Hold on tight to that bonus, don’t blow it !

Festive savings campaign urges caution

HOUSEHOLD saving has slowed to a trickle, prompting the SA Savings Institute to launch a festive savings campaign in Johannesburg yesterday.

In the second quarter of this year, household savings were at a negative 0.8 percent.

“That is a big problem,” said Elias Masilela, chairman of the institute.

According to the institute’s last national savings barometer, household saving was at just above 1.5percent of GDP at the beginning of 2006.

“A lot of people think about savings, but they put it at the bottom of their priority list,” said Masilela.

“At the same time, we have seen an increase in debt exposure — South Africans are getting deeper and deeper into debt,” he said.

The institute’s festive spending campaign is intended to reverse dwindling savings levels by making consumers — and their children — aware that they need to hold back on Christmas spending this year.

The Savings Institute and its partners are distributing flyers with tips on how to save during this festive season and elephant banks (like piggy banks) are being given to children at shopping malls, toll gates and other public places to encourage saving and responsible spending.

“We thought it was a good idea to target children, the future leaders of the country, because we think that we have not been very successful in changing the psyche of the South African adult.”

“If you catch them earlier, you are able to change their mindset.”

“Consumers should spend wisely and avoid incurring more debt,” agreed Mpho Thekiso, project manager of debt counselling at the National Credit Regulator.

“Consumers should stay at home this Christmas,” she suggested.

“And remember, it’s the thought that counts, not the rands.”

“Reduce phone calls, instead, send an SMS, or wait until after 8pm,” she added.

“It really starts with a plan,” said Mmakgoshi Phetla-Lekhethe, chief executive of the Savings Institute.

“The messages out there are, ‘Come, spend your money’. We are saying the New Year is ahead and you’re going to have to pay school fees — don’t spend for now.”

The institute has partnered with the department of trade and industry, the Financial Services Board, the Council for Medical Schemes, the National Credit Regulator and provincial offices of consumer affairs to drive the festive savings campaign.

Five tips for saving

  • When you see large and attractive SALE signs, think about the need to SAVE;
  • Make sure that you have budgeted for your expenditure. What is unaffordable should not be bought. You will not know what is affordable until you have a budget;
  • Instead of buying presents, make them. It puts more heart into the spirit of giving;
  • Buy no-name brands — the quality is not very different and is often the same as branded goods;
  • As you spend during this period, think carefully about your financial obligations, such as school fees, for the New Year.