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Dont let Christmas bust your budget

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The song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but if money is tight for you, Christmas can make it very difficult to avoid overspending. Although it may seem like a good idea to splurge on that perfect gift, you will end up paying for it later if you put it on your credit card.

Rather than going into credit card debt this year, make a plan and stick to it, so you stay within your budget and avoid the stress that comes with debt.

How to keep your Christmas spending under control
Set an overall budget: Before you spend a penny this Christmas, take a realistic look at your finances and determine how much money you can afford to spend. If you are committed to not going into debt for the holidays, you will need to use the money you have saved during the year.

If you have not saved any, you can set aside part of your December paychecks to cover Christmas expenses. Write down your spending cap and use this number to inform your other decisions.

Allocate money to travel, decorations and holiday meals: You are probably thinking mostly about gifts, but you will likely have expenses during December that might not be a part of your monthly budget.

Determine how much you will need to spend on travel, whether that be on gas or airfare. Then count up what you will spend on decorations, including the tree, wreaths, lights, and table decorations. Lastly, set aside money to buy special foods for Christmas dinner.

Budget for wrapping materials: You do not want to spend all your gift money and realize you have nothing to wrap the presents with. As much as you can, choose low-cost materials like reused gift bags from last year, brown paper grocery bags, fabric scraps, or the Sunday comics.

If you need to buy wrapping paper, choose paper with a low cost per square foot, and get as few rolls as you need. Dress the gifts up with ribbon, which can add lots of pizzazz to a plain wrapping job.

List people to buy gifts for: Divide your remaining holiday spending money between all the people you want to give gifts to this year. In addition to your immediate and extended family, include any friends, co-workers, neighbors, and service people whom you would like to give something to. The small $5 and $10 gifts can add up, so you need to include everybody in your list.

Set a spending limit for each person on your list: Although it is tempting to write down what you want to give to each person, the better way to approach your list is to decide how much you can spend on each person.

This helps ensure that your money is allocated appropriately between people based on how important they are to you. It would be a shame to spend all your money on your kids because they want flashy expensive gifts and forget about your spouse, who deserves something special too.

Shop sales and get creative to stick to your spending limits: This is probably the most challenging part of the process, but it can also be lots of fun, too. Once you have your budget, it is a bit of a puzzle to figure out how to get everybody a gift he or she will enjoy for the amount you can afford to spend.

Get out the holiday sale ads, shop at garage sales or thrift stores or put your skills to work so you can give each person a meaningful gift. If you happen to find the perfect gift for less than you have budgeted, then add the money to another recipient’s budgeted amount.

This will give you room to stretch a bit for something you had your eye on.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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