The times are particularly hard this year—if not the case for you, then count yourself lucky. I can bet you, this is no year to play with your hard-earned money. So when I saw many of us staggering our way home this Christmas and trying to outdo each other on Facebook on who gets to the best holiday destination within and outside Malawi, I could only laugh. Why, because I know the economy may catch up with you soon enough. It’s because I have been there before. You see, life is too short and so it’s always good to enjoy life for its own sake, but without regrets. I hope when you take a sincere reflection on your Christmas spending this year, you have no regrets. Don’t hang yourself if you have spending regrets, just use the occasion to learn. There is no use worrying over things you can’t undo. But never lose the lesson.
Well, New Year is coming along with its same temptations to blow money celebrating it. So for once, take my advice. Take a long and deep breath before you can spoil yourself again. You see, if you sometimes drink your head off, this is the time to reflect on your over-limit line. Don’t cross that line because you will certainly look older with stress of school fees, rentals, loan repayments come mid-January next year.
For most of us on low incomes or tight budgets, festive seasons like this one can be a difficult time of the year. As New Year’s eve is just days away, our thoughts could again be on celebration and gifts. During this time, most of us enjoy family gatherings, meeting friends and exchanging presents, but unfortunately, in our modern society, this comes at a price. It requires spending considerable sums of money and, for many, it can strain an already-stretched budget.
The tradition of overspending and excessive gift buying during Christmas and New year time can leave you indebted and with a sense of frustration and disappointment. Spending too much during any festive season can create misery. So three pieces of free advice for you:
First, never, never buy gifts using a loan. You see, giving gifts to friends and other loved ones offers one a good feeling—and it’s important. But when you still have to pay for those gifts in the new year, it takes away some of the pleasure in giving it. So don’t borrow money to spoil yourself, friends, and family unless you have determined the ease of its repayment. In the current economic hiccups where interest rates are just obscene, repaying credit might be more difficult.
Second, consider not eating out on New Year’s day—spend time home with family. A home-cooked meal costs much less and is much tastier (and healthier) than a restaurant meal. I know hotel and restaurant owners will hang me for this, but only visit them if you can afford it so you can eat without thinking about the price on the menu tab. Better still, just go to your local prayer house and fast on New Year’s day, but do the fasting alone without forcing your spouse and children to join you.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! n