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6 money-saving habits to adopt now!

Food and fuel hikes make it harder for many South Africans to maintain a budget and to save.
Food and fuel hikes make it harder for many South Africans to maintain a budget and to save.
Image: Andriy Poppv

There’s no denying the South African economy has been in a downward spiral for some time. From continual petrol and food price hikes to increases in electricity, water and municipal tariffs, the cost of living is high and we’re feeling the pinch.

In a recent study, short-term insurer Budget Insurance found that increases in food and fuel prices, and unexpected expenses, were the top three threats to South Africans sticking to a budget and saving money. 

“The rising cost of living tends to eat into most people’s disposable income leaving little opportunity to save,” says the company’s Susan Steward.

Steward cautions us to not live beyond our means and to find ways to spend less. To help us make wiser financial decisions, she shared these tips:

1. Avoid paying for services you can get at home

Take a packed lunch to work rather than buy food. One meal at an inexpensive restaurant can cost R120, whereas five homemade chicken sandwiches with cheese, tomato and lettuce would cost about the same. Instead of buying a cappuccino at the cafeteria, make a brew at home and bring it to work in a thermos. Cancel your gym membership and join a running group, exercise at home or join a social sports club.

2. Avoid unnecessary debt

Ditch expensive debt, such as clothing accounts, by getting these paid off. Cut down on buying new clothes. There are plenty of second-hand stores around and you can arrange to swap wardrobe items with your friends and family.

3. Find cheaper alternatives

Consider switching to other, less expensive, online streaming services for your film, TV and music entertainment, for example.

4. Plan your purchases

Keep an eye out for grocery specials and discounts and switch to brands or retailers offering better deals on daily necessities. Ensure you have a shopping list and stick to it. Impulse purchases will quickly eat away your cash.

5. Change your travel habits

Go for cost-effective ways of getting around, such as walking, using public transport or carpooling. Plan your daily travel to avoid making unnecessary car trips and opt for alternative transport to reduce spend on petrol.

6. Make a solid financial plan

Replace casual, gut-feel financial planning with a detailed, systematic approach. By keeping track of where your money goes every month, you can see where saving opportunities exist and decide beforehand what you want to do with any extra cash. Make small changes to your spending habits and never lose hope.