Terri Marshall says, “a holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” And I couldn’t agree more. Holidays are times to unwind, relax and share fun moments with family and friends. They are times for the body, mind and soul to take a break and reset.
Especially after a very long year filled with ups and downs, it’s very rewarding to just be easy, enjoy some time off the busy schedule and concentrate on spending time with the people who really matter and are close to our hearts.
The festive season is a few months away. Maybe you have a plan of how you’ll be spending your holiday, maybe you don’t. Holidays can be very stressful especially when you’re short on time and they are fast approaching.
The good news is that it is not too late to plan your holiday and create some memorable moments with your loved ones. This is bearing in mind that holiday could mean different things to different people. It might be a week or weekend at the Coast, road trips with family and friends or goat-eating upcountry.
The festive season also is often packed with family obligations that you just have to be part of; weddings, ruracio, get-togethers or fundraisings for charitable initiatives.
Anticipating your holidays doesn’t have to be that stressful because you can actually prepare yourself early financially then sit back, relax and enjoy as you await for that much desired time off work.
Apart from what festive connotes, holidays are not just good because of the fun moments, travels, or celebrations. Holidays bring with them very important health benefits as well.
Dr Kathryn Isham, Co-Founder of the Vayda Mental Health Collaborative and licensed clinical psychologist, lists the following health benefits associated with taking a break from work and going for a vacation or just having a holiday.
With this in mind, we can agree that taking a break from the breakneck speed of work life is of utmost importance in our quest for growth. To make this a reality this festive season, and indeed at any other time of the year, here are tips that can help.
Creating a budget is very important if you’re aiming at saving up some cash for your perfect holiday plan. A budget keeps you in check and helps you know your financial limits and opportunities.
If you have a budget plan for your holiday, it will help to keep you focused on your financial goal and prevent unnecessary usage and wastage of money. In that way, you will end up saving as much as possible.
Having a budget also gives you control over your money. It enables you to be the boss over your finances. To make it even easier for you, you can break your budget down into smaller meaningful brackets and assign a specific amount to each bracket.
This may be; travel expenses, holiday food expenses, gifts expenses, and even home décor expenses if you may be hosting events.
While arguably, gift giving is not the commonest practice in Kenya, we still reserve it for significant personal and religious events.
And maybe it’s with good reason. Choosing the perfect gift for someone can be tricky - but what is not in doubt is that receiving a gift is always a pleasurable experience. You’d then want to take some time to figure out what gift best fits who.
Shopping early for gifts could be the best way to help you pick out the very best gifts for those you love. What’s more? If you buy the gifts before the last minute rush, you are most likely going to bag good discounts and save some money.
This also applies to booking a holiday getaway where instead of booking two weeks ahead, you could have your space secured two months in advance and claim your discount.
Some of the benefits of shopping early are; subsidised prices, you are saved from panic buying which most times leads to bad decisions and you will most certainly get what you want or what you’re looking for.
Another tip that can be of great help when buying gifts is asking your family or friends what they would like to be gifted.
As you make your gift purchases be sure to deduct them from your holiday budget as that can help you in tracking how much has been used and how much is left.
If you want to save money effectively, you can also cut down on extra and unnecessary expenses. For example, instead of buying lunch at work, you can carry your own packed lunch to the office instead.
You can also reduce going out on weekends and look for creative and fun ways that you can stay indoors. The money that would have been used on such extra expenses can then be added to your holiday savings.
You can set up a money savings challenge either alone or with your family and commit to it. A money savings challenge reminds you to save and also keeps you focused on doing what's necessary in order to achieve your financial goal.
What happens with a money saving challenge is, you set an amount of money that you’re willing to save either daily, weekly or monthly according to your preferences and capability.
Whether you’re doing the challenge alone or with your family or friends, you can set rules which will help to keep you true and loyal to the challenge.
A good example of such a challenge is the 52-weeks saving challenge which has been largely embraced by Kenyans. The challenge spans 52 weeks in a year from January through to December.
On week 1 of the year, you save a minimum of Ksh50, on week 2 you save Ksh100, on week 3 you save Ksh150 and so on until week 52 where you save Ksh2,600.
You basically keep topping up Ksh50 to the previous week’s savings amount till the end of the year. If you successfully follow the challenge you will end up with Ksh68,900 at the end of the year. Sounds good, right?
If you book your holiday with one of the affordable travel companies, that alone could afford you about a 5-day holiday for two at the Coast in a 4-star hotel.
That is just one of the many savings challenges that you can try. Yours can be a 12-week challenge, a 26-week challenge etc. The goal is to save up as much as possible for your holiday plan.
Yes indeed, you heard that right. You realise that holidays do come to an end right? So it’s not a time to spend irresponsibly forgetting that life has to continue after the holiday season.
Remember the budget you set aside for your holiday getaway? If you’re diligent enough, you can spend the money wisely and still have some left from your holiday savings so that you do not find yourself stranded during the 60 days of ‘Njaanuary’ with pending bills and school fees to pay if you’re a parent.
It’s not too late to start saving up for your holidays if you haven’t started already. And yes, you deserve a blissful time off work after all that hard work - which means the associated expenses need not come as a surprise.
As such, creating a savings plan specifically for the holidays is necessary, first to ensure that you actually have some fun and second, to ensure that this does not negatively affect your existing financial goals that are most likely dependent on your savings.
Whichever route you take to saving money for the holidays, ensure your festive season is less financially stressful and more fun.
Now, go ahead and create those memories on your holiday!