January should not be a month of financial worry

Earlier this year, one of the local newspapers carried a story accompanied by a picture of mostly women standing in a long queue at a cash loan. As the saying goes, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' and the story that picture told was a painful one.

It is a story of how the majority of us tend to party up a storm, spending a lot of money during the festive season without giving a moment's thought on how we might get through January. So bad is our financial state during the first month of the year that we've renamed the month to Januworry in what appears to be an attempt to excuse our careless ways.

So once again, the festive season is soon upon us and while many might tell you to save for the festive season, and rightfully so, because we need to develop a culture of saving, especially for those critical months.

And January is critical a month. Whether you are a parent with kids with a long list of stationery, an official studying part-time at a university, or just one of those people looking for a fresh start in the new year, how you spend your money in December will affect how you get through January.

Here are some options:

Invest in a unit trust � one of the best ways to save money is by investing in a unit trust. It does not require huge investments and you can start your investment from a little as N$200. In addition, you get interest on your investment over time.

Save that December bonus � many companies reward their employees with a Christmas bonus, but instead of blowing the cash, rather put it away for January.

Avoid the unplanned � while something's are unavoidable, an unplanned trip with the girls to Cape Town will hurt your wallet. So, make a plan of all the things you want to do during the holidays, budget for them and stick to your budget.

Have a Christmas potluck � it's the season to be merry, but always be mindful of where your money is going. One sure way to save money is having Christmas potluck (bring and braai) dinners, where everyone brings something to the table to share.

Target the Christmas specials � the festive season is filled with Christmas specials, but a sure way to ensure you benefit from these specials is to compare prices of shops. Don't get over-excited by the for sale sign when the item could be even cheaper elsewhere.

Pay Cash � paying cash for items is one of the best ways to track your money, because you see it leaving your hands. The idea with paying cash is to set a limit on how much you plan to spend, withdrawing that and only spending that amount.

However you plan to spend your holiday, no matter how much you spend, make sure you don't fall victim to Januworry. Contact your nearest Salman office to find out how you can develop a culture of saving today. While you plan your vacation, remember January.

* Hilaria Graig is the marketing and communications manager at Sanlam.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia