FNB Credit Card CEO Chris Labuschagne says consumers racked up a total of R6,7 billion on their credit cards over the December festive season last year, a whopping 22% more than they spent during the rest of the year.

Because it’s the time of year that people tend to let their hair down, spending on entertainment – which includes eating out and buying alcohol, tickets for the theatre and sporting events – rose 52% from R447 million to R681 million.

Spending on luxury goods such as toys, clothing, electronics and jewellery increased from R241 million to R365 million in December.

The third biggest thing consumers tend to spend money on are items for their homes. This includes goods such as furniture, hardware and garden-related items, which rose to R404 million from R281,2 million as consumers capitalise on the break to make home improvements.

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“We looked at our entire database and took into account the average spend from January to November last year and the relative increase seen in December 2015 to give an indication of how much more customers may expect to spend over this festive season,” Labuschagne said.

According to FNB’s credit card data, the average consumer spent R6 650 on their credit card during the year, with spending increasing to R8 100 in December last year.

“Our customers spent on average R350 per month on items for their homes during the year and this went up to R485 in December 2015,” he said.

Spending on petrol also increases around this time of year – despite the fact that most people take time off from work, families tend to travel to holiday destinations by car – with petrol costs rising by 12%.

Health and beauty sales, and grocery bills increased by 42% and 40% respectively to R225,7 billion and R1,2 billion.

The only category to see a significant decrease was flights, which declined by a quarter to R220 million compared to R292 million spent during the rest of the year.

READ MORE: Five great ways to save money this festive season

While consumers should spend within their means, here are a few tips from Bruce Fleming, the Financial Planning Institute’s 2016 financial planner of the year, to help you control your spending this festive season:

  • Compare prices and settle only for the best price, ignoring brand names.
  • Before you do your Christmas shopping decide on a budget and more importantly, stick to it.
  • Make a list of everything you need to buy. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it.
  • If you’re lucky enough to receive a bonus, make sure you save some money for a rainy day and consider putting some money towards your bond or car repayments. The extra cash injection could help you pay off debt sooner.