Tis the season to be jolly! Or tis the season to be broke? It is rather apparent that this time of the year comes to dig deep into the trenches of our pockets as if pulling out all the life that has been spared and put in the reserve tank throughout the year. It comes with fire and force and before we know it, 11 months of saving have been squandered in a few days, and this all in the name of the Festive Christmas cheer. The question needs to be raised, are we being played?
Noeleen Thahane, originally from Kimberley but now a financial advisor in Johannesburg, is a strong supporter of sound, smart financial planning and spending. With this spend-crazy season upon us, she sheds some light on how to go about making it through this festive season with enough money to get you through the dreaded January as well.
From a professional finance perspective, can you shed some light on how you think sales gurus have managed to get us going ‘gaga’ during the festive season:
The first thing to know is that nothing is nothing and that everything is psychology. There are more sale signs, more marked down goods and an increase in advertising from businesses. The link between advertising and people buying is why Coca-Cola still advertises today. The trick is also to make everything urgent: “limited stock, while stocks lasts” etc.
Colours are also used to attract people to buy. Red, pink and yellow being the most popular colours. It’s all psychology.
The kind of music that is played is another means of influencing customers to increase their spending. The longer you stay in a shop, the more likely you are to buy what you didn’t even go there for in the first place. The type of music played influences your purchasing decisions without you even knowing.
What are your five best tips for surviving this festive season financially?
- Have a budget.
- Plan your spending in amounts, goods and days
- Use only what is allocated in your budget
- Once you’re done buying, stop going to the shops.
- Have your January budget sorted.
How can we ensure that we are still financially stable come January 2019?
Buy what you need for January before spending on festivities and make sure that everything for January is sorted. Remember that December is a lifestyle spending spree and not necessity spending. If you do this, when your income for January comes in, it will be easier to spend it normally and going forward as well. Your January income should not be used to pay for December’s lifestyle when December is a distant memory.
What would you say are the most common but worst habits of December spenders?
Loans! And increased travelling to shopping centres. People go and buy without a plan. They have no as to how much they are willing to spend on Kids clothing, on alcohol, on food. They go to the shop and decide what they need once they get there. Poor decision making results in the shops cashing in big time.
At the end of the day it comes down to this simple reality – if people don’t have a budget, they should skip December.
Being jolly and having a good time in December does not have to be expensive. Maybe it’s time we take a step back and think about what we are really celebrating during this festive season. An honest re-focus coupled with self- discipline could leave us happier and healthier in the New Year.