For South Africans, the Easter holidays are synonym with family trips over the long weekend and overindulging at the festive lunch. Expenses can quickly add up, but they don’t have to. The last thing you want to worry about on Easter is getting into more debt.

The following tips will help you better manage your finances and save money over the Easter holidays.

Limit your travel budget

Did you know that, according to a 2019 travel study, South Africans spend R7,181 on average per trip? Holidaying in the Easter high season doesn’t come cheap. Factor in this year’s extra stress and costs due to ongoing pandemic concerns, and you get the picture.

Like it or not, drawing a budget ahead of your journey is the only way to avoid impulsive spending and keep those entertainment costs down.

  • If you travel during the festivities this year, have a realistic spending limit in mind for the whole Easter trip, and stick with it.
  • Always look for ways to save money where you can while planning the vacation. For example, pick a closer destination to save on mounting travel costs and book preferably in advance to secure a more affordable lodging option.
  • If you travel by car, pay attention to those unforeseen costs that can escalate quickly on the road, such as speeding fines and vehicle breakdowns. Ensure you have proper short-term vehicle insurance and do a thorough checkup to avoid costly expenses later.
  • When budgeting, divide your holiday expenses into categories: transport, fuel, car rental, flight tickets, accommodation, food, eating out, family activities, shopping and entertainment. Be realistic and ask yourself how much you are willing to spend or can afford in each category without taking on more credit.
  • To make a limited budget work for you, decide in advance where to splurge and where to save on your Easter trip. For example, you may prefer to spend more on a bush break in nature and limit other entertainment options.
  • Adjust your budget accordingly while on holiday. Suppose you’ve already booked plenty of activities for the children; then cut down on souvenirs and shopping. Focus instead on what matters: spending quality family time and building lasting holiday memories.

Low budget? Have a ‘staycation’

Concerns around the Easter break and the recent surge in Covid-19 cases may make you think twice about travel plans. If you are worried or running low on funds, rather cut your planned trip shorter than usual or, better yet, celebrate the Easter weekend at home.

It may benefit both your health and pocket during the pandemic to avoid the regular festive gatherings, markets, and popular events like the Easter egg hunt. Why not organise an exciting Easter egg hunt and free activities for the children at home?

Save on the Easter lunch

A significant expense is the festive meal, especially if you’re a fan of big family gatherings and love entertaining guests. There are simple ways to cut down costs with the festive meals and keep expenses within a set budget without losing the celebration spark:

  • Make your own Easter basket with sweet treats and home-baked goodies.
  • Purchase non-perishables such as Easter decorations in advance by making use of previous Easter sales.
  • Try last-minute shopping for easter eggs and some groceries, as most retailers will look forward to clearing stock.
  • Stay home for the Easter lunch or have a braai instead of spending extra money on a restaurant’s festive menu.

The bottom line? Know how much you can spend

Ideally, estimate how much you can spend on holidays by knowing what you can afford at any given time. This is known as the debt-to-income ratio, representing all debt commitments versus monthly income. Credit providers use this ratio to assess credit affordability.

To determine your debt-to-income ratio, add up all your fixed monthly expenses – bond or rent, car repayment, school fees etc. and divide the sum by your net monthly income (your salary after tax deductions). Do no include variable and discretionary expenses such as groceries, entertainment, travel etc. in this calculation.

The ratio will give a good indication of your leisure spending abilities on travel, entertainment or luxury items.

If your debt-to-income ratio is dangerously high, there’s no reason to take any more loans to fund that dream holiday or lavish purchase when you’re already drowning in debt.

Your best course of action is to seek debt relief and get professional help before willingly taking another debt commitment on your plate.

EzDebt professional debt advisers can help you reduce your instalments by up to 50% and have enough money for day-to-day expenses. All our debt counsellors are registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR). Get in touch at www.ezdebt.co.za.

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