You’ve made it, Mzansi. Payday is here and the first month of 2022 is almost gone. Things are just beginning to feel like normal again. You’re no longer creating food magic with leftovers and it’s time to start buying healthy groceries again.
Health For Mzansi reader Kagiso Mafatshe is glad the silly season is over. He doesn’t get why people typically overspend in December because, to him at least, it’s just another month and no excuse for splurging. Mafatshe (35) lives in Northriding in Johannesburg.
“The difference is that [December] is the one opportunity to take leave, so if there’s anything special that will happen, I should know about it during the year then I’ll save accordingly,” he says.
“My spending habits during December are just above the yearly average due to the number of functions that take place during the time. I pay my debts as soon as I receive my salary and save my money by buying shares. I can get the money back in a week tops and I also get better returns.”
How are ‘overspenders’ recovering?
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t as money wise as Mafatshe. Kelebogile Shupinyaneng (41) from Bloemfontein admits that, typically, she goes overboard with her spending in December. That is why she believes it’s important to save money during the preceding months.
“The children are home, so I spend extra on food. Even if I leave them at my parent’s place I got to help a little. I am in sales and January is generally tough for any business. My advice would be that if you’re like me and have already overspend, brace yourself for a long tough month and don’t take loans. They’ll just make the rest of the year worse.”
Hazel Mofolo (29), also from Northriding in Johannesburg, agrees. She saves and budgets more during December than any other month.
The 38-year-old Orapeleng Seate from Bloemfontein adds that saving, in general, is most important, no matter the month of the year. “My fear for the New Year is that if the pandemic isn’t over by March or April, government will have to hike interest [rates] in one way or the other, in turn worsening the already grim reality we are living in.”
How to keep the money fears at bay
To get financially ready for the rest of 2022 you need to stay ready, advises Donnovan Appalsamy, a financial advisor from Midrand, Gauteng.
You also don’t really need to be spending all of that money in December, he adds.
“The causes are wanting to treat their immediate or extended family to a good celebration. I would also say that it may even be social pressure to celebrate the festive season to a certain level or standard.”
It’s important to prepare your budget for January and the months ahead.
“Most people receive a bonus or 13th cheque and should apportion the budget for the January out-of-ordinary expenses such as school supplies, then apportion the budget for Christmas gifts and food and lastly apportion budget for New Years’ celebration. These must be set aside in a separate bank account, so that it cannot be unintentionally spent,” he says.
To manage money stress, Appalsamy advises that you budget month to month instead.
“My advice would be for individuals or families to start saving from January every year to provide for additional funds that may be needed for December, the same year and January for the following year.
“I would recommend a tax-free savings account that is not linked to, or accessible by, any of your bank accounts and where a debit order is taken out monthly. You can start from as little as R150 per month and it’s important to consult a financial advisor first before deciding upon this plan.”