Are you stressed about the holiday season and wondering how you will survive it? You are definitely not alone. Most people will feel the pinch. Thanks to the high inflation witnessed this year and the weakening of the Kenyan Shillings against the dollar, prices of goods and services are off the roof. Even if you have met your holiday savings goal, you will likely have to adjust.
To survive the tough holiday season ahead, early preparation is key. It is the only way to prepare for holiday spending, cut out the stress, and enjoy yourself. After all, you've had the whole year to worry about money; you deserve a break.
How you get through this holiday season will decide how financially healthy you start your 2023, which economists predict won't be very rosy. For instance, a recent report by the IMF lists Kenya as one of the 12 African countries projected to experience a decline in their GDP growth.
So, how can you financially survive the festive period? This article will explore five strategies you can adopt to make do with what you have. Read on.
Whether you have saved for the holidays specifically or not, you first need to decide how much you should spend without hurting your bank account. And to do that, you must create a well-thought-out holiday budget and stick to it. Here are some simple steps you can follow to create a holiday budget:
The holiday season is filled with a lot of activities. You probably have to fill out a lot of end-year reports at work or calculate your profits if you are self-employed. You will likely be invited to many parties, and you want to rest every free minute you get. At the end of the day, you will forget to prepare for the holiday.
How do you avoid the last-minute rush? First, you need to shop early. Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers on the 25th and 28th of November to do your holiday shopping. Retailers nationwide will give huge discounts on various products, and you can save a lot of money if you decide to shop for the holidays early.
Second, if you are travelling, book your tickets early. Bus and matatu fares tend to hike at the peak of the holiday. If you want to save money and time, buy a ticket early. Most bus companies will allow you to buy tickets online in advance, even if you are traveling upcountry. And don't forget to buy a return ticket as well.
The holiday season is filled with a lot of consumerism, and it's easy to fall for that if you are not diligent. But a little bit of creativity and self-control can help you not just survive but thrive. Here are some things you should try:
Shop Thrift Stores: Yes, you don't have to buy new items. Many shops have come up in towns that sell quality ex-UK products that you can get for almost half the new price. Visit thrift shops and buy second stuff, from clothes to home appliances. Also, check places like the Facebook marketplace; many people upgrading will be offloading their used items at bargain prices.
Be Creative with your Gifts: You don't have to spend thousands of shillings to buy gifts when you can try homemade gifts or be minimal. Consider Ronald’s experience. When he was cash-strapped last Christmas, he simply made cute bracelets for all his friends and engraved their names on them. One year later, he forgot what he was gifted, but his loved ones still rocked the bracelets.
Consider Post-holiday Spending: If you missed some of the major discounts over the festive season, don't miss out on post-holiday discounts that are typically offered the first week of January. Additionally, this is the best time to shop around for offers if you plan to go on a budget vacation.
Mistakes can happen, and you can end up overspending unknowingly during the holiday season. And when your landlord comes knocking in January, you will have to dig into your savings or take out a short-term loan to pay rent. If you are looking to avoid this, ensure you stay within your budget, and guarantee yourself peace of mind, you should consider paying your bills in advance.
Paying your bills early can encourage good financial habits like paying yourself first and sticking to a budget. These habits can help you stay financially stable during a tough holiday season and every day.
Paying your bills early also leaves you with no room for impulsive and emotional spending since you'd have restricted your budget. Those two are the worst mistakes you can make when surviving a tough holiday season.
A year-end bonus can feel like a windfall, and you might be tempted to splurge it. But when you take a minute to think about it, you can come up with better ways to spend it, and one of them is to put it away for rainy days. You cannot tell how tomorrow will be, but you must be prepared financially.
Back in 2021, Musa, a social media marketer, received an end-year bonus of Ksh70,000, and he decided to use the money to extend his vacation by two weeks. After having the time of his life and travelling back to work, he forgot his Ksh125,000 Macbook laptop on a bus, which was unfortunately stolen. After days of trying to track it, he finally gave up and bought a new one. He had to dig deep into his savings account because he had no emergency funds.
Think about how useful that end-year bonus could have been for Musa if he had used it to build his emergency savings. You'll never know when you will have unexpected expenses; the best you can do is prepare.
The holiday is not a time to spend lavishly, especially not when the economy is unpredictable. But that doesn't mean you should be too frugal to the point of denying you and your family any fun. It's all about finding the perfect balance by creating a realistic budget that helps you stay within your limits. And that starts by building a survival guide that will help you through this tough period.
Consumer loans are the final thing you should try to avoid during the holiday. Debts are expensive and can expose you to bigger financial problems if you don't repay them in time. If you can't afford to buy something, put off that purchase for the future when you have disposable income.
Finally, after the holidays are over, start preparing for the next one. Create a holiday saving account and start putting away money for upcoming holidays. The next holiday will make you more prepared, and you will avoid losses.