With such few opportunities to indulge in social activities during 2020, due to the restrictions and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a temptation among some Jamaicans this year to ‘live a little’ this Christmas and treat themselves and their loved ones.
However, Garfield Goulbourne, relationship manager at JN Bank, is advising persons to balance that need for interaction and treats with thrift, and avoid blowing their December salary on Christmas gifts and other holiday expenses, considering the continued economic uncertainties.
Mr Goulbourne is instead encouraging Jamaicans to save or invest their pay cheque, bonuses and any additional income they might receive this festive season, in order to better prepare for the New Year.
“With all that is happening across the globe, because of COVID-19, including job losses and pay cuts, this year is certainly not the time to make carefree spending choices, such as using an entire pay cheque on fun and festivities,” he said.
“I understand that it has been a rough year and many of us want to enjoy ourselves and unwind a little, but I must warn against going overboard. The sacrifices you make and the restraint you exercise will be worth it in the long run, and will set you up well for 2021, and years to come,” Mr Goulbourne added.
He further noted that many people will be getting paid early this month, as they prepare for the holidays, and as such, they should remember that the funds will have to stretch for much longer than usual.
Mr Goulbourne, who is an ambassador for the JN BeWi$e financial empowerment programme, managed by the JN Foundation, warned that January expenses need to be considered before money is spent over the holiday period.
He said early December payments should not be spent before creating a budget.
“Budgeting starts with knowing how much you have to spend without using credit cards and heading into the red. It’s as simple as that. Forward planning is one of the ways that you can reduce the financial burden of Christmas. Once you have your budget, stick to it and you shouldn’t have any debt going into the new year,” he said.
Mr Goulbourne advised that a few questions people should bear in mind before spending their December salary include:
- Have you set aside money for January expenses, including school fees?
- Is your car registration and insurance up to date?
- Am I up to date with my billers and creditors?
- Have I thought seriously about health insurance and other medical expenses in case I fall ill?
- Do I have enough funds in my account in case there is a major emergency?
He noted that these considerations must be prioritised over holiday shopping.
Mr Goulbourne also had some advice for the fortunate few who will receive Christmas bonuses from their employers, this year.
“This year is the year to make your Christmas bonus count. Save it or invest it if you can, but if you must spend it, do so wisely,” he said.
“A few of the ways you can make the most of your Christmas bonus is to use it to pay off debt, boost your emergency fund, or add it to your retirement savings,” Mr Goulbourne said.