You’ve been financially responsible throughout the year, and you might feel the pressure to spend and splurge now that the festive season is coming up, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can be financially savvy throughout the festive season, especially when it comes to present ideas for your loved ones.

Eunice Sibiya, head of Consumer Education at FNB says, “It’s very easy to get carried away around the silly season, especially when it comes to buying presents.

You want to see your loved ones happy, but this doesn’t mean that you have to blow your budget in the process. There are a number of ways to remain financially smart throughout this time of year.”

Plan, plan, plan
Firstly, draw up a budget for the merry season. Sibiya says it can be as simple as writing down who you’re going to buy presents for, and what you will be buying.

She says that by doing it this way, you’ll be visiting the shops with a list and won’t be tempted to buy items that are not on your list.

Sibiya also suggests doing your festive shopping early. There’s no reason why you can’t buy presents throughout the year.

By December you’ll have a stockpile of presents and it will ease the burden on your pocket during the mad rush and help you avoid falling victim to impulsive buying during this period.

“Why not change your end of year spending habits and do your shopping Online this year. You can do it from the comfort of your couch at home, you won’t have to brave the crowds, and you can take your time when choosing presents. It will also be easier to compare prices, however, remember to be cautious when shopping online,” says Sibiya.

Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programmes
Go through all your loyalty programmes and rewards and “cash them in”. For example, with eBucks Rewards FNB customers can also earn up to 15% back in eBucks or airtime, in the case of Smart Transmission account holders, when buying goodies at Checkers and Shoprite when paying with a qualifying card.

Buying for Children
Parents often overspend on children, and it is easy to be swept up in the excitement of the season.

“If you’re buying presents for kids, why not buy presents that two or more kids can enjoy, instead of buying individual presents.

For example, Board games will keep them busy indoors while promoting interaction even with adults, while sporting gear like a bat and ball set will keep them busy outside. It’s good exercise and develops social skills such as sharing,” says Sibiya.

Another good idea for a present is to give your child an “experience” as a present. If you or someone you know has a cool toy, like a hot air balloon or 4X4, then take your kids out on an adventure.

Buying for Adults
“Presents always add up, but there are ways to keep costs down for the adults,” says Sibiya. “Why not try Secret Santa with family or a group of friends? All the adults taking part put their names in a hat. Everyone draws one name and you buy a gift for that person only. The group can decide on a monetary limit for the gift to keep everything fair.”

You could also create a “wish list” from which your loved ones could buy from, either as individuals or a group. This way, you’re assured of getting something you really want.

“Be financially smart when it comes to the festive season presents. You’ll be putting money back in your pocket that you could save or use somewhere else,” concludes Sibiya.

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