Stick to your budget to avoid a stressful ‘Januworry’

As hard as it might seem over the festive season, having a savings plan is the most important step to beating the January blues.

‘Tis the season for Christmas specials, longer retail hours and an irresistible bonus to splurge on food and gifts for friends and family.

The festivities and holiday excitement often cloud our judgement on how to save and prepare for the dreaded “Januworry”, which often feels like an eight-week month while counting down to pay-day.

But the best way to curb the spending temptation is to draw up a budget on the essentials you want to buy over the festive season. What is most important, is sticking to the budget as much as possible.

“Do not give in to the temptation of spoiling loved ones over the festive season, especially if it is outside of the budget. It is advisable to do your shopping earlier rather than later, as leaving the shopping to the last minute results in panic or impulse buying and trying to find the ideal present for a loved one,” said Ester Ochse, product specialist at FNB wealth and investments.

How to beat ‘Januworry’

As hard as it might seem, having a savings plan is the most important step to beating the January blues. It is important to decide on what your expenses for the new year are going to be and to plan for them.

“You need to plan, understand and choose what you want to save for. At this stage, your children’s education, uniforms, stationary and additional tuition fees may be your priority,” said Ochse.

This includes putting money aside for monthly expenses such as rent and municipal rates.

“Ensure that these items are listed on your budget which will help in identifying where your money gapes or wastage lie and where you need to put in more. Rent, medical, insurance as well as retirement are important, so don’t skip on these – rather invest and ensure that it is sorted from the onset.”

How to save on medical costs

According to head of health marketing at Momentum Group, Damian McHugh, it is often that policyholders fail to understand their medical aid costs and benefits. While encouraging policyholders to educate themselves on their policies, he advises medical scheme users to find other ways of saving on medical expenses.

“Some doctors are willing to negotiate the rates charged in line with what a patient’s medical aid option covers,” he said. “Using healthcare providers such as doctors and specialists on your medical aid option’s network will ensure the provider charges according to the rates covered on your option.”

To save on medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist to prescribe generic medication instead of original medicine where possible, McHugh explained.

“Be sure to make use of pharmacies on the list of designated service providers within your scheme, as they won’t ask for additional administration or dispensing fees.”

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