As the cheers of “Happy New Year!” fade, you’re not the only one left with an unwelcome visitor: Janu-worry. But you can overcome the longest month of the year with some strategic steps.
Thanks to the dreaded combo of post-festive platsak and back-to-school expenses, on top of the usual bills, it’s easy to feel flatter than a fizzled-out firework in January. The good news is that dealing with this financial stress is possible – but it requires a strategic approach combining immediate action and long-term planning.
Here’s how you can address the holiday-spending hangover, and avoid opening your door to it next time.
- Focus on positive action.
Beating yourself up about the financial fallout doesn’t solve your problem. Practise self-compassion – financial setbacks happen to us all. So, before diving into the bills, breathe, take stock, and remind yourself that you have the power to make positive changes.
- Stretch available funds.
Look for practical ways to extend your available funds. For example, instead of ready-made meals or takeaways, cook at home with affordable ingredients, and explore free or low-cost entertainment for the family, like outdoor activities or community events. Small adjustments in daily spending make a significant difference. Consider an app like Spendee to help you track your spending and stick to your budget.
Tip! Look at the little amounts. For example, it’s not “just one coffee-to-go”, it’s R30-R40 you didn’t need to spend. Buy it daily and you’re looking at R210-R280 a week, or around a thousand rand per month.
- Clear debt quickly.
Tackling debt head-on is crucial for financial recovery, so pay off as much as you can now. Prioritise high-interest debts, consider creating a debt repayment plan, and find out what debt-relief assistance your bank offers.
- Call in expert help.
Overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? It could be time for debt counselling. Debt counsellors assist with creditor negotiation, debt consolidation and creating repayment plans. There is a fee, but it’s worth it if they can get you back to financial freedom. Check the National Credit Regulator website to find registered debt counsellors.
- Prevent 2024 Janu-worry NOW.
To avoid falling into this trap again, start planning NOW. While 2023 is fresh in your mind, list your festive season expenses, including gifts, food, travel and entertainment. Now that you know which situations led to overspending, you can be proactive in avoiding them. If you bought things you didn’t need in the Christmas sales, rather spend the day having a picnic.
To help distribute the financial load, set up a dedicated savings account for 2024’s festive season expenses and transfer a manageable amount each month. Come December, you’ll be giving yourself the best gift of all; a future free of Janu-worries.