Tighten your belt this December

19 December 2014

‘Tis the season to be jolly and be merry with those you hold dear, the season to share the gift of love, food and actual store bought gifts.


It’s the most blissful time of the year because you receive time off from the seemingly un-ending demands from work so you can recharge for the following year.

This is the best time of the year for families to see each other, catch up on the last year, bicker and drink themselves into a stupor.

Most people are carried away by the spirit of Christmas and the romance that comes with this time of the year that they fail to see past the day itself.

They over indulge in everything, food, drink, clothes and love. For some reason, this is the only time it is acceptable to be gluttonous with all things without any judgement from those around.

Unfortunately, for those of us who are not the Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerbergs of this world, when the table has been clear, the mistletoe has been dried up and all the fireworks has exploded, fear starts to creep in.

No longer clouded by the romance of the festive season and the prospects of the New Year, you begin to see your bank balance for what it actually is, which is empty and your ATM card just another piece of plastic taking up space in the leather wallet you’ve had for the past 10 years.

At the time, it felt like a good idea to spend all that money on showering your family and friends with gifts and whatever else their gluttonous hearts desired, so much so you earned the nickname “cash-money”.

Making it a habit to go through January without an identity card or an ATM card because the cash loan in your neighbourhood has them is shameful.

Most of us do not want to hear this, but it is time to tighten up your belt this December, as opposed to going through January with only a bottle of cold water in your fridge.

Not all the things you spend money on you need anyway, it is either things that go to waste because there is so much in excess or its stuff you can live without.

Most people can barely come through the month with their measly salaries, so to think that they can make it through a month and a half on that same salary and still “make it rain” is absurd.

The trick is to not make the festive season your main holiday, there is no rule book which states that this is the only time you can take a vacation or that it should be the highlight of your year.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on gifts which may be unappreciated, stick to not exceeding a certain amount per person, say a couple of hundred.

But even that could make your wallet significantly lighter because you could have a truckload of relatives with empty palms waiting to receive something.

Buy each person a thoughtful gift on their birthday throughout the year, a gift so amazing they will not want for anything. That way they will understand when you say you cannot afford to buy them anything for Christmas.

As opposed to trying to fly/drive your in-laws (who hate you anyway) to a magical destination, which is surely guaranteed to leave you in debt for the next decade, wait until a quieter time in the year, when rates are lower and take your family on that well deserved vacation.

There is no shame in not having fireworks or a real turkey at your dinner. Firstly, unless you have a permit (which most of you don’t) it is illegal to explode fireworks, and chicken tastes just as good as turkey. Secondly, it will all pay off when you reward yourself and your family in the coming year. Mark a date on your calendar and work toward making it the best holiday ever.

You will be able to send your kids to school in January with decent stationary and a school uniform, without having to worry that someone will put cement shoes on your feet so you can sleep with the fishes because you cannot pay the loan back. Plus, getting a loan throws off your budget and puts you in a deficit in the months that follow.

It’s not a competition, you don’t need to prove to anyone that you have money (when you actually don’t) and if you are worried that people will talk, well honey people will talk regardless of what you do.

You do what is best for your wallet and you will see who is talking in January when you have your finances in order and they don’t know where to get their next meal from.

So fret not, brace yourself and tighten that belt, it will all be worth it in the long run.

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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