TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY!
The holiday season is almost upon us and many of us are looking forward to winding down, and ending the year on a positive note. This brings reduced control of finances and a desire to splurge. Being in a relaxed mode and having worked hard all year long, makes it very easy to switch from a “planned budget” to one that requires a “maxing out of credit cards.” And before we know it we’ve started the new year with a whopping negative bank balance.
Each year, we say that the next year will be different. We make new resolutions and vow never to make the same mistakes. But how many of us actually stick to the promises we make to ourselves? So here are some reminders on how to stay in control this holiday.
• Determine your holiday budget – Decide upfront how much you can afford to spend. Allocate funds to specific categories, for example Christmas gifts, travel and accommodation. You could also break your total spend into a daily budget.
• Remember your daily budget – A daily budget is easier to keep track off when you’re in holiday mode. Being consciously aware of your spending limits makes it easier to take note of over spending. The result could create feelings of guilt and this will help to curb overspending in the days that follow.
• Draw up lists – Identifying what needs to be bought and who you need to buy gifts for can help reduce over buying.
• Avoid the malls – Often just being in a mall can result in spending money unnecessarily. We are tempted with sales and in store specials and believe we are scoring but usually end up buying more than we need. Online shopping can offer more control but do plan ahead as you need to account for delivery time.
• If you’re going away, remember to switch off non-essential appliances as this will save on electricity. Make sure bills are taken care of before you leave so that there are no nasty surprises when you return. This can also prevent you from using funds intended for other expenses.
As the holiday season progresses, bear in mind that December’s salary has to stretch till the end of January. For those with kids in school, back to school shopping is an additional expense that needs to be covered. Set financial goals for the year ahead before the year starts as this will also help you to keep in control of your holiday spending.
The last thing you want is to begin the year stressed out due to overspending from the holiday that was meant to de-stress you.
Written By Jean Archary
Development Specialist Old Mutual Wealth
We need to take back Christmas for what it is and not for the commercialized holiday that it has become. To keep up with expensive presents and fine décor and exquisite meals just leads us entering another January starting off the year in debt or praying hard for the first pay cheque of the year!
So forget about a new year’s resolutions, let’s make a Christmas resolution: “I shall not overspend this holiday”…but how?
Does a present have to be something sparkly that comes in a small box or the latest gadget or mobile phone? Or should it be a gift from the heart, a way of saying thank you for the year and thank you for being you! So why not something personal, special and homemade. Like bake a batch of cookies or cupcakes, personalize them if you want it to be memorable. It will be a time for the family to get together as well and do something different, after all spending time together is what Christmas is all about?
But if Aunty B is hard to please then perhaps, plan a budget get a list of what you want to purchase for each person and STICK TO IT.
Its easy to get carried away with the festivities and the joyful carols playing in the background and the dangerous 50% off Sale boards, but have a list of people that you need to shop for and budget for what you are prepared to spend on each individual.
Another trick is to plan ahead, get your shopping done now and avoid the rush, get online and order goods in advance to lighten your load. Some stores offer additional online discounts and you avoid the temptation at the malls.
Make homemade décor, get the kids involved, use recycled goodies and craft market ideas and nothing is better that edible décor; think glazed star-shaped cookies hanging from the tree or angel topped cupcakes and colorful popcorn strings.
Just a final thought, Christmas started as a holy day before it was a holiday… so let’s have fun, trade materialism for memories, shop smarter and remember it really is the thought that counts.
Happy HolyDays Everyone!
Written By Yariva Ramdhani
Financial Planning Coach at Old Mutual Wealth
During the month of October Aspire Wealth in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Benoni Aurora conducted a refresher course in Financial Savvy to 46 women from the Kopanang Community Trust. Kopanang Community Trust is a Non-Profit Organisation that helps empower previously disadvantaged women.
The women are taught to embroider and their products are sold internationally. Over and above embroidery they are taught design, entrepreneurial skills, personal development, hygiene, nutrition, people skills etc. They are also taught how to transfer their skills to other women in their community. Many of these women are single parents and their involvement at Kopanang provides the means to feed, clothe and educate their families.
The refresher course focused on how to compile a realistic budget in line with their income and how to set goals and save towards specific goals. The second part of the course focused on how to develop a business plan and increase their earning potential. The highlight of this course was the SWOT analysis were they were taught to play to their strengths, turn their weaknesses into strengths, make the best of their opportunities and work around the threats that could prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Whilst presenting this course at Kopanang a professional film maker from Belgium filmed the session for a documentary about mapping the empowerment of the women from the Tsakane community.
What Sister Sheila Flynn, the founder of Kopanang had to say:
“We were so thankful for your ‘Financial Savvy’ workshop that you conducted at Kopanang Community Trust for our members. The Kopanang Savings Club continues to encourage even the smallest amount of savings on a monthly basis – your workshop helped our members understand better their finances.”
“Thank you so very much for your wonderful work at Kopanang. You truly are so good to us. It is so providential - the training Terry Sacco does with our leadership on Thursday mornings has as of this week started focusing on vision and commitment so it ties in with what you gave us.
At our general planning meeting today our team was talking about the necessity of planning - and not procrastinating!
You have left your mark. And it is lovely.
Thanks and love,
Team Aspire Sunflowers Awarded!!
Aspire held its annual team building day at the Rotary’s ‘Anything that floats day” which was held at the Benoni Sailing Club on the Homestead Dam on the 10th of October. Aspire’s theme this year was in honour of the Sunflower Fund Organization in support of their National Bandana Day which was originally celebrated by South Africans on the 12th of October 2015.
Our team built a raft that supported our two “sailors”, Charl Van Der Merwe and Damian Hillcoat, who rowed hard to land us in third place for the one kilometer race, whilst competing against five other teams. Our team was prepped with ammunition to attack the competitors with water balloons and hearty war cries, creating a fantastic team spirit which could not be broken.
Not only did Team Aspire Sunflowers take third place in the race, they won the award for the best team spirit for the second year in a row.
Aspire Wealth took great pleasure in hosting our second “Job Shadowing” experience for two scholars Kagiso Shapo and Kenny Mphepo from the St Francis College on the 9th of October 2015.
Job shadowing is to gather career related information and expand the scholar’s contacts, it also allows opportunities to build interviewing skills, awareness of trends in the field and see workforce technologies in actions.
Kagiso and Kenny were issued with study material based on their interested fields of their career choices and they each completed a feedback report. Amongst their comments made were that they really loved the experience and did not realize how many different factors are involved in the different kinds of roles in our offices.
They both felt that they needed to reconsider what they truly wanted to study further as they had many case studies to play themselves against which made them realize how it would be in the career world. They both commented on how driven and motivated they felt after the job shadow experience in order to reach for their dreams and to obtain their goals.
Compliments given by Kagiso and Kenny were that our staff are dedicated and gave ample advice.
Aspire Wealth Management wishes Kagiso and Kenny well in their future endeavors.
IN A BUCKET
This is a fun dessert for a beach party themed dinner or as a special treat for a kid’s summer sleepover.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients: (1.5 litres)
800ml full cream milk
400g chocolate mousse powder
12 biscuits, coarsely crushed
100g pink and white marshmallows, chopped
50g lightly toasted sprinkle nuts
• Measure the milk into a bowl
• Sprinkle on the powder and using an electric mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed and beat for 3 minutes
• Gently fold in the remaining ingredients, and freeze for 3 hours until firm enough to scoop ½
Hints and Tips:
• Marshmallows are easiest cut using kitchen scissors dipped briefly in hot water after every few cuts.
• Add 10 ml peppermint essence and 100 g bar of peppermint crisp chocolate to the basic mousse instead of the biscuits, marshmallows and nuts.
• Use this dessert without freezing, as a decadent chocolate mousse served in dessert bowls.
Rock Shandy or G&T for dessert? Yes, this summer your favourite cooling drink can be turned into a refreshing dessert to enjoy after a Braai!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hrs refrigeration
Ingredients: (Serves: 4)
GIN AND TONIC:
1 litre tonic water, heated
60ml white sugar
4 tots gin
1pkt lemon jelly (80g)
275ml boiling water
275ml cold water
1ml Angostura bitters
FOR THE G&T:
• Dissolve the sugar in the heated tonic water
• Stir in the gelatine and lastly the gin
• Strain into 4 attractive glasses and refrigerate
FOR THE ROCK SHANDY:
• Dissolve the jelly powder in boiling water
• Add the cold water
• Stir in the bitters
• Then pour the mixture into tall glasses
• Insert a straw and a few lemon slices as the mixture thickens sufficiently to support them
Hints and Tips:
• Do the same with traditional hot Irish Coffee - Pour in Whisky to the first level mark.
• Combine 30ml gelatine into 1 litre hot, sweet, filter coffee, and pour into Irish coffee glasses up to the coffee level mark. Stir to combine the coffee and Whisky. Refrigerate.
• When firmly set, spoon on the softly whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate powder. Serve with a bowl of mini-chocolates to enjoy with these
• These are not appropriate desserts for children.
by Katie Bryan
Almost everything you see this holiday season will encourage you to spend money. You may feel pressured to buy the “best” gifts or top gift giving from previous years.
I’m here to tell you that you absolutely do not need to blow your budget this holiday season. Let’s make a commitment right here and now to be smart in our spending and keep to our spending and savings plan. Say it with me: “I will not break my budget this holiday season.”
OK, with that out of the way we can now focus on how to make that happen.
First, take a look at your financial situation and the goals you have:
- Focus on what you really want – I’m not talking about gifts or presents here but rather items like a down payment for a house, saving for a child’s education, or building an emergency fund.
- Create a spending and savings plan to reach your goals – Don’t wait until the New Year, after you have spent all that money over the holidays, to make a resolution to get your finances together. Do it now before you start any holiday spending or incur any unnecessary debts so you know exactly how much you can spend.
- Take the America Saves Pledge – Those who make a commitment to themselves and their family to save usually save more than those who don’t. Make your commitment today and get monthly advice and support from America Saves while you save money.
Once you know how much you have to spend, use these tips and ideas to keep spending within your budget:
1. Form gift exchanges – This many not work with all families, but it should definitely work with friends and co-workers. After all, reducing the number of your gifts you have to buy can save you a lot of money.
2. Make homemade gifts – Think bath products, movie night packages, remote holders, drink koozies, and candles.
3. Share a skill – Instead of giving a coupon good for one dog walk or one house cleaning (though those are valuable gifts to give, too!), offer to teach your grandmother or an uncle how to use Twitter or arrange for a special night where you can teach a niece or nephew how to cook a meal.
You don’t have to let this holiday season break the bank. Remember your personal savings goals and get creative with gift giving this year to reduce spending and save money.