Budget your festive season spending

It is December, the last month on the calendar which culminates into Christmas Day on December 25th when Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour.

The festive season reaches the climax on January 1 with the celebration of the dawn of a New Year.

While Christmas Day and New Year’s Day offers people an opportunity to reflect on their faith, personal and organisational growth plans, shopping, feasting and sharing of gifts dominate. There is excess spending by consumers during this period.

Nothing wrong with shopping or merrymaking, I must say. What is critical, though, is that in whatever way to spend your money you should avoid falling into the trap of impulse-buying.

Every time you go shopping, always ensure that you buy only what you really need. Discipline should be your motivation. You should learn to mind your shopping basket or trolley and respect your shopping list. Filled baskets of other shoppers are none of your business.

During the festive season, crime and traffic accidents tend to be on the rise as well. It is important to prioritise safety be it in our homes, on the roads, places of work or business. Yes, the festive season is a happy occasion but avoid excessive celebrations that may leave you with regrets forever.

To road users—motorists, cyclists, passengers and pedestrians—road safety starts with you. There are several basics to ensure safety, including ensuring good condition of vehicle tyres, the braking system, lights and even wiper blades. In short, vehicles should be roadworthy. Remember to buckle up and encourage passengers to wear seat/safety belts where there is one.

Technological advances have brought a craze of instant messaging and social media interactions through WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook and Twitter. This has bred a bad habit of text-and-drive among many drivers. Text-and-drive is risky. When driving, before you pick your phone to respond to that incoming WhatsApp text or call, always remember that no message or call is more important than your life and that of other road users. You can always return the calls at your next stop.

Passengers on public transport should also keep an eye on their drivers. Your safety is entrusted in them so do not let them text while driving or indeed consume alcoholic beverages while driving.

Whenever you want to withdraw money from automated teller machines (ATM), be alert on the environment before inserting your card. Stories abound of people being attacked at such places. Where possible, make it a point to transact at ATMs in busy points and not quiet or deserted places, especially when it is early in the morning or getting dark.

To many of us, the festive season coincides with other equally pressing demands such as farm inputs, school fees, rentals and indeed holiday travel. We should be responsible by planning our expenditure, ensuring that the bills are within means. By all means, avoid living large on borrowed money.

Do not get carried away. Spend wisely, enjoy responsibly this festive season.

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