Use your cards (no, not your credit card)

If nature is where you want to be for a vacation or a short getaway, get yourself a Wild Card  and enjoy free entry to South African National Parks EVERY DAY (it eliminates your conservation fee which is a great financial helper if you plan to stay over in these parks). But wait, there is more; it is not only for SANParks, you will also get a discount if you want to go up to Table Mountain, you can enter Cape Nature Reserves, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Msinsi Resorts and Game Reserves and the Big Game Parks of Swaziland FREE.

NMB Pass Things to do in Port Elizabeth

There are also cards you can use to explore South Africa’s cities. Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism launched their NMB Pass last year to provide free access (and discount) to a variety of attractions and activities in and around the Bay and you can choose between a 5-in-1 Pass as well as an Unlimited Itinerary Pass.

Cape Town also has the Cape Town Pass  which gives you fast-track access to the city’s best attractions as well as discounts for restaurants and activities.

Choose your spoils

Do you want a manicure, a pedicure, aromatherapy and a back massage? Rather choose one or two than everything. The same principle applies to other treats too, such as eating out or pimping your car: instead of getting new fancy rims and a sound system, choose one (or just opt for petrol).

Park your car

If you can walk from A to B, then do it! Not only will the environment rejoice as you make your carbon footprint smaller but so will your wallet. Walking, cycling or even – if you have good balance – skateboarding can be a fun way to commute during your holidays.

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Step away from malls and get creative

If you celebrate Christmas with the gift-giving tradition and want to save money you can always step away from a mall and make the gifts and gift cards yourself. You can find multiple DIY projects online, bake cookies or even give a plant from your own garden to a loved one. Next step is to reuse old gift bags and prettify newspaper to wrap up any gifts.

For free? For real?

If a free tour sounds too good to be true, allow the Cape Town and Johannesburg Free Walking Tours to restore your faith in humanity and society and join one of their tours. There are three types of tours in Cape Town and two tours in Johannesburg and these walking tours are given by professional tour guides and run on a tip-only basis.

Go Dutch or have a pot-luck

Hosting holiday festivities and dinners can take a big bite out of your bank account. Instead of supplying a whole family or circle of friends with food and beverages, have a pot-luck, a bring-and-braai or go Dutch when eating out.

Get a Tour Guide in Your Ear

Voicemap brings the guide straight to your ear with a nifty app featuring inexpensive tours all over the world. These audio tours allow you to experience a city, town or attraction from a local’s perspective and voice and you can enjoy GPS audio walks, cycles, drives and even boat rides, any time and any day.

V & A Waterfront Cape Town, Ferris Wheel

There’s it, some penny-pinching tips to keep you on track to stay money-wise over the silly season.

Before you have to face the Grinch who stole Christmas, rather stick to a budget during December and January to make sure you stretch your pay cheque till its last breath. Plan your expenses, set a daily budget and stick to it.

Parts of this article first appeared on Spec-Savers and was written for their blog: Tips to avoid spending it all over the December holidays.

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