It does not seem that long ago when we were making New year’s resolutions for 2015. Time is the one commodity we cannot buy and we don’t always appreciate it. Sometimes we need to take a step back to see how we have spent our time and also how we plan to use our time more effectively going forward.
Taking a step back, what has happened at Aspire Wealth over the past year?
- Cheri enrolled and started studying towards her NQF5 qualification in financial planning.
- Gené joined our team as receptionist and junior administrator, and will take on a new role as assistant financial planner from January 2016.
- Nadine has produced some wonderful newsletters and e-mags to keep our clients informed and entertained.
- Sandy has evolved from hostess to receptionist and has truly blossomed in every aspect.
- Sam went on a Pastel Accounting course and passed this with flying colours.
- Everyone at Aspire wrote FICA tests and passed with 75% or more.
- We have had two presentations especially for you our clients >> click here to view event photos
- We conducted a client survey and looked at areas that need improvement based on your comments.
- Aspire wealth started a sister company called Your Legacy Pty Ltd that specializes in Wills, Trusts and Estate Administration www.your-legacy.co.za
- Aspire Wealth contributed to an article in the local press on retirement and also featured in an article regarding Financial Savvy >> click here to view articles
- I was invited as a guest speaker to address a topic on planning your retirement strategy.
This has been a really busy year with many achievements not only for all at Aspire Wealth, but for you our client as well. We have some really big plans for 2016 to improve our service offering to our clients, develop our people as well as grow the business.
Thank you for your continued support to enable Aspire Wealth to grow and nurture talent as well as develop people to reach their full potential.
by Grace van Zyl
By City Press • Nov 23 2015
Johannesburg - With the silly season around the corner, you may be relieved to know that overall bank card fraud has dropped by 28.6% from R353m in 2014 to R252m this year. However, you should still exercise constant vigilance when using your bank card, particularly over the festive season, as the instances of card-not-present fraud have significantly increased. With the increased roll-out of chip and PIN cards, criminals are now reverting to card jamming and swapping cards, accompanied by “shoulder surfing” for card pin numbers at ATMs.
Protect your bank card with these few tips:
• Register with your bank for real-time notifications of any transactions occurring on your account so that you can immediately identify fraudulent activity.
• If you use a credit or debit card to shop online, only provide your card information to reputable companies and for single purchases.
• Check that any online site you use is secure. This will be indicated by a picture of a padlock in the website address.
• Do not let your card out of your sight for any point of sale or other card-based purchase.
• Review your account statements regularly and immediately query any disputed transactions with your bank.
• Ensure that you get your own card back after every purchase.
• Never write down your PIN or disclose it to anyone.
• Report lost and stolen cards immediately.
• Destroy your credit card receipts before discarding them.
• Do not send emails that quote your card number and expiry date.
• Upgrade your cards to EMV (chip)-enabled cards – most point of sale devices in South Africa are EMV enabled, which will help protect you from card skimming.
• Sign the back of your card when you get it from the bank.
• Never assume an ATM or self-service terminal has retained your card. Always contact your bank to confirm the problem and ensure the card is blocked immediately. Do not wait until you get home or back to the office – a skimmed card can be replicated in minutes and used immediately.
• Do not believe hoaxes, for example, that entering your PIN backwards at an ATM will notify the police that you need assistance. These scams are designed to get you to divulge your PIN.
• Avoid using ATMs in secluded areas.
• If you feel unsafe at an ATM, return later or use another machine.
• Only enter your PIN when the ATM screen instructs you to.
• Stand close to the ATM and block the keypad with your hand.
• Never write your PIN on the card.
• Always check that you get your card back from the machine.
• Don’t count your cash at the ATM.
EASY RUM AND RAISIN POPSICLES
Makes about 12 lollies, depending on the size of your mould
Prep Time: 10 minutes
½ cup (125 ml) raisins
½ cup (125 ml) dark rum, plus more to taste
1 x 385 g tin condensed milk
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) good instant coffee (this produces a pleasing colour)
1 tub (250 ml) whipping cream
Soak the raisins in half a cup of rum for about six hours, or until they have absorbed most of the alcohol. Strain them (reserving the liquid), place them on a board and chop them roughly, leaving a few whole. Put them into a mixing bowl along with the rum they soaked in and add the condensed milk, lemon juice and coffee. Whisk well to combine. In a separate bowl, beat the cream to a soft peak, then fold the cream very gently into the condensed milk mixture.
At this point, you may want to add more rum to give the ice creams a proper kick. I add about a quarter of a cup (80 ml) more, but you can gently mix in up to 100 ml extra. Don't overdo the rum, however, as alcohol can inhibit the freezing of ice cream, and your lollies will not hold their shape when you unmould them.
Spoon (or pipe) the mixture into the glasses or your moulds, filling them right to the top, and push in a stick or teaspoon. If the sticks won't stand upright, wait for 20 minutes, or until the mixture has firmed a little. Freeze for 6-8 hours, or until solid. It's tricky getting these to stand up in a freezer with drawers, so I suggest you empty out a drawer and put a small tray in it. Push the drawer half closed so its standing level, then put the glasses on the tray one by one before pushing the drawer all the way closed.
To remove them from their moulds, heat a damp dishcloth in the microwave and briefly wrap it around each glass while gently twisting the stick and pulling upwards. Serve on a bed of crushed ice, or on an ice sheet made by pouring water into a tray and freezing it overnight.
BOOZY, FRUITY TRIFLE CAKE FOR CHRISTMAS
Makes one cake (Serves 8-10)
2 Madeira-cake loaves (trifle sponges)
1 cup (250 ml) sweet dessert wine, or similar
3 Tbsp (45 ml) tepid water
4 tsp (20 ml) gelatine powder
400 g cream cheese (I use full-fat cream cheese, but you could use a half-half mixture of full-fat and low fat)
2/3 cup (160 ml) icing sugar
1 cup (250 ml) fruit mincemeat, from a jar
2/3 cup (160 ml) slivered almonds, lightly toasted
16 Amaretti biscuits, lightly crushed
3 Tbsp (45 ml) brandy or whiskey
1 cup (250 ml) cream
350 ml cream
3 Tbsp (45 ml) icing sugar & a few drops of vanilla extract
Grease a 24-cm spring-form cake tin and line it with baking paper. (Cut out a circle for the base, and a long strip of paper that's the same width as the height of the cake ring. Alternatively, you can line the tin with several sheets of clingfilm.)
Cut the Madeira loaves horizontally (that is, with your bread knife held parallel to the chopping board) into long, 1-cm thick slices. Each slice will be about as wide as the cake tin is high. Pour the dessert wine into a shallow dish. Quickly dip each slice into the wine and then press the slices one by one around the edges of the tin. Use more dipped slices to line the bottom of the tin, pulling them into pieces if necessary and fitting them together like a jigsaw. Don't worry if the sponge lining looks uneven and messy: the whole cake will be covered with whipped cream. Reserve any left-over slices of cake for the topping. Put the tin in the fridge while you make the filling.
Put the tepid water in a teacup-sized bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine powder and set aside to 'sponge' for a few minutes. Place the bowl in a pot of simmering water (the water should come half-way up the sides) and stir occasionally as the gelatine melts. When the liquid is clear, remove the bowl and set aside to cool for a few minutes. (Alternatively, you can melt the gelatine very gently in a microwave oven.)
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and icing sugar, until smooth. Stir in the mincemeat, almonds, crushed Amaretti biscuits and brandy (or whiskey). Stir in the melted gelatine.
In a separate bowl, whisk the cream to a soft, thick peak. Gently fold the cream into the cream-cheese filling mixture. Pour the mixture into the cake-lined tin and smooth the top. Dip the remaining slices of Maedira cake in the leftover wine and press them lightly over the top surface of the cake. Cover the tin with clingfilm and refrigerate. An hour or two before you're ready to serve the cake, make the icing. Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract to a firm and voluptuous (but not stiff) peak.
Take the cake out of the fridge and gently loosen it from its mould. Invert the cake on a serving platter and gently peel away the baking paper or clingfilm. Spread the whipped cream evenly in a fairly thin layer all over the cake and decorate with silver balls, or chocolate shavings, or brandied cherries, or other festoonments of your choice. Serve cold.
Thank you from the Aspire Team
Experts say portion control is “key” when the temptations are endless.
It's that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner - frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor's, jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you're like most Americans, you'll put on a pound or two by New Year's Day.
So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
But you don't have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. "Portion control is the key," says Susan Finn, PhD, RD. Finn serves as chairwoman of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. "I don't believe you can't eat food that you like - even indulgences - but it is the amount you eat," she tells WebMD.
Of course, it's not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are endless. That's why WebMD compiled these tips to help you avoid overindulging.
1. Never Arrive Hungry
New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. "Don't go to a party when you're starving," she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.
2. Divert Your Attention
Many people forget that there's more to a holiday party than food, Goldberg tells WebMD. "Don't look at the party as just a food event," she says. "Enjoy your friends" company or dancing. Focus on something other than food."
3. Pace Yourself
Have you ever tried telling yourself you'll only eat during the first half hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. "If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food. "To munch at a leisurely pace, Finn recommends putting your fork down between every bite" this puts you in control." Finn agrees. She says chatting is a great diversion, whether you're at a small family dinner or a large party. "Take your mind off of food and focus on the conversation."
4. Count Your Canapés
When there are canapés, it's easy to lose count of how many you eat. Keep track by stashing a toothpick in your pocket for each one. Set a limit and stick to it.
5. Outsmart the Buffet
When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. "Go for the simplest foods on the buffet," Finn says. "Fresh fruits and vegetables and shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips."
6. Limit Alcohol
Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. "It's not just about calories but about control," Finn explains. "If you drink a lot you, won't have as much control over what you eat." If you feel out of place without a drink, Goldberg suggests sipping water or club soda, "so you have something to carry like everyone else."
7. Be Choosy About Sweets
When it comes to dessert, be very selective. "Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you," Goldberg says. Her personal rule on sweets: "If it's going to have calories, it has to be chocolate. "What about sampling several desserts, if you only take a tiny bite of each one? "You have to know yourself," Goldberg says. "Some people can eat one bite of something and stop. I don't think most people can do that. "If you know you're the type who can't stop at one bite, you're better off taking a small portion of a single dessert than piling your plate with several treats you plan to "try."
8. Bring Your Own Treats
Whether you're going to a friend's party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you'll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting. And don't feel your dessert has to be typical holiday fare. "Get away from rigid thinking about what holiday food has to be," Goldberg says. "People love fruit."
9. Limit 'Tastes' While Cooking
If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those "tastes." "People lose their appetites when they've been cooking because they've been eating the whole time," Finn tells WebMD. Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post-seasoning. "Just put the spoon in and taste a little bit," Finn says. "It's not grounds for a big scoop." For tried-and-true recipes, dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served.
10. Walk It Off
Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for a while. "Get people off the couch and move," Finn says. "Go out for a walk as a family before or after the meal." She says walking not only benefits you physically but also puts you in a mindset to be more careful about what you eat. "There's something about activity that puts you in control."
It almost seems impossible that we are fast approaching 2015. Where did the year go, and what have we achieved? It is only when one stops and reflects that you come to terms with what you have achieved. I can now look back with a sense of pride on the activities and achievements that Aspire Wealth and the team have worked so hard at. To you our client we are ever grateful for as without you these milestones would not have been possible. Our passion and focus remains the same -You, our client and in so doing....Turning Yours Dreams into Reality.
Here are a few of the highlights and achievements from January to November:
In January Aspire Wealth went through multiple changes, new offices; rebranding and our website underwent a major facelift. We also welcomed Samantha back as Practice Manager and Administrator.
In February Funda and Sandy joined our growing team and we started working on our new electronic Magazine which was launched in April. The magazine focuses on serious financial issues, and lifestyle which includes some scrumptious recipes. Our Finance Minister gave his budget speech toward the end of February and we launched our first electronic tax guide.
March - April we reflected on the Argus and provided you with cycling tips and high energy snacks. We introduced some of our panel experts who provided you with insights regarding the new budget speech and how it affects you.
May - July we focused on education ranging from financial education and enrolment to tertiary institutions for higher education. We also had our general elections and provided you with information on the IEC as well as some useful tips regarding voting day. In July we spent our 67 minutes in memory of Madiba refurbishing soccer posts for the Zama Montesori School.
August to October we focussed on your Financial Health and gave you insights on how to improve this. We hosted two Grade 11 students and provide a job shadow opportunity to them. The Aspire team also entered a raft race and were awarded the best team spirit, which was also featured in the local newspaper. In August Nadine joined our team as personal assistant and marketing co-ordinator.
November we started preparing for the holiday season giving you tips on what to do before you go on holiday. We also presented our Financial Savvy course to 58 community members from the Tsakane settlement. Many of our clients also attended a lifestyle event with Zelda La Grange as the main speaker.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you a blessed holiday season with your loved ones.
The Aspire Team.
Cape Town - The newly gazetted immigration rules have been called unconstitutional with considerable legal upheaval expected.
While government believes it has drawn a clear distinction between short-stay and long-stay permanent residency visas, Robbie Ragless, CEO at New World Immigration believes these changes have been implemented too hastily.
According to Ragless, a clear outline of the costs for each visa has not been made available and the involvement of the Department of Labour and the Department of Trade and Industry in certain application processes means it has become extremely cumbersome and riddled with delay opportunities - already an issue for the industry.
The Department of Home Affairs has contracted VFS to receive all applications but was reportedly still accepting applications until the official handover has taken place.
Following is an outline of the key issues surrounding the major rule changes:
1. Life Partner and Spouse Visas
Initially, government wanted proof that spouses or life partners have been together for at least 5 years before an application for a permanent or temporary residency could be made. This has since been changed to 2 years. Life Partners will however need to attend an interview “on the same date and time to determine the authenticity of the existence of their relationship”.
Issues arise when changes or extensions have to be applied for - with certain applications only eligible if done from the person's original country of residence.
2. Changing Visa status while in South Africa
The application period has been changed from 30 days prior to the expiry of the current visa to 60 days. According to New World Immigration, Home Affairs is already plagued with visa application backlogs and this new period would negatively impact the approval process.
The new regulations also state that a person cannot change from a visitor’s visa into another type of visa and these applications for change of conditions must be made at a mission abroad - ie an embassy or consulate.
Under the “old legislation”, it was possible to apply for a temporary residence permit whilst using a visitor's visa but the “new legislation” now prohibits any foreigner from applying for a temporary residence permit using a visitor’s visa.
Those who are using a visitor’s visa in South Africa would now need to leave and apply in their own country of residence.
If a person's visitor visa has expired, they would need to seek legal advice about exiting South Africa as immigration officials have been advised to ban any foreigners for overstaying - by making them an undesirable person for 1 year, 2 years or 5 years.
3. Business Visas
This visa sees a more forensic approach in the new application process. Businesses will now need to get a recommendation letter from the Department of Trade and Industry and business visas will only be granted for 3 years at a time.
4. Critical Skills Visa
The Quota and Exceptional skills work permits have been replaced by the Critical Skills permit but the list of Critical Skills has not been published.
5. Intra-Company Visas
The employee will need to be employed with the foreign office for no less than 6 months before being eligible for transfer to South Africa. The visa will now be available for 4 years.
There has also been a massive increase in the administrative fines to be issued to those who overstay and any other persons who are in contravention of the act. Also, if a visa has expired foreigners face a ban labelling them an undesirable person for 1 year, 2 years or 5 years.
The Arrive Alive Road Safety website would like to share Road Safety Suggestions not only for the Festive Season and Easter - but for every day and all hours of the day!
Planning the Journey / Rules of the Road
• Obey the rules of the road and carry you drivers Licence with you.
• Plan the route to your holiday destination and give yourself enough time to reach the destination.
• Use a GPS navigation tool or a road atlas to plan your trip in advance.
• For peace of mind, try to stick to major routes or toll roads - If you are going to travel on the ‘back roads’ identify the towns along the route and what the distance is between them.
• Do not get stranded without fuel – Always plan ahead where you will re-fuel.
• Plan rest stops along the way and if you are travelling with kids it is a great way to let them know when and where you will be stopping.
• Always ensure that a friend or family member, who is not travelling with you, is aware of the route that you are planning to travel. Ideally you should also update them on your progress of the journey and let them know when you have reached your destination safely.
• Try to avoid driving after dark if possible.
• Expect others not to be as obedient to the law as yourself.
Vehicle Fitness /Roadworthiness
• Make sure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before departure.
• All lights and indicators, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, exhaust system and tyres should be carefully examined for faults.
• Take your vehicle for a full check before embarking on your holiday travels!
• Do not overload your vehicle.
Driver Fitness / Driver Fatigue
• Have a good rest before you embark on your journey.
• Take safety breaks every 2 hours or 200km
• Do not drink and drive - If you intend to consume alcohol make alternative arrangements so you will not be behind the wheel!
• Remain alert at all times and avoid Driver Distractions such as cellular conversations, texting etc.!
• Be responsible with seatbelt wearing - Always wear your seat belt and see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs.
• South African law requires each passenger being transported in a motor vehicle to make use of the seatbelts and strap themselves in. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all passengers are strapped in mains strapped in while travelling. It is a criminal offence for an adult to allow a child younger than 14 years to travel unrestrained in a vehicle equipped with seatbelts or a car safety seat.
• Infants and children under the age of 12 should travel in the back seat of a vehicle and should be buckled up, either in a car seat, booster seat or using the cars seatbelt, depending on the age and weight of the child.
• Infants between 0 months and one year of age, or up to 10kg in weight, should travel in a rear facing car seat in the back of a car. In the event of an accident, the impact will be on the seat and not on the infant.
Defensive Driving Behaviour
• Drive defensively! Risk takers are collision makers!
• Avoid all distractions -Keep both eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel!
• Be visible – drive with your lights on!
• Headlights should be dipped well before an approaching vehicle is within range of the main beam.
• Stay within the speed limit at all times.
• Be especially alert when approaching traffic lights, intersections and level crossings.
• Only overtake when it is absolutely safe to do so!
• Maintain at least a 3 second following distance - this distance should be increased at night, in foggy or rainy conditions and when the road is wet.
• Avoid driving on the blind spot of other vehicles.
• Be courteous towards fellow road users - keep your temper and resist the temptation to retaliate.
• Be cautious when driving alone, and avoid stopping in remote areas.
Avoiding Criminals on the Road
• Remain alert to any areas that might present a threat of criminal activity such as hijackings and smash-and-grab.
• Always place your valuables in the boot of your car and never leave items such as cell phones and wallets in open sight, unattended, or on the seat of a car.
Recognizing the Safety of All Road Users
• Try to recognize potentially dangerous drivers on and pedestrians alongside the road and keep well clear of them.
• Try to keep children away from the roads! The roads are not the place to play!
• When waking near traffic – avoid distractions and be visible!
• Motorists must be aware of pedestrians and animals on the open road specifically near more rural areas.
• Bikers should drive with lights on and wear Protective Clothing at all times
• Bikers should never hang out in a truck’s blind spot or “No-Zone.”
• Be extra cautious, paying attention to the signals and brake lights of other vehicles, especially trucks.
• When cycling during the holidays remember that there is strength to be found in numbers.
• Do not go on the road alone and rather find a partner to cycle with you - This will be very important especially in the event of an emergency.
• Inform friends and family when you will be cycling, the road you will be cycling on and when you can be expected to return.
• Carry a fully charged cellular phone with you so you can request assistance in the event of an emergency.
• The law requires that you cycle in single file and with a safety helmet.
Safe Driving in Challenging Road Conditions
• Always adjust your driving to the driving conditions and environment.
• If it is raining, turn your headlights and windscreen wipers on. Try to reduce speed and try not to brake suddenly. Often there is oil and petrol on the road, which can cause you to skid out of control.
• If there is fog, reduce speed, turn headlights on low, or use fog lamps. Use the road markings or the verge of the road as a guide and be very alert for sudden looming obstacles.
• Always keep in mind – if you cannot see or operate the vehicle safely – You should not be driving!
• Travelling with small children can be a challenge. Small children can get bored and irritable on long trips so make sure you pack a variety of their favourite snacks and toys such as portable DVD players, colouring books and crayons.
• If your child tends to suffer from motion sickness and complains of dizziness or nausea, this can be helped by getting out of the car for a bit of fresh air. Alternatively, there are over the counter drugs available for treating motion sickness, which need to be taken before.
Emergency stops and Accidents
• Try to avoid stopping on the highway, rather take the next of ramp to stop in a more public area where you can stretch, refresh yourself and/or take a break from driving; and have numbers for roadside assistance and other emergencies close at hand or saved on your cell phone, so that you are well-prepared for any eventuality.
• Keep essential roadside equipment with you as many breakdowns are caused by relatively minor problems. Items include a first aid kit, tow rope, warning triangles, torch and fire extinguisher.
• In the event of an accident, determine the extent of the damage or injuries and assess whether or not medical attention is required.
• Take a picture with a camera or mobile phone and file an accident report with the police as you will need a case number for your insurance company to file a claim. Remember to get names, addresses, telephone numbers and ID numbers of everyone involved in the accident.
What do I do in an Emergency?
Know the Emergency numbers!
ER24: 084 124
Netcare: 082 911
Help is at Hand!
Road Safety Information on your Mobile phone – www.arrivealive.mobi
Where do I report Bad Driving?
National Traffic Call Centre Number: 0861 400 800
Assist Emergency Response Units by:
• Ensuring they have information on hand when calling - accurate address details and nature of the incident.
• Landmarks are useful and info street names exist, agree on a meeting area at a specific landmark.
• Allowing emergency vehicle right of way to respond to the emergencies and giving way timeously.
• Allowing access to the scene of the incident and patient/s.
• Send someone to meet the vehicles, ensure that security at entrance points are made aware of emergencies in complexes,
• Switch on some outside lights if incident is at night
• Clear access routes and lock away any dangerous or vicious domestic animals.
Aspire Wealth Management together with the Rotary (Benoni Aurora) conducted a ‘Financial Savvy’ workshop for 58 ladies from the surrounding rural areas of Langeville, Tsakane on the 25th and the 26th of November, which hopefully will ground the Kopanang members in a much deeper understanding of the choices they make around their personal finances and provide a critical way forward towards this sustainability.
Modules covered in the workshop ranged from “Getting to grips with money” to “Financial jargon”. The ladies that the workshop was given to were very eager to learn and took avid notes.
More about Kopanang Community Trust began in 2001, The women who formed the beginning of the project through the facilitation of Dominican Sister Sheila Flynn, chose the Sotho name ‘Kopanang’ meaning, “Gathering together”, bringing women from diverse cultures and the two townships of Tsakane and Geluksdal. The heart of Kopanang is its commitment to building relationships and providing skills for an income-generating project that enables them to feed their children through exquisite embroidery and bead-making. Not only does their work generate income and promote independence, it creates beauty in a place many would see as devoid of beauty. Kopanang’s sought-after embroidery creations are to be found in many countries of the world.
By independent expert Harvey Jones
Everybody wants Christmas to be magical, especially if they have young children. You just have to make sure your money doesn't vanish at the same time.
With Christmas fast approaching, it’s too late this year to reel in your spending over a longer period. But you can still do some effective short-term planning. Think about all areas of your festive spending – presents, food, drink and entertainment, parties (and the clothing and transport costs often associated with them) and festive decorations and cards and postage.
Allocate a total budget for your Christmas spending. To help work this out, you could complete an online budget calculator to work out what you can afford in addition to your regular outgoings. That way you can focus your financial firepower on those seasonal must-haves, and make it to your January payslip without going into the red.
Food and drink
This is a good place to start when cutting back on Christmas spending. You may have had some practice already, because plenty of people were cutting back on Christmas last year. The average family spent R2254 on food and drink in 2012, some R420 less than the year before, and I bet they still had just as much fun. So it can be done!
Start by drawing up your festive food menu. Work out who is coming for Christmas, how many meals you will need to make, and how much they are likely to eat and drink. Drawing up a Christmas menu is better than roaming the supermarket aisles picking up whatever takes your fancy. Impulse buying is expensive.
"Ask your guests to bring a contribution to the meal"
Think twice about taking any children with you when you go out food shopping. Pester power can be irresistible at this time of year. You might also want to keep a couple of emergency meals in the freezer, just in case you get your sums wrong. Don't be shy about asking your guests to bring a contribution to the meal, whether it's some wine, cheese, or their favourite speciality dish (they'll be flattered to be asked). It's good to share the financial burden at this time of year.
Buying gifts for family and friends is the biggest single Christmas expense, with the average spending R8864 last year. There has to be scope for making plenty of savings on that kind of bill. Again, the internet can help. Before making any major purchases, whether at the mall or online, compare prices. Don't leave your online shopping till the last minute, by ordering early, you can also take advantage of cheaper postal rates. If you have to send everything first-class to make sure it arrives in time, you'll spend a lot more.
"Before making any major purchases, whether at the mall or online, compare prices"
If buying a lot of gifts from the same site, consolidate all your gift orders to save postage and packing costs. You might also save money by shopping through cashback and discount voucher sites. Offers also extend to restaurants and nights out, saving you money on your social life.
Some families strike a pact to buy all their Christmas presents in the sales. It makes financial sense, although it does take some of the fun out of Christmas morning. Others agree only to buy presents for children, rather than adults, or get creative by making home-made gifts, which are both cheaper and carry the personal touch. Passing on unwanted presents, known as "re-gifting" is another option.
Everybody loves Christmas, but nobody likes paying for it. That’s why millions of us will delay the fateful day by using credit and store cards. If you need to use credit and decide to put your festive spending on plastic, make sure you pay it back as soon as possible. Many cards grant you up to 56 days’ free interest, after that you will pay interest that’s typically around 15% to 18%. Store cards can be even more expensive, charging as much as 30%.
If you run up a large debt on your existing card, you could apply for a new card offering a 0% balance transfer card. Some cards offer introductory rates for more than two years, but you may need a clean credit record to qualify.
"Try to avoid going overdrawn, but if that's unavoidable, talk to your bank first"
Try to avoid going overdrawn, but if that's unavoidable, talk to your bank first. You will typically pay around 15% if you get your overdraft authorised in advance, but around 30% on unauthorised overdrafts.
Bacon is probably one of the most well -loved flavours in the world – so it is guaranteed that no one will complain about getting this yummy gift!
I was blown away by how easy and delicious this recipe is.
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 25 min
100g diced bacon
15ml maple syrup
50g Maldon salt
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place the bacon on a baking tray that is lined with baking paper or foil.
Lining the tray will just make cleaning up easier at the end.
Grill it in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and crisp. Drizzle the syrup on top and place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Remove it from the baking tray and leave it to cool. Once cooled, place it in a food processor and blend until fine. It should look like fine bread crumbs. Stir in the salt and place it in a sterilized jar. Store it in the fridge until ready to use. Makes 1 cup.
Tip: It adds great flavour to fried eggs, roasted chicken or pasta dishes.
These cute little bites are reminiscent of the candy apples we had as children. This is the more grown up and gourmet version.
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 20 min
10 cherries, stems removed
1 cup sugar
red food colouring
Carefully skewer the cherries onto 10 wooden sosatie sticks.
Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then turn up the heat to a gentle simmer. Add in the candy thermometer and cook until it reaches hard boil stage (150°C). Do not stir. It should take about 20 minutes. Swirl in a few drops of the red food colouring. Ensure that you do not stir. Dip each skewered cherry in the sugar and allow it to set upright on a non-stick baking sheet until hard. Cover each one with some cellophane when gifting or eat straight away.
Three liqueurs to end a festive feast
Rooibos, chocolate and salted caramel flavours. Yum!
Preparation time: 25 min
2 rooibos tea bags
30ml brown sugar
rolo chocolate liqueur:
90g Rolo chocolate
salted caramel liqueur:
60ml caramel Treat (tinned caramel)
2.5ml Maldon salt
Method - (makes 250ml each)
Heat the cream in a saucepan. Remove it from the heat just before it starts to boil. Add in the tea bags and sugar and allow it to steep until cold.
Remove the tea bags and stir in the vodka. Store it in the fridge until ready to use.
rolo chocolate liqueur:
Melt the chocolate and cream over a double boiler. Stir in the vodka. Allow it to cool and store it in the fridge until ready to use.
salted caramel liqueur:
Melt the caramel, cream and sugar in a saucepan. Remove it from the heat and stir in the salt and vodka.
Allow it to cool and store it in the fridge until ready to use.
These little chocolate balls are perfect for making hot chocolate. Simply pop one into half a cup of warm milk and stir!
Preparation time: 25 min
150g dark chocolate
60m desiccated coconut
Melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler.
Stir and allow it to set for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Use a melon baller to scoop out 6 balls and use your hands to roll them neatly. Dip it in the coconut and leave it to set until hard. 1 ball should be melted in to 125ml of warm milk.
Recipes and images published with permission of Illanique van Aswegen.