This is the time to unwind. The sun is out, and your loved ones are near. Everyone is festive and cheerful, and you want nothing more than to take part in the fun.

But, according to Andile Jonas, head of marketing at Momentum Financial Planning, this is also the time where your purse is pulled in all directions.

“Children plead for over-flowing Christmas stockings, and adults want fabulous meals and outings during the festive season,” says Jonas.

Research at Momentum shows that 40% of South African consumers who have been granted credit are currently in arears, having missed 3 or more consecutive payments.

“This puts almost half of us in a financially vulnerable position,” says Jonas.

Being prepared for the festive season is incredibly important. Make sure you save as much money as you can so that you don’t land up in debt.

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But you may have already run over your budget this year and you be thinking to yourself, “never again!”. Jonas recommends the following for next year:  

1. Write down your expenses

Besides your usual monthly expenses, also include those that tend to creep up when you least expect them. For example, birthday gifts, car services, and maintenance around the house – even having a small savings account for petrol increases can be handy.

This list will make it easier to remember why you are setting aside money each month and it will connect to your end goal of financial freedom.

Whether you want to make sure you are can pay your children’s school fees by January, or you want to go on a luxury holiday, the above list – and even the act of physically writing these priorities down on paper – can help keep you focused.

2. Shop throughout the year

Try shopping for birthday and Christmas gifts throughout the year, especially if you spot something that you know your loved one will be crazy about.

If shopping throughout the year appeals to you, then keep gifts stashed away in the back of your cupboard and update a list of who you still need to shop for. The fun part is that you get to shop at your own pace, without the pressure of piled up expenses in December.

3. Save by postponing Christmas

One idea is to put off exchanging Christmas gifts until the post-Christmas sales start. If your family is older, then this could work in everyone’s favour as there are great bargains out there after 26 December. And everybody loves a good bargain.