The Easter break is always a welcome holiday at the beginning of the year, however with many people still cash strapped from the festive season debt, paying school fees as well as rising interest rates starting to take a hold, this mini break needs careful financial planning.
“Most South Africans tend to forget that Easter needs to be budgeted for otherwise it can easily add to mounting debt,” says Eunice Sibiya, Head of Consumer Education at FNB.
In many cases there is travel involved. This year there is not only the long weekend, but a public holiday in the same week, making it a good opportunity to take time off. Children will be at home and many people will be visiting their families. All of these factors mean extra expenses and more pressure on already stretched income.
“There are a few ways to give your budget some financial breathing room this Easter,” suggests Sibiya.
Plan before you party
“In order to stop overspending over this mini holiday, put a plan in place. Overspending unnecessarily often is the result of spontaneous spending,” says Sibiya. “While it may seem that it will dampen the holiday spirit, your pocket and budget will thank you afterwards.”
Part of the plan needs to take into account whether you are travelling or staying at home.
Staying at home
Staying at home doesn’t automatically make your holiday boring or cheaper.
“Family and friends visiting or staying over, outings, entertainment and gifts all add up,” says Sibiya.
If you have friends and family staying over try not to go out, rather entertain at home and get everyone involved.
“Ask your family and friends to cook something that they find special and allocate a meal to each of them,” suggests Sibiya. “If there are grown children, you can get them to make breakfast. This way everyone is involved, having fun and the costs could be shared amongst the adults.”
Looking for exciting ideas? Check out your local newspaper. Most will have lists of free and fun things to entertain children or take the family along.
“You don’t even have to have a special event to go to,” says Sibiya. “You can plan your own outing at a park, pack a picnic basket and spend the day outside. Find a jungle gym for the children and bring foldout chairs for the older folk to sit and play games or reminisce on good old memories.”
“For your travelling plans, there are online calculators that will help you work out your travel costs and also flag any expenses that you haven’t taken into account, such as costs of checking luggage if you flying low cost airlines,” says Sibiya.
Food is always a big cost when travelling by air, sea or land, especially if there is an entire family to feed.
“Try not eat out every time, and if you are travelling from one point to another, by plane, car or bus, there is no reason why you can’t have packed food for the journey,” suggest Sibiya.
Hopefully you have already booked and paid for your travels, but if you are looking at a last minute holiday it is time to take full advantage of any rewards you may have.
“Many service providers, including banks or insurance providers, will offer value adds in terms of travel or rewards,” says Sibiya. “This is the time to cash in and pay for petrol, flights, car rental or accommodation with rewards such as eBucks.”
Look out for any type of value-add that you may take advantage of which includes roadside assistance, call or data deals from your cellphone provider or anything else that lets you save your cash.
“Finally, be smart around gifts and presents,” says Sibiya. “Get children to make their own cards and don’t go overboard on the chocolate. A few each is more than enough.”