How to budget for life’s big moments – from travel to matric dances and weddings

You want to celebrate life’s big moments and go on adventures, but when you add up the costs involved, it’s easy to start feeling completely overwhelmed. We hear you. It can seem like only those with champagne budgets can afford to have vacations, weddings, and matric dances. But don’t despair – there’s also a way to do it when your budget is Grapetizer-sized!

We’re ditching the recycled tips and giving you some unique strategies that will not only help with the practical side of things but also crack the code on budgeting decisions, dipping into a little of the psychology of spending.

What do you really want?

Always a good question to start with.

When you start panicking about how you can afford a fancy limo, 5-course meals, and a first-class ticket, it can be handy to ask yourself what your true desire behind that purchase would be and take a deeper look at how to satisfy that underlying need. Using the (overpriced) family florist for flowers could be about getting your in-laws’ approval. Buying pricey luggage might be about a fear of the unknown and (literally) packing to be prepared.

Instead, take a stand amidst social pressure and go with what YOU feel comfortable with. You’ll be respected for being strong in your own beliefs. And when venturing into the unknown, know you can handle anything life throws your way.

A little tech goes a long way

As the old adage goes, ‘there’s an app for that’. And now an AI tool, too. Here are our top picks.

For travel:

  • The Tripcoin app logs your daily expenses, so you know exactly when to stop rolling out your rands.
  • Splitwise is an excellent app for group or duo travel – it tracks bills and shared expenses and splits everything equally. (It can also be for everyday life, e.g. splitting household expenses.)
  • is an AI tool that helps you craft adventures tailored to your budget.

For occasions:

A word of warning – many wedding apps push unnecessary purchases and focus on US-centric features. Using a general budgeting tool, like the Goodbudget app, may be a better option.

Meta AI, Gemini, and ChatGPT are good resources for brainstorming ideas. Simply dive right in with questions like:

  • How do I stick to my wedding budget?
  • How do I know if a tourist attraction is worth paying for?
  • What kind of questions should I be asking about occasion budgeting?
  • How do I manage expenses for my child’s matric dance?

NB: Be wary of tech money apps and AI tools that ask you to share your banking login details, have expensive subscriptions, could potentially be scams, etc. Check independent reviews and make sure the tools/apps are suitable for your country. Also, always fact-check info from AI tools, as they’re known to ‘hallucinate’.

Think outside the box

Get creative and savvy. Here are a few BON out-the-box hacks:

  • There are amazing organisations that can help you out, like Dress It Forward, which donates outfits to matriculants.
  • You don’t have to shop for a wedding outfit at a bridal boutique. Try local designers (e.g. Lunar or Leigh Shubert) or vintage shops. It will be more unique, especially if you style it your way. Think white power suits à la Solange Knowles or vintage tutus with white shirts à la Sex and the City’s Carrie!
  • Look out for deals and specials – BON Hotels has travel and event offers every month that can save you a pretty penny.

Speak your truth

It’s time to break free from the stigma of speaking your truth when it comes to your financial limits. It’s okay to say no, to admit you can’t afford something, and to ask for help. Whether it’s a Matric dance ticket, a wedding expense, or a travel upgrade, don’t be afraid to set boundaries and prioritise your financial well-being.

Remember, schools, vendors, and even hotels like BON Hotels are often willing to work with you and offer support if you ask. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses or succumb to upsells that can lead to debt. Your truth is valid, and speaking it will set you free. So, take a deep breath, be honest, and trust that you’ll find (BON!) allies who’ll support you every step of the way.

The takeaway

Indulge us for a moment – think of three of the happiest moments in your life. Picturing them? Good. Now, ask yourself how much those moments cost. Were they about the things, or were they about the people, about feeling special, and about feeling loved and a sense of belonging?

At BON Hotels, we understand that travel and events are all about authentic experiences. That’s why we offer exceptional value and a touch of South African warmth, ensuring your celebrations sparkle without breaking the bank.

So, are you ready to create life’s most unforgettable moments? Let BON Hotels help you make it happen!

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