Six simple ways to cut spending today and save money for tomorrow

By taking a few practical steps, your finances could look significantly healthier at the end of the year

13 April 2022 - 09:19
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Monitor your unnecessary purchases for a period and calculate how much this will cost you in a year. You might be surprised to see how much you could save if you sacrificed those luxuries.
Image: Supplied/Standard Bank Monitor your unnecessary purchases for a period and calculate how much this will cost you in a year. You might be surprised to see how much you could save if you sacrificed those luxuries.

The first quarter of the year presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on your spending patterns from the previous year and think about what you’d like to do with your money in the months to come. 

You might want to save and invest to realise your goals, but you may not have enough money to act on your intentions. You’d be surprised at how much money you could save if you cut back on spending on what you want, rather than what you need in your life. 

“A good place to start is to look at where most of your discretionary spend went in 2021,” advises Zanele Mbere, head of client solutions individuals SA at Standard Bank. 

“How many times did you hand over R30 or so for takeaway coffee in a month, or over six months? It may seem insignificant at the time, but if you’re buying coffee frequently, it adds up at the end of the day. Monitor your unnecessary purchases for a period and calculate how much this will cost you in a year. You might be surprised to see just how much you’re spending and, more importantly, how much you could save if you sacrificed those luxuries.” 

Mbere suggests six ways to make more money available for saving, investing and spending where it counts. These ways will help you place money towards bringing your long-held goals and dreams to life.

1. Be energy efficient at home 

Your electricity and gas bills are likely to have increased in 2021 due to the rise in electricity tariffs, resulting in a bigger drain on your finances. You can reduce your electricity and gas use by being more efficient. Are your outside lights burning brightly during the day, or are your household members wasting gas by having long, hot showers in summer?

When it comes to the pool — is the pump running around the clock or working during daytime when electricity costs more? By taking a few practical steps to reduce your daily energy consumption at home, you can save an extra few hundred rand each quarter.

2. Cut out the takeaway coffee

If you’re in the habit of buying a cuppa during the weekdays or on weekends, it could cost you about R5,000 a year. By opting to be your own barista, you could make those cups of coffee at home for under R1,000. That is a huge saving of R4,000 for the year. 

3. Swap takeout food for home-cooked meals

Regular takeaway food can quickly run up your monthly food bill. An average meal for one person costs R100, whereas you could easily prepare a meal at home for four people for the same amount. If you eat out twice a week and reduce this to once a week, you could save about R4,000 for the year.

4. Kick the habit

Smokers or vapours may be shocked at how much their habit set them back in the past year. Doing the calculations may motivate you to kick the habit in 2022. If the R40 a day for a box of cigarettes has always been built into your budget, rather put it into a savings account. You will end up saving between R13,000 and R16,000 a year.

5. Shop for second-hand clothing

When reviewing their 2021 spend, fashion lovers might find a substantial amount of their hard-earned cash went to clothes. If you want to cut back on your clothing spend and still update your wardrobe with a few pieces each month, consider shopping for preloved clothing.

The second-hand clothing market has recently experienced a boom, with various platforms that offer contemporary items at a fraction of the in-store price tag. You may want to sell some of your own clothing to make space for your new outfits. A good rule to adopt is, sell one of your own items before purchasing another. 

6. Take advantage of rewards programmes 

How many rewards points do you collect a year by swiping your card to pay for goods and services? Let those points accumulate throughout the year as you make purchases, and transfer what you have earned into a savings vehicle.

Applying these simple changes could make your finances look significantly healthier at the end of the year. You will have an extra R20,000 to R30,000 of disposable income to save, invest or use for that long-awaited holiday. Why not act now? If you make some changes to your lifestyle, you can start realising your financial goals in 2022. 

This article was paid for by Standard Bank.