Being financially prepared for the end of year

The end of the year brings some pretty heavy financial commitments. There are holidays, festive season gifts and revelry, and back-to-school expenses, to name a few. If you are unprepared, you might find yourself unstuck or faltering on a repayment. On the flip side, solid planning and preparation can mean a stress-free and relaxing festive break. Taking out a responsible personal loan can help provide a little breathing room and there are a number of ways that you can prepare for the inevitable strain on the wallet that December to January brings.

Track

Before you can do anything about finances, it’s important to understand your spending habits. Tracking will help map these out. By recording everything you do over a period of at least 30 days, you will have a far clearer picture about where your money goes. The longer the period spent tracking, the greater clarity you’ll have about expense patterns. Time constraints, however, may force you to act on your data after just a month. Tracking will also allow you to see an honest depiction of your expenses vs. your income – useful data, should you be thinking about a loan.

There are many apps available to help you track expenses and it might also be a good time to use an online personal loan calculator to determine how much money you can qualify for, should you require more finances. Tracking gives you a benchmark against which you can set goals.

Compare

A tangible record of expenses, empowers you when making decisions about what to cut. The festive season can be a little overwhelming when it comes to expenses, so you should try be ruthless. An important, somewhat logical disclaimer here, should be that you shouldn’t spend more than your income allows. Budgeting is an important skill to learn. Even if you’ve used a personal loan calculator to determine what amount of money is necessary to apply for, you should still be responsible. And scale the festive revelry accordingly – gold bullion in the Christmas crackers is probably not the greatest choice, if you can’t afford to meet your mortgage payments for December.

Prioritise

Established goals give you something to work towards. Determine which expenses are more important, and which (if any) can be pushed out to January. An example would be festive gifts. Buying these in January instead of in the more traditional months of December, might make for an awkward conversation with an expectant friend or family member. New school shoes in December, however, would be equally useless, given that the children are more likely to spend the summer barefoot or in takkies.

The great thing about having tangible tracked data, is that you can see exactly where you’re able to save money to make up for shortfalls. Realistic reflections on expenditures can help: do you want it or need it?

Act on

Even the greatest plans are worthless if you fail to act upon them. Many people go through great lengths to develop financial strategies to help them cope just to discard it all when the time comes to make an unplanned or pressurised purchase. And this is why so many people suffer through January and February the following year.

An actionable plan also allows you to be a little flexible. If an unplanned expense is made, a quick budget review can help save the money down the line, balancing it out. Acting on your plans is about making your money work to your benefit through regular management.

Of course, this all assumes that you’re able to implement these four steps with more than a month left till the sharp end of the festive season. But, while 2017 is a new year with fresh opportunities, 2016, could’ve been a financial disaster, making planning and saving simply impossible. In this scenario, you should seriously consider making use of a personal loan calculator to determine if a loan is a responsible way forward. A personal loan ensures that you don’t take out money that’s already been repaid to a loan – the main advantage over using a credit card.

While credit cards are a popular choice during this period, credit card debt can be a vicious cycle. A personal loan with the view to paying it back over a short period of time, is a far more attractive prospect. Application for a loan can help bring peace of mind during this particularly expensive season.

At the end of the day, saving throughout the year should be your preferred method of doing things, and while 2016 may see you take out a loan, 2017 is sure to be easier with a strong plan of action.