• Andre Wentzel

Top 25 savings tips to win at budget bingo

Numerous variations of ‘Bingo’ have been trending on Instagram stories this year, like ‘apartment Bingo’ – with an assortment of must-haves for millennial’s apartments – and indoor plant ‘Bingo’, because all the cool kids want to tick off that illusive pink-striped ficus. Now, there’s Budget Bingo - the Sanlam bingo game that can save you a few pretty pennies this festive season.

‘Tis the season for overindulgence – and overspending – so avoid the pitfalls of debt and credit shortfalls by calling ‘BINGO’ instead. Share the game with your friends and family and start a challenge to see who can tick off all 25 ways to save the fastest. There’s nothing like a little bit of friendly competition to get the DIY Christmas flair out in full force.

Andre Wentzel, solutions manager at Sanlam Personal Finance says apart from playing Budget Bingo, the best overall way to save is to set a proper festive budget, “It sounds obvious, but few people actually set a realistic budget before the holidays and then stick to it. Without giving this proper thought beforehand, costs can run away with you,” he says.

How much this budget should be depends on your income, your other financial obligations and importantly, your longer-term savings goals. Wentzel adds, “Any bonuses should ideally be invested directly into bonds or to settle debt because the long-term savings will far outstrip the short-term satisfaction of more festive season spend.” Even if investing your bonus isn’t an option, at the very least, it would be wise to keep it for January, which is typically a very long and tough month financially.

So, what are some simple ways to save over the holidays without compromising the festive cheer? Here is a list of 25:


  1. Ask people to bring a plate of food for a shared Christmas feast

  2. Do a Secret Santa gift exchange and set a realistic spend limit

  3. Give homemade gifts like freshly baked cookies

  4. For young kids, source toys from cost-effective stores like the Crazy Store

  5. Make your own (cheap) crackers

  6. Stick to a shopping list

  7. Avoid shopping malls where you might be tempted to spend money

  8. Make your own wrapping paper – even ‘old school’ brown paper can be a creative alternative

  9. Shop the pre-season sales for cheaper gifts

  10. Put money away in November and December for school fees and other big expenses in January

  11. Invest your Christmas bonus or use it for big upcoming expenses in January

  12. For big get-togethers, ask people to bring their own booze

  13. Join a stokvel or festive season savings club

  14. Start a high interest-earning savings account early in the year for Christmas

  15. Buy in bulk or shop online to find the best bargains

  16. Go DIY on the Christmas décor – you’d be amazed what you can do with organic finds like seashells and feathers

  17. Draw up a festive budget and keep track of your spending

  18. Have the turkey without the trimmings: Cut back on extras when you can

  19. Make your own Christmas cards or send e-cards

  20. Give plant cuttings (especially if you’re a millennial)

  21. Leave your credit card at home when you go shopping. Draw cash instead

  22. Give time instead of gifts: E.g. give someone a night of free babysitting

  23. Invest in experiences rather than things: buy family tickets to a show instead of buying things

  24. Book any travel well in advance – prices skyrocket around the festive season

  25. Sell things on Gumtree or the Facebook Marketplace for extra funds


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