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Coping with Easter costs

The Easter weekend is almost upon us, bringing with it long family lunches and short holiday getaways. It also means spending quite a bit of extra cash. Here is some advice.

Create a budget

Lizl Budhram, head of advice at Old Mutual Personal Finance, advises that even at this late stage you should create a budget for Easter, and stick to it.

If you find that difficult, signing up to Old Mutual’s budgeting tool 22Seven can help you keep track of it all.

“You can access the app on your phone, and it will tell you that you are going over your budget,” Budhram says.

If you borrow money to go away, make sure you understand the financial ramifications of this decision.

“How does that fit into your budget?” says Budhram. “There may be immediate gratification, but, over the long term, there is more stress on you and your budget.

“Remember, there’s a new school term coming up, which brings additional expenses. Decide if it’s worth your while to go away.”

Reduce holiday costs

If you want to go away at the last minute, consider online deals and specials. Go to sites such as Airbnb, which offers homes in every corner of the country and caters for all budgets. Put in how much you want to spend, and your computer or smartphone does the rest.

Don’t book the first thing you see – shop around for the best deal, and even consider group buying websites for discounts and specials that could apply over the Easter weekend.

Try to convince family members and friends to come along with you so you can share the cost of the accommodation.

Obey road rules

While you may be keen to get to your destination as fast as possible, breaking the speed limit can end up costing you.

Des Fenner, general manager of Datsun SA, says keeping to the speed limit will relieve the stress that comes with constantly monitoring fellow road users. It will also help you to avoid spending holiday money on speeding fines.

Fenner adds that, in addition to this, it will reduce fuel consumption and wear and tear on your vehicle – another saving!

Eat at home

Restaurants can be expensive and some may even increase prices over the Easter holiday to boost profits further. While the occasional treat won’t break the bank, if you go out for each meal (unless it’s an all-inclusive holiday), it can all add up and leave you in debt.

Decide how much you want to spend on eating out and, for the rest of the time, eat at home to keep the costs down.

Make your own gifts

Alfred Ramosedi, African Bank group executive for sales and marketing, says: “If you are giving Easter gifts, consider home-made gifts this year.

“Bake cookies, paint eggs, put together a photo album, frame a family photograph or make a themed gift basket full of smaller items.” If you are a bit short on cash and want to earn some more, think about giving the gift of time.

“Create a coupon offering your services – cleaning, babysitting, walking the dog, cooking a dinner or completing household projects,” adds Ramosedi.

Get others to chip in

Easter means a gathering of family and friends, but catering to everyone’s needs can be expensive. “Instead of providing all the snacks to visitors, decide everyone will bring an item to eat or drink,” Ramosedi says.

“For the holiday meal, ask each family member to contribute a dish.”

Use loyalty schemes

For extra cash, see if you can spoil yourself by cashing in on some of your reward schemes.

Marthinus Fourie, managing director of group buying scheme bsmart, says: “During these difficult and uncertain times, the bsmart card has proved to help consumers who manage their budgets enjoy cash-back savings.

“Another advantage is that the cash-back card does not affect savings clients might receive through any of their other store or reward cards.”

He adds: “Feedback from our members indicates that bonus payouts do make a difference.

“The bonuses ease the debt burden and come as a welcome surprise, especially during a festive season.” – Angelique Ruzicka, City Press

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