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PERSONAL expenses are usually classified as discretionary because they are generally quite flexible. And as such, we tend to overlook their importance when it comes to budgeting and saving money.
This is the category that most people keep the least track of because they really do not want to know how much money they are wasting. Here are some tips for lowering personal expenses in three areas: clothing and appearance; communications and cell phones and funeral arrangements.
Clothing and appearance
Buy clothing from stores that are reasonably priced, such as name-brand stores and factory outlets. Steer clear of branded clothing.
Also, buy during the off-season. This is especially great for children's clothes because you know they generally go up one size each year. Plan ahead and budget for this.
Buy less cost-related clothing. Choose fabrics and designs that are easy both to wear and maintain. Watch out for "Dry Clean Only" and instead choose garments that you can care for at home.
Cut back on make-up and perfumes. Or buy during sales or buy generic brands.
Most people will not notice the difference.
Donate your old clothes and shoes to charitable organisations.
Instead of calling, use e-mail. It is free (if you already have an Internet connection) and you will save money on long-distance phone bills.
Write a letter. Postage is relatively cheap and writing letters will help you improve your writing and communication skills.
Keep track of your cellphone calling minutes. Cellphone rates are very high in South Africa. If you are on a contract and consistently exceed your minutes, look for a cheaper contract.
Shop around for cellphone contracts. Cellphone companies and plans vary widely, so take your time and compare.
Now you can even take your cell number with you if you switch providers. Before switching from your current company, call them and tell them and see if they will match or beat their competitor's offer.
Make your wishes known about your funeral, memorial or burial arrangements in writing. Do not leave this decision to the ones you leave behind.
Before selecting a funeral policy, call several companies and ask for prices of specific goods and services. Better still, visit them to obtain an itemised price list.
You are entitled to this information and by using it to compare prices, you can save hundreds of rands. Do not be intimidated into buying a funeral policy that you are not happy with.
Many funeral homes offer prepaid plans, but be cautious about prepaying because there might be risks involved. Check out funeral policies. For information about the least-costly options, which could save you several thousand rands, consult your local Yellow Pages under funeral services.
Keep your discretionary spending in check by modifying your spending habits. Evaluate your apparel and communications spending and see how you can improve.
Jot down your wishes concerning your future memorial service or funeral and keep them with your will.
Eliminate those extra rands that just disappear each month and put them to good use, such as paying off your bond or debt or by investing the money. Follow this advice and soon you will be on your way to a healthier financial you.