For many of us, the festive season is a time of year when we travel home and spend time with our loved ones. But this often comes with financial obligations. Whether it’s contributing money to fixing the homestead or paying school fees, black tax is a reality for most South Africans.

Caring for our families is one of the main reasons we work as hard as we do, and providing financial assistance when we’re home is the right thing to do. But at the same time, it’s very important not to overdo it and risk own financial security in the process.

The question for many of us is whether we can fulfill our family responsibilities while also meeting our monthly obligations such as a bond or rent, transport costs, savings and insurance premiums, groceries, etc, and still have some extra cash for January, which can be a very expensive month. Many people don’t manage this balance and January turns into Januworry when the bills need to be paid.

Here are some budgeting tips to help get you through the festive season in the black:

Make a budget and stick to it
Before spending a cent on luxuries and non-essentials, it’s essential to pay all your regular monthly expenses. No exceptions. Next, allocate some funds towards the family expenses, entertainment and gifts. If you haven’t saved up for this, you can use some of your year-end bonus (if you get one) or stokvel savings. Don’t spend beyond your means. Using store accounts and credit cards to finance festive season entertainment will leave you bloated with debt and can jeopardise any financial aspirations you may have for 2019.
Be honest with yourself and your loved ones
Don’t be tempted into the trap of faking success to impress family members and old neighbours you may not even like, with money you don’t have. Instead, communicate openly with your family members and make it clear that your budget is limited. Specify how much you have available to help. This will ensure that you stay out of debt and never have to avoid calls from friends and relatives demanding their January parcel.
Keep sight of long-term goals
Don’t forget to allocate a certain portion towards your savings. Saving towards your long-term goal is important, don’t lose sight of that. Make sure you stick to your commitment towards reaching this goal, whatever it may be.
But don’t forget to unwind and have fun

Although it’s important to be responsible during the festive season, it’s also important to unwind and recharge your batteries, especially if it’s been a demanding year. Set aside some funds so you can spoil yourself a bit, or put them towards your festive season social budget. Remember though that if you get paid early in December, you need to be disciplined so that you can survive until your next pay cheque is deposited at the end of January.