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It’s a familiar feeling for many – the summer holidays are over, the family has departed, the decorations have been packed away, and your bank balance is looking a lot less healthy than it usually does.

For many South Africans, responsible finance behavior goes out the window over the festive season. Here are some ways to manage your finances successfully – no matter where you are!

Make a budget

Between travel costs and festive season celebrations, your usual monthly budget is going to look very different come festive season.

If you celebrate Christmas, be smart about gifting. Make a list (and check it twice) of people that you want to buy a gift for – then set a spending limit. Whether it’s an overall spend limit, or a per-person budget, decide upfront and then stick it.

Account for all of the seemingly small extras that pile up along the way – Christmas wrapping, roadside lunches, sundowners, taxis, and holiday dinners with friends and family.

Pack your own food and drinks where you can, choose dinners at home over restaurant meals, and ask your guests to contribute a bottle of wine or a dessert when they visit.

Pay your bills on time

Phone accounts, electricity, insurance, credit card repayments… None of these go away in December (as much as we would like them to!)

Set a reminder on your phone and pay as soon as it pops up. Your bank’s app will allow you to safely and easily pay your bills no matter where you are – be it pool-side, mountain-side, on the beach or in the mall.

Track your spending

It’s easy to swipe your card again and again without realizing how much money you’re actually spending. If you don’t have notifications sent to your phone each time you swipe, now is the time to enable them!

Check your bank balance regularly so that you’re not left with a shock come month-end. Download your bank’s app to have easy access to your bank account, wherever you are.

Pay careful attention to what you spend and where – and keep a close eye on odd transactions, and report them to your bank immediately.

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