Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

Every year it's the same story for a lot of people: December comes and you're ready to spend all your money.

It's understandable: it's hot, everyone is in a party mood, you're spending time with family and friends, and it's Christmas.

Not to mention that, a few days later, it'll be new year, and you want to make the best of those days before you're back to the grind.

However, the paydays in December and January can be very far apart.

The best way to make it through those first few days of the new year unscathed is to start preparing now. The sooner you plan, the easier it'll be to get through January.

Vouchers

If you're worried about getting to and from work, you might want to open a savings account now so that you can start putting away a small amount. Nowadays, opening a bank account is fairly simple - it can be done online in five minutes.

Work backwards to figure out how much will be enough for transport.

Of course, the January drought comes with food struggles. Empty fridges and bare cupboards are common around this time.

Buy whatever you can in bulk now: items such as basic household cleaning goods and dry foods with a long shelf life, such as rice, pasta and tinned foods.

To cater for perishables, start buying store vouchers now to use at a later stage. Vouchers are good because they'll help you store money while limiting the temptation to spend it on anything other than what you set out to use them for.

If you know, more or less, how much you spend on accounts, you can start setting aside money so you'll be able to pay them in advance in December.

No spending spree

If you are fortunate enough to receive a 13th cheque or bonus in December, plan now for the costs you know are on the horizon, and take care of those before you go on a spending spree.

Can you pay for extra lessons and school fees up front? What about your car, rent or bond?

Try to eliminate as many of these sorts of fixed costs so that you can avoid having debits going off your account when there's no money.

Parents in particular have a lot to think about at the beginning of the year. It's back to school, and that means buying uniforms and a lot of stationery, and making provision for school fees.

School fees

But you can ease the pressure by buying certain things such as socks and shorts before the end of the year. As with food, you can also start buying vouchers to use at a later stage. Keep an eye out for coupon specials if you have a big family and are in a position to exploit two-for-one specials.

You should also think about making provision for school fees now, particularly if you have to pay yearly levies upfront.

Those are extra costs that will put more strain on your budget.

Again, having a designated savings account to start planning now for those extra costs will make the beginning of next year a lot smoother.

It might seem too early to start thinking about 2018, but it's better to be adequately prepared and organised now than to have to scramble and turn to payday loans at the beginning of the year.

Tsamela is the founder of piggiebanker.co.za. Follow her on Twitter @DineoTsamela

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