Spend Wisely Campaign 2019
The festive season is a time of giving, but unfortunately also a time of reckless overspending. The Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector, together with other provinces and the national regulators have decided to conduct a pro-active and positive campaign to raise awareness amongst consumers about the advantages of spending wisely during this period
We all know the festive season is intended to be one of enjoyment and tranquillity. However, coupled with this, consumers usually overindulge in several ways. With this campaign, the OCP would like to ensure that consumers do not overindulge as far as spending is concerned during the festive period.
The aim of this campaign is not to take the joy of giving away from this season, but to create mass awareness amongst consumers about the pitfalls of overspending and debt during the festive season.
This campaign will go a long way in making consumers think twice before deciding to buy goods that they may not need. We all need to adjust our budgets and try and live within our means especially during this challenging economic period. So, let’s keep our credit cards safely in our wallets and purses and start saving some of our hard-earned cash.
Savings Tips for the 2021 Festive Season:
- Create a budget: Track your spending and income so you have an accurate picture of your financial situation. Save receipts or write down your purchases in a notebook as you make them. Review your bills each month and add those expenses to your budget.
- Organize your purchases by category (food, clothing, entertainment, etc.). Categories with the highest monthly amounts (or monthly amounts you consider surprisingly high) may be good targets for saving money.
- Once you've tracked your purchases for a while, create a monthly (or weekly) limit for each category. Make sure the total budget is smaller than your income for that period, with enough left over for savings if possible.
- Plan your purchases:
- Making spur-of-the-moment decisions can balloon your expenditures. Write down what you need to buy before you go shopping.
- Avoid impulse purchases: If planning your purchases is a good idea, buying something on the spur of the moment is a terrible one. Follow these tips to avoid making shopping decisions for the wrong reasons:
- Don't browse store windows or shop for fun. If you're only buying something because you find the act of shopping fun, you'll likely end up spending too much on stuff you don't need.
- Don't make purchasing decisions when your judgment is impaired. Alcohol or sleep deprivation can harm your ability to make sensible decisions. Even shopping while hungry or listening to loud music can be a bad idea if you don't stick to your shopping list.
- Shop alone: Children, friends who love shopping, or even just a friend whose tastes you respect, can influence you to spend extra money.
- Do not take advice from store employees. If you need a question answered, politely listen to their response but ignore any advice on purchasing decisions. If they won't leave you alone, leave the store and return later to make your decision.
- Pay in full and in cash: Credit and debit cards increase spending for two reasons: you have much more money available to spend than you normally would, and because no visible money is changing hands, it doesn't register as a "real" purchase.
- Don't bring more cash with you than you need. If you don't have the extra money, you can't spend it. Similarly, withdraw your weekly budget from an ATM once a week rather than filling up your wallet whenever you run out.
- Don't be fooled by marketing: Be vigilant and try to be aware of all the reasons you're drawn to a product.
- Don't buy something based on an advertisement. They are designed to encourage you to spend money and will not provide an accurate portrayal of your options.
- Be aware of pricing tricks. Translate that “R999" price into “R1000". Judge the price of an item on its own merits.
- Wait for sales and discounts: If you know you'll need a particular item but don't need it today, wait until it ends up in the bargain bin.
- Only buy items on sale that you need. The attraction of a cheaper price is an easy way to get customers to buy something they don't need.
- Buy products only useful at times of the year, during the off-season. A winter coat should be cheap during summer weather.
- Do your research:
- Before making expensive purchases, shop around for the best deal. Find the product within your budget that will last the longest and meet your needs best.
- Take all the costs into account: You'll end up paying a lot more than the sticker price for many big-ticket items. Read all the fine print and add up the total amount before making your decision.
- Don't be fooled by lower monthly payments. Calculate the total amount you'll spend (monthly payments x number of months until fully paid) to find out what the cheapest option is.
- If you're taking out a loan, calculate how much total interest you'll have to pay.
- Give yourself occasional, inexpensive treats: This may sound foolish (isn't this buying something you don't need?) but in fact, it's easier to maintain your spending goals if you give yourself the occasional reward. Try to go cold turkey on unnecessary spending and you may eventually "crack" and splurge much more than you should.
- Set aside a very limited amount of money in your budget for these treats. The goal is to give yourself a small reward to keep your spirits up and prevent a giant splurge later.
Beware of accommodation scams!
Vacation rental scam stories are all over the internet. The scenario usually involves a fake listing, a request for payment by EFT and after you paid, an end to communication from the property “owner.” When the dust settles, your money is gone and you have no place to stay.
Here are 5 tips that can help you detect and avoid holiday rental scammers.
Good Deal, or Too Good to be True
“If it looks too good to be true, it is.” This old saying is applicable in many situations, and you should keep it in mind when researching vacation rentals. While vacation rental prices vary based on factors such as number of rooms, amenities and location, you should be wary of any apartment of cottage that is offered at a discount. Always check rental prices for several properties in the neighbourhood you would like to stay in so that you have a good understanding of the going rates for that area.
Consider the Website’s Payment Methods and Security Policies
The safest way to pay for your vacation rental is by credit card. Regardless of where you live, credit cards offer more consumer protection than any other payment method. If there is a problem with your rental, or if you are the victim of a vacation rental scam, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company and have them taken off your bill until the matter is investigated.
Verify that the Property Exists
Use Google Maps or another mapping application to verify that the cottage or apartment you want to rent, actually exists.
Scammers have been known to use false addresses or to use addresses of actual buildings that turned out to be warehouses, offices or vacant lots. If you know someone who lives near the apartment of cottage, ask them to look at the property for you.
Conduct Online Searches
Before paying a deposit, do some research on your chosen property and its owner. Conduct an online search for the owner’s name, the property address, and images of the property, and if possible, who owns the rental website and who pays the property taxes. If you notice any discrepancies, or if you find the same advertising text or photos posted by two different owners, think twice about renting the property, especially if you have been asked to pay the rent in full by EFT or a similar method.
Rent Known Properties
If possible, rent a cottage or apartment that someone you know has already stayed in. You will be able to ask the previous renter about payment methods, rental policies and any other concerns you might have. As you begin to plan your trip, ask family members and friends if they know of available rental properties in the places you would like to visit.
Organisations and Consumers who would like to request Consumer Awareness and Financial Literacy workshops can contact the Office of the Consumer Protector on 021 483 9282 and speak to Mr Phenias Ncube.