The festive season has officially arrived with all its glittering decorations and Christmas tunes. For many homeowners around the country, that means some serious spending is just around the corner. Those of us lucky enough to get end-of-year bonuses may have already earmarked them for gift-giving and seasonal festivities, but there could be an even more rewarding way to put our hard-earned money to work.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday madness and wake up in January with a bank account emptier than the Grinch’s Christmas stocking,” says Tony Clarke, MD of the Rawson Property Group. “After a long, hard year, we need to let loose a little, and nobody expects monk-like behaviour over December, but a little bit of awareness and future-planning can make those paycheques go so much further.”
Give yourself the gift of financial freedom
One of the easiest ways to increase the impact of your end-of-year bonus as a homeowner is to put that extra money straight into your bond. Sure, it doesn’t sound very festive, but it can literally increase the value of that money by as much as five times. That sounds like a pretty amazing holiday miracle, if you ask us!
“The sooner you put a lump sum into your bond, the bigger its impact,” says Clarke, “so this is a particularly good idea for new homeowners with a lot of time still left on their loan. For example, putting a R10 000 bonus into a recently opened bond of R1million can reduce the total cost by almost R65 000! That’s a lot of money to give up for a new gadget or gift that’ll be forgotten in a year’s time.”
Spoil yourself with home improvements
For those of us who can’t resist treating ourselves to a little spoiling over the holidays, Clarke suggests looking into home improvements that deliver instant gratification and long-term value at the same time.
“With summer in full swing, it’s the ideal time to think about adding a built-in braai, or putting a pergola over your patio to create the perfect outdoor chill spot,” he says. “Improvements like this not only enhance your lifestyle, they can also boost your resale value quite a bit – not to mention making festive entertaining much more enjoyable for everyone involved!”
As a bonus, a comfy entertainment area can make a great alternative for watching the game with friends without having to worry about a scary bar tab or overpriced snacks.
“Eating and drinking out over the holidays can get very pricey very quickly,” says Clarke, “so being able to entertain at home can end up saving you a lot down the line.”
Plan your gifting in advance
For many of us, this time of year is less about spoiling ourselves and more about treating our loved-ones. Sadly, seasonal gifts often add up to a little more than we were planning to spend. To help curb this tendency, Clarke suggests putting together a clear budget for gifting, and opting for smaller, more meaningful presents that don’t necessarily come with a high price tag.
“Picking – and sticking to – a budget is really key,” he says, “but that gets a lot harder to do if you’ve left your shopping to the last minute. Why not take advantage of all the end of year markets and sales to pick up unique and meaningful gifts for your loved ones, and put the days of expensive panic-buys behind you.”
If you’re keen to go one step further, try handmaking a few present this year, or gift personal experiences like a romantic picnic in the park. Remember, memories last far longer than almost any other gift, and don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.