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By Citizen Reporter


Discounts: Consumers face pressures from all sides to overextend their budget

A psychologist believes the festive season can also provoke anxiety and lead to financial hardship if we give in to the urge to spend.

The end of the year and summer holidays are a celebratory time filled with the temptation to spend money. From Black Friday specials to festive-themed marketing, there are pressures from all sides to overextend your budget that can be difficult to resist.

Psychologist Zipho Mhlongo, who practises at Netcare Akeso Nelspruit, said that although the festive season is a joyous period when people wish to have fun and relax, it can also be anxiety provoking and lead to financial hardship if we give in to the urge to spend.

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“Remember that life continues beyond the festive season, with the usual expenses, and, ideally, we should plan for it to continue comfortably rather than set the scene for the new year with ‘Janu-worry’,” he says.

“Black Friday is a fairly new phenomenon to us in South Africa, and although the idea of ‘discounts’ and ‘savings’ are promoted to create hype and attract customers’ attention – Black Friday is a marketing gimmick used by businesses to maximise profit.

Some people struggle to contain the desire to buy luxuries they cannot afford before meeting their monthly obligations. Mhlongo says an important starting point is understanding the difference between the things you want and the things you need.

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“It is not wise to purchase a luxury vehicle when you cannot afford rent, it is not wise to buy expensive clothing brands when you cannot afford school fees.

“It is important to assess your budget objectively. “As exciting as the festive period may be, it can also be easy for parents to spend beyond their means through wanting to provide the best for their children.

“The impulsivity associated with the holiday period and parents wanting to reward children for their hard work during the school year can threaten the family’s ability to cope financially when the new year starts.

Be careful with your money

“Have discussions to teach children about being careful with money and cultivate sentiment rather than materialism in children from young.

“Protect your children by developing strong boundaries of financial prudence and lead by example so they don’t fall prey to spending beyond their means in future,” he says.

“If you teach your children to value sentimental gifts and gestures rather than material things, you are inculcating richer and more solid values that will serve them well in life.

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“Children should be raised to realise that happiness and fulfilment do not necessarily come through acquiring possessions.

“Life’s greatest meaningful moments of pleasure shouldn’t cost a lot of money, and appreciation of the experience of spending time together is what should matter most.

“Find creative, personal ways to treat each other – a picnic of fruit or sandwiches where you can spend time together having fun and enjoying the beauty of nature can be more memorable than an expensive gift.”

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When buying gifts or booking a holiday, plan ahead and keep an eye out for specials. “Prices are often hiked in the festive season because businesses know people are in the mood to spend money.

“It is wise to plan months ahead and make necessary payments before prices are hiked so that you don’t need to absorb these costs at year-end when there are often other expenses.

“It is also sensible to tell children or other family members you will be spending the festive season with about your efforts to save and plan ahead so that they are involved, and their expectations are also shared.

“This makes it easier to navigate this period with minimal tension.”

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