Don't dig yourself into a debt hole this X-mas

Christmas is synonymous with giving, and many people go overboard, running into unnecessary debt. [iStockphoto]

Individually, we define our financial situation. This means that the losses, profits, revenues, and income earnings we deal with are directly connected to the decisions we make.

For those who observe Christmas, there are many traditions, but spending time with loved ones is very important.

This year’s festive season is a welcome break from the political tensions that marked the August General Election and tough economic times due to high inflation and drought.

Many Kenyans might not be able to engage in the usual merry-making as they grapple with the financial responsibilities that come with the New Year.  

Christmas is synonymous with giving, and many people go overboard, running into unnecessary debt. The urge to spend can be overwhelming. Inflation is at an all-time high, with basic needs becoming increasingly unaffordable even for the middle class.

The festive season comes with huge discounts, fuelling the urge to spend. It is okay to shop for discounted items but don’t shop until you drop, as they say.

A little planning during the festive season will help you to significantly advance your financial objectives. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spirit of the season, but is the thrill of one month out of the 12 in a year worth risking your finances?

The logical solution is prudent spending. Avoid peer pressure by living within your means, and you will be smiling in January when others are frowning.

Here are a few tips I believe will help you navigate through the next few weeks. Avoid impulsive buying as tempting as the offers may be. The excitement of the festive season is bound to wear off soon enough.

Shopper at a supermarket in Nairobi. Plan for your holiday basket in advance. [File, Standard]

So how about you plan for your holiday basket in advance? Now is the time to consolidate efforts to secure the future, and you can only do that if you set the right financial goals and strive to achieve them.

Avoid unnecessary loans this festive season, with interest rates not likely to fall any time soon. Buy only what you need and can comfortably afford.

Travelling upcountry or for a holiday is not a must. Whilst this is the tradition amongst many Kenyans, we need to think it through given the current economic situation.

Make a choice between spending exorbitant amounts on bus fare or fuel and staying in the city and sending your family back the money to do their own shopping.

There are many other holidays throughout the year, and you could choose to travel upcountry or for that family holiday when it is less taxing. Overspending during this season could get you into a financial mess that will take you months to recover.  

Stop keeping up with the Jonases, you will fall into unnecessary debt. The advent of social media has made this worse because we are constantly surrounded by people who seem to have their ducks in a row.

They have the latest fashion and are always partying or travelling, leading to peer pressure.

Social media is a fallacy that should not tempt you into matching up to any standards. It’s easy to forget that other people are just showing off the best moments of their lives.

Do not lose sight of the fact that everyone has their own problems, which they will not showcase on social media.

A Savior mentality is an admirable strength, but it can also be a path to financial ruin. The need to always solve other people’s problems at your expense is a habit we need to unlearn.

If you want to come to everyone’s rescue, you also must learn how to live a little.

While this season comes with a lot of expectations, it all boils down to how well you maintain your focus.

If you want to be debt-free, you have to focus on your own goals and stop living by other people’s standards.