WHILE it‘s a symbolic fresh start for some, January is traditionally also a time when the financial hangover is at its worst for many.
Rhodes University psychology Professor David Edwards says more often than not, people find themselves in financial difficulty at this time of the year.
January‘s money woes are compounded by the typical over-indulgences of the Christmas period – many families have gone into debt by forking out for gifts, going on holiday and entertaining.
To make matters worse, January brings the reality of having to pay school and university fees and buy stationery and uniforms.
Last year‘s credit crunch is lingering while some families – such as those employed in the beleagured motor industry – have been forced to spend more time on holiday with less pay.
A snap survey by Weekend Post revealed many Eastern and Southern Cape residents were feeling the pressure – but the current economic climate had also forced them to be more budget-savvy.
Government employee Belinda Buck, from Bethelsdorp in Port Elizabeth, said January was “a stressful month for me. We got our December salaries at the end of November already (and) before it was even Christmas, you noticed that your pockets were empty”.
But she had been disciplined enough to set aside money for school expenses for her child.
Melany Bellingam, a Uitenhage sales consultant, said her family always overspent over the festive season. She was worried about money “because I have to buy school- clothes for my daughter and son”.
“The first two quarters of the year are definitely going to be tough. However, I did my level best to pay off my debts (at the end of last year). I‘m starting the year with a clean slate.”
Unemployed Harish Chavda, from Uitenhage, said because of festive- season expenses he‘d have to “take out a loan to pay my son‘s college fees”.
Single mom Patricia Roos, of East London, said her “biggest financial outlay” this month was high water and electricity bills. However, Roos, said: “I don‘t mind paying for school fees and stationery because education is the future for our kids.”
Back in Port Elizabeth, self-employed Themba Mosi, of Central, said past experience had made him “cautious” of how he spent his money. “I started 2008 on shaky ground because I didn‘t budget very well. That taught me a lesson … you‘re skating on thin ice if you don‘t budget.”
Mosi said he‘d already bought uniforms and other school necessities for his two daughters, adding: “I decided to do everything in advance for this year. I didn‘t go anywhere during the festive season … I stayed in PE and saved money”.
Angie Hewu, a stock controller from Zwide, Port Elizabeth, said: “I always plan ahead for January because I know things get hectic with finances.”
Forest Hill security officer Qondiswa Kalipa said she‘d countered festive-season overspending by buying her children‘s school clothes, stationery and other necessities early in December when they were more affordable.
Felicia Young, who moved to Knysna eight months ago from Humansdorp, said: “With the high food prices it really is a headache. We have a baby and a 12-year-old daughter. It is better with the petrol prices (coming down), but food is still so expensive.”
Peggy Dlephu, an artist living in Knysna, said January was a battle.
“I don‘t have children but I‘m responsible for a child whose father died. I pay for everything because the mother can‘t afford it.”
source Weekend Post