After 18 months of close confinement, pandemic fatigue is conspiring with the usual end-of-year fatigue that starts setting in round about now. The result is a heavy combination that could prove doubly dangerous to consumers who have up to now kept their financial affairs together in these most trying of times.
As we near the festive season, the temptation to break free from budgets and splurge may be strong, especially with retailers outdoing themselves to attract shoppers and tantalising tourist destinations beckoning as borders reopen.
Letting go of budgets during the festive season is a well-known phenomenon, which becomes evident every January. When the new year dawns, it invariably brings shocking statistics of rising South African indebtedness, and tales of the burdens and regrets of spending decisions made in haste.
Fatigue can do that to a person, and the age of smartphones and online shopping has made it even easier to spend more than we should. By the same token, online and digital tools can be a careful consumer’s best friend.
Saved in the nick of time
Take the digital authorisation settings on your banking app – setting a low amount for daily payments and transfers could pay off handsomely in a situation where the temptation to spend rears its ugly head.
Picture the scene: you are busy making an online purchase that you know you shouldn’t, really, but cannot resist. You press ‘Pay’ on your app, only to receive an instant notification that the transaction amount exceeds your daily limit.
You could, of course, go ahead and change your settings to increase your daily limit, but the interruption could be just what you need to cool off your enthusiasm for the item you were buying. Saved in the nick of time!
Impulse buying is not the only budget-busting behaviour to look out for in the festive season. Dining out and entertainment are two other items that many people tend to overindulge in. As many of us were starved of these experiences during the stringent phases of the lockdown, it might be tempting to make up for lost time. And with so much going on at this time of year, it can be all too easy to lose track of how much you are spending and on what, particularly if you have accounts with multiple financial institutions. For instance, you may have a credit card with one bank, a transactional account with another and savings and investment accounts at other institutions, locally and possibly even abroad.
Single view across multiple service providers
What is needed is a full view of your financial position from a single vantage point, at any given time. A useful tool for this is Standard Bank’s My360 app, which was recognised at the sixth annual Benzinga Global Fintech Awards in December 2020, in the Most Innovative International Fintech category.
Downloadable from the Apple Store or Google Play, My360 is simplicity itself to use. After setting up a My360 profile, users can start linking all their accounts, which could be with Standard Bank or any other financial institution. On one versatile dashboard, the user is then able to see the complete picture of their finances, including houses, cars, pension or retirement funds, other assets, insurance cover as well as investments.
Something else to watch out for at this time of year, when more buying and selling is going on, is financial charges. There are significant savings to be made by using an account such as the newly launched Shari’ah Personal Call Account of Standard Bank, which has zero monthly fees and zero penalties when the account holder wants immediate access to the funds.
While this may be a Shari’ah compliant product, it is available to anyone who wants to bank differently as the values that underpin this philosophy of banking is something that resonates with many.
Doing things differently is a good way to approach the end of the year, knowing that when you come out on the other side, rested and invigorated, your finances will be in good shape too.