As the Christmas spirit envelops the air with joy and festivity, the true cost of the season becomes evident. Navigating the delicate balance between holiday cheer and financial responsibility requires thoughtful planning, especially in a world grappling with economic uncertainties.

A recent local study conducted at the Coronation Market in Kingston, Jamaica, revealed a steady increase in prices for certain food items, adding an extra layer of challenge for individuals in the capital city. Reports from various corners of the island indicate similar price surges, a fallout from a staggering $300 million loss in agriculture due to heavy rains in November.

Against this backdrop, loved ones gearing up for a season of giving and celebration are faced with the question of how to best manage their budgets. Carlton Stewart, a financial coach and host of “Let’s Talk Money” on CVM TV, emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the details. Stewart advises restraint during holiday shopping, urging individuals not to reach beyond their financial means.

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) has also weighed in on the financial landscape, indicating comfort with the current level of household debt on the island. On December 19, the BOJ projected that almost $300 billion will be in circulation by the end of the year, marking a significant 21% increase from the previous year.

Amidst the allure of seasonal sales and tempting offers, Stewart proposes a smart holiday spending strategy. Acknowledging the potential for reckless expenditures during this time, he emphasizes the need for financial prudence. “Be smart this holiday season,” Stewart advises, reminding everyone that the December paycheck must stretch to cover expenses well into January.

As individuals embark on their festive journey, the reminder to balance joy with financial wisdom echoes through the corridors of celebration. Navigating the real cost of Christmas requires a strategic approach, and with thoughtful planning, individuals can ensure that the joy of the season extends well into the new year without leaving a financial hangover.

Reporter: Ramon Gordon

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