Today, we bid goodbye to the month of November 2017 and tomorrow we go into December—the last month of 2017.
December is usually an exciting month mostly because of Christmas Day on December 25, the day when Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. To add spice to the Christmas season, at midnight on December 31, people the world over also celebrate the dawn of a New Year.
The run up to the two celebrations is always filled with excitement, characterised by merrymaking, prayer and, of course, shopping.
During Christmas, many, including the corporate world, share gifts with friends and business associates while some take a moment to celebrate with the less privileged in society, including those in hospitals, the elderly and orphans.
Shopping, though, tops the festive season expenditure list. No wonder the business community provides special offers.
There is nothing wrong with people shopping or spoiling themselves in different ways during the festive season. What is important, though, is to ensure proper budgeting and planning for the expenditures.
Budgeting and discipline are critical. Mind your shopping basket or trolley and stick to your shopping list. Do not get carried away by contents of another shopper’s basket in produce and supermarkets. If you did not plan to buy a chicken, do not buy one simply because your neighbour has picked two or so chickens at the market.
It is also worth noting that Christmas and New Year festivities have come before and will always be here. This calls for the need to celebrate responsibly.
Those who drive, please drive carefully by observing speed limits and all other traffic regulations as it is better to be late than “the late”. Above all, do not drink and drive. Do not imitate Formula One drivers. They get paid, you only “burn” your fuel and risk your life. Remember: Speed thrills, but also kills.
If you are a passenger, either in a private vehicle or public transport, avoid encouraging the driver to break the laws on the road. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility.
With the advent of social media, text-and-drive has sadly become a common bad habits among motorists. Text-and-drive could also be worse than drunk-driving. Before you pick your handset and respond to an incoming call, Facebook or WhatsApp alert, always tell yourself that no message is more important than your life. You can read and respond to messages or missed calls at your next stop whereas your life cannot be replaced once you ram into the stationary vehicle ahead or, worse still, a speeding overtaking vehicle from the opposite direction.
Passengers on public transport should also keep an eye on their drivers. Your safety is in their hands, so do not let them text while driving, or indeed, consume alcoholic beverages.
When you want to withdraw money from automated teller machines (ATM), be wary of the people around the machines before inserting your card. Stories abound of people who have been attacked at such places. Where possible, transact at ATMs in busy points and not quiet or deserted places, especially when it is too early in the morning or getting dark. Better still, opt for cashless transactions through online payments or point of sale devices.
Many employers traditionally pay December salaries earlier than usual. By mid-December, some workers will have already received their pay. Please spend the money wisely. Do not spend money like perishables such as tomatoes, and like there is no tomorrow.
To many of us, the festive season coincides with demands for farm inputs, school fees, rentals and merry expenditure. Be responsible by planning your expenditure and budgeting within your means. By all means, avoid living large on borrowed money.
Do not get carried away. Plan your festive season spending to avoid a bad aftertaste come January.