The silly season is upon us, and alongside relaxing with family and friends, taking a well-deserved break and enjoying the South African summer, this time also almost always means pressure to spend.

It is easy to see why consumers overspend during the December period. It is the perfect time to relax, take a break from work and for many South Africans, having fun means spending money.

There are a few simple tricks which will let you have a good break without succumbing to the pressures of overspending.

Look after yourself first

It is so easy to get carried away over the holiday season, the first and most important step to take is to look after your own finances first.

Many South Africans get paid a bit early in December and some receive their bonuses at this time. Rather than leaving additional cash in your bank account, plan ahead and make good financial decisions as soon as you get your money, so you aren’t tempted to spend it.

Some ideas are to immediately move any additional cash into your bond or a savings account, as you can move it out again in January when the bills are due.

You can also pay down debt, which will immediately help your financial position.

Avoid spending large amounts of time in shopping centers

With all the specials and twinkly lights, it is very easy to be lured into overspending at malls.

If you have to do your festive season shopping; do this alone and have a list, this way you will have less reason to be distracted from your task.

Rather than socialising with friends and family at malls, pick other places, where there is less temptation to spend cash.

Go to the park, spend time at home in your garden or on the beach, if there is one nearby. South Africa usually has great weather over this time, so getting out of the malls will be good for your health and your pocket.

Try a different approach to gifts

Gifts should never be the reason you go into debt. There are great alternatives that don’t have to cost a bomb.

Presents for the children can also be fun and inexpensive, such as collecting glass jars and scrubbing off the labels so they are sparkling clean. Fill these with sweets and tie a ribbon around it.

If your child has his or her eye set on an expensive toy, electronic device or item of clothing, rather than giving in and purchasing it, sit down with them and make a plan that they will work towards in the New Year.

All consumers are under pressure, so telling family and friends that you are cutting back on expensive gifts will give everyone close to you a chance for a financial breather this year.

Consider foregoing gifts entirely for adults this year and doing something that maybe means something a bit more, such as a note about why you appreciate each other, or a promise to spend time quality time together in 2017.

Be sensible

Finally, take the decision to be sensible this festive season.

There is a festive season every single year, and if you realise that having fun doesn’t necessarily mean spending money you don’t have; you will have a much better 2017 financially.

Writer : Eunice Sibiya