How Christmas can be stress-free
We love the festive season. We travel, dine, wine and have fun even as we relax and enjoy burying the worries of the year. But all this comes at a cost. Here’s how to stay sane
As Christmas draws closer, many people are anxious about how they are going to spend the day and still stay sane come January. Others want to have a great time at all costs.
For Betty Muindi, she is considering spending the festive season with her family here in Nairobi to forestall a financial storm in January.
To her, Christmas isn’t just about spending money and going for vacations to great destinations, but quality time spent as a family.
“I know for many people, travelling upcountry to see relatives who will make you part with a few coins for their upkeep is necessary.
But the moment you decide to just bless those who are dear to you, you might as well brace yourself for tough times ahead.
Not that it is bad to give, or that I’m being mean, but sometimes the pocket may not allow it,” she says
Well, other than that, she has to ensure she pays school fees for her daughter who will be starting school next year and this isn’t just going to be easy if she splashes all her cash on festivities.
It’s not any different for Shelmith Ngari who also wants to cut costs. She will head to her Kirinyaga home for the festive season instead of enjoying parte after parte in Nairobi as has been the norm.
“This year is going to be tough for me because I might as well end up buying only two people Christmas clothes and call it a day,” she says.
She recalls how her last festive holiday was so much fun and she even ended up attending the Wasafi festival. “Last year wasn’t as tough as this one, so I ended attending many parties,” she recalls.
According to Lisa Kimathi, a senior research associate at Standard Investment Bank (SIB), the festive season is not so much about minimising spending, but spending within your limits.
This means you shouldn’t spend more than you have. So if for instance your usual monthly expenditure is about Sh10,000 to 15,000 maintain that.
“You need to remember your December salary (which ordinarily checks-in early) should last to the end of January, which in most cases is a tough one, right?” she poses.
To spend your Christmas in sanity, take care of core expenses such as food, rent, school fees and insurance before holiday spending. This, according to her, usually saves your bank account the Njaanuary stress.
With the current economic hardships, Kimathi says seeking more cost efficient ways to celebrate the holidays such as indoor plans with friends can be a cheaper option than outdoor plans.
Stay on track
“It’s okay to say no to plans that are beyond your budget, and don’t be afraid to say you can’t afford to participate in an activity. Through this, you don’t need to overspend in order to meet expectations of people around you,” says Kimathi.
To her, avoiding luxury and taking advantage of offers that benefit you saves you from digging deeper in your pockets.
Another important thing to do is to plan early for holiday spending— Kimathi suggests you can either consider saving up throughout the year for a Christmas holiday or making prior payments of holiday destinations that you look forward to visiting.
“You need to remember it’s about spending within your usual limits. It’s a balance between restraining yourself and having a good time during the jolliest time of year,” she says.
Also determine whether to keep or discard family traditions. Continuing family traditions links us to the past, particularly the carefree days of our childhood when Santa Claus was real and Christmas Day was the most exciting day of the year.
Most families have holiday traditions, some simple and others quite elaborate. Whatever your family practices during the season, if what was done in the past doesn’t work today, stop or change the practice. Just because something is traditional is no reason to keep doing it.
Now that you are fully committed to a festive season that won’t leave you broke, staying on track is important. It’s easier to stick to your budget when you’re easily able to see how and where you are spending your hard-earned cash. Start a spreadsheet, and make sure you add all your expenses and purchases to it, every day.