The festive season is here. A jolly and favourite time for many. There is nothing not to love about Christmas; from the carols, the time with family and friends, and even gifting.
It is also a good time for busy working parents to spend time with their children by taking them on vacations or upcountry.
What is more, it’s regarded as a season for giving.
Whereas some will place wrapped gifts under Christmas trees, others will treat their entire extended families to goat-eating and random M-Pesa.
A report by World Remit in 2021 showed that Kenyans get generous as can be in December.
On average, they were reported to have been spending 54 per cent of their month’s income on Christmas celebrations with 19 per cent going to food, 22 per cent on decorations, and 58 per cent going to gifts.
However, the spending can easily get out of hand. So, how do you manage to put a smile on your loved ones’ faces without splurging like there is no tomorrow?
Make a budget and stick to it: Budgeting is the most significant financial planning tool. It helps you review and cap your spending while distributing your disposable income.
You may find that you have stuck to a budget throughout the year but it falls into the water during the holiday season.
While it is okay to spend a little more during this time, figure out how much you can afford to spend on Christmas and compare this against your obligations.
Also, figure out the most important expenses first so that you know what is left for casual spending.
Keep track of your expenses: This is the implementation part of your budget. Remember that a budget is a rough estimate of expenditure and may not be the actual amount that you spend.
Hence, keeping receipts of all expenses helps you to know the exact cash you have spent.
For example, if you had set aside Sh3,000 for a Christmas gift but you only spend Sh2,000, you can either save the Sh1,000 or shop for something else that is slightly more expensive than you had budgeted for.
This way, you can binge a little more without breaking the bank.
Write a shopping plan: Ever walked into a supermarket to buy an essential item but ended up buying five items that you didn’t need and even forgot the one item that brought you there?
That is why you need a shopping list.
Listing the items helps you plan your expenses, prioritise and take care of the most pressing needs first.
Shop at the right time: Knowing when to buy what allows you to budget more efficiently. It helps you prepare your plan well in advance.
While some items may be on discount around this season, others such as food items may hit their record high a few days before Christmas day.
Hence, look at past patterns to determine the optimum time to spend without exceeding your budget.
Be on the lookout for deals and discounts but only for the items that you planned on buying. Do not be lured into impulse buying by the flashing lights and ringing bells.
As joyous as the Christmas season is, be mindful of the days after –January to be specific.
Before you go all out in your spending, pause and consider if there is a way you could be smarter with your cash.
→Mr Mzenge is the manager, Enwealth Capital Limited.