30/10/2017 15:00 SAST | Updated 30/10/2017 15:00 SAST

Don't Spend Your 13th Cheque Before It Even Arrives

"Janu-worry will only end if we are disciplined before and during December."

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Receiving any extra money is always a good thing and it gets even better if it comes in the form of a 13th cheque or a December bonus.

However, the festive season is known to be a time when even the more financially savvy among us tend to overspend, but it doesn't have to be that way.

"Janu-worry will only end if we are disciplined before and during December," said debt counsellor, Stephen Mulima.

"Many South Africans are in over their heads with debt and if we are not responsible when we get extra money, then we won't solve the problem of debt."

He gives his top three tips to wisely spend the additional money -- for the lucky ones who receive it.

1. Don't spend it now, before it even comes

Mulima cautioned that some consumers buy things on credit now -- in the hope that they will recover these through their 13th cheque or their December bonus.

"The truth is there are always competing priorities. December comes, then other things seem to be more important," he explained to HuffPost SA. When this happens, a consumer cannot "repay" the things they promised themselves to and end up in more debt come the new year.

Mulima advises that people budget for the money and wait until they receive it, before spending it.

2. Prioritise debt

He advised that a portion of the 13th cheque or bonus be used to service debt.

"If you are under financial pressure or are late with paying back some creditors, use some of the additional money to relieve yourself financially. In this way you'll get through December and into the new year with a lighter load of debt."

Mulima said consumers must ask themselves what is more important, "having nice times while in debt" or "having peace in less debt."

3. Immediately save a portion of the money

The debt counsellor said people overspend in December without having adequately planned for January expenses such as school uniform, stationery, petrol and food to last through the month. "We see this year after year."

This leaves them susceptible to borrowing and getting further into debt to cover these expenses.

"If it means opening an account to save a portion of the money, or joining a saving scheme that pays out only in January, do that," he advised.

"There are always temptations but good money habits require discipline."

Don't forget to enjoy yourself

"It's money you have worked hard for and it is the festive season, so don't forget to enjoy it, only be responsible," said Mulima.