A mother’s guide to planning December/January expenses



Financial demands during the months of December and January can be overwhelming. Not only are parents under pressure to make Christmas as festive as possible with a holiday filled with fun, hearty meals and the Christmas presents their children have been wanting all year, but they also have to budget for the return. -school, with new uniforms, stationery and school registration.

A financially savvy mom, a veteran news dog at the Citizen, she’s got New Year’s planning down to a science. Narissa Subramoney shared her organization tips with the masses to help them live their best lives in the most financially responsible way possible.

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Rule no. 1: Start as early as possible: prioritize school

“As a parent, I start my financial planning for December as early as July,” he says. Narissa prioritizes her daughter’s school expenses over the demands of Christmas and travel.

“School uniforms are available online all year round, so I usually do uniform replenishment (such as replacing worn/lost items) starting in August and even July.”

She advised that summer uniforms are cheaper in the winter and encourages parents to buy them and keep them until next year. “I will buy a few items each month until October. Once the school sends out the stationery and textbook orders, I also buy and bank them in October. That way, by the end of October, the school shopping is out of the way and I just have to concentrate on school fees. We also pay the fees and transport for January once the December salary has been collected,” he said.

“We also put the January budget that will take us until the 25th. We forget about it for the rest of December,” he said.

After taking care of these things, Narissa focuses on the Christmas festivities.

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Rule no. 2: Make a list of gift recipients – space out those purchases

One of Narissa’s family traditions, like most families around the world, is to visit her extended family members who live far away. Along with this visit, there is the extension of a gift. “I make a list of the people I’m going to see. Then I start buying this in August. That way, the gift buying is staggered and doesn’t eat into my budget as much. We set a limit of R350 per person and let’s do a secret Santa where you pull last names out of a hat and shop for one person. There’s also a fun tradition of stealing presents. We do a “gift stealing pass” out of a hat, usually only two people can steal / exchange,” he said.

Rule no. 3: Don’t visit everyone everywhere all at once – alternate by year.

“We alternate families from three provinces every year. During the years I’m traveling, I book and pay for flights/accommodation from July,” she explained. Narissa says she first applies for her leave from mid-year and once approved, from then book the accommodation.

“December allowances usually provide the budget for petrol and tolls. We also set aside a certain amount for food and alcohol during the month,” Narissa said. She was clear to emphasize the importance of purchasing holiday alcohol from larger outlets rather than ordering services.

“Throughout the year, while I’m shopping for the week/month, I’ll buy my spirit of choice and keep it away. My partner and I also treat ourselves to alcohol,” she explained.

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Rule no. 4: Do your grocery shopping in November.

“I usually buy a leg of lamb, whole chickens and braai meat for the main days – Christmas, Boxing Day, NYE and NYD in November and freeze them. Those are the biggest expenses along the way,” he said.

After that, all he has left to buy is fruit, vegetables and other perishables. “The ones I buy with my December salary,” he said.

“As a general rule, I don’t leave everything for December. Planning the end of the year well in advance really helps take the pressure off. It also allows you to enjoy this time of year for what it is: time with the family, to relax and disconnect from the year that was,” he concluded.

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