FINANCE Minister Pravin Gordhan's first budget address last week can be summarised as doing more with less. The budget focused on financial relief mostly for low-income earners, while middle- andhigh-income earners also enjoyed some tax relief.

The budget allocated R89,5billion across various social welfare grants, including old-age pension grants (R34,1billion), child support grants (R30,9billion), disability grants (R17,4billion) and R7,1billion for foster care, care dependency and war veterans' grants, among others.

About 14 million citizens now rely on some form of social grant to survive, and welfare recipients outnumber taxpayers by more than three to one.

It was a balancing act to not overburden the one-third of taxpayers by too many tax increases but still alleviate government debt while sustaining economic growth through some tax concessions.

Motorists will have to fork out more money to fill their tanks with the fuel levy increasing by 25,5cents a litre on April 6.

Buying a new car will also cost you more with a new tax that will be levied on carbon emissions on new passenger vehicles with effect from September 1.

The main objective of the tax is to influence consumers to buy cars that are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

This will consequently affect inflation and ultimately the buying power of the rand.

Increases in "sin" tax will have cigarette and alcohol consumers paying more for a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of wine.

But it is not just disappointing news as the finance minister also offered some tax relief for South Africans.

Personal income tax relief for low-income earners will give them some extra cash, which will assist those who have persevered with their savings despite tougher economic decisions.

Those whose savings include interest income will also enjoy further tax relief.

The Old Mutual Savings Monitor research showed that South Africa remains a country with low savingslevels.

The savings from personal income tax and the increased tax concession on interest income should serve as encouragement to consumers to start saving after settling debt.

So if you take the personal income tax that you are saving and you invest it, over time you will increase its value many times over.

For example:

l If you earn R120000 a year you will have an extra R504 a year. When you invest that for five years you will have R3385, or R8836 over 10 years (assuming 10percent per annum returns).

l Someone earning R250000 a year will have an extra R1614. If you invest that for five years you will have R10839, or over 10 years and you have R28295 (assuming 10percent per annum returns).

l If you earn R500000 a year you will have an extra R2994 - invest that for five years and you have R20107, or over 10 years and you have R52488 (assuming 10percent per annum returns).

Further good news is that the allowable income tax deduction for contributions to a medical scheme has increased.

The deduction for the first two dependants on the medical scheme will be R670 each a month or R8040 each per annum on contributions. Each additional dependant will qualify for a deduction on contributions of R410 a month or R4920 per annum.

First-time job-seekers can look forward to more employment opportunities as job creation is encouraged by a wage subsidy offered tocompanies.

This will also allow first- time job-seekers to earn a salary, gain employment experience and contribute towards a better economy.

"Speak to your financial adviser who will help you to make the most of the available tax concessions as part of a holistic financial plan that will help you live within your means today while also providing for your future," says Ralph Mupita of Old Mutual.

l To air your views on the budget , visit www.my10cents.co.za and win an Apple iPad. The competition closes tomorrow.