Like it or not, day to day life is becoming increasingly expensive, most of us try to analyse our outgoings and come up with a few ways to save a bit of cash each month. That’s what this post is all about... Helping you save money.
Whether it’s cutting down on bills or ditching the morning coffee-grab on the way to work, there are plenty of ways that we can make the most of our salaries in many different zones of our life.
Consider this a financial check-in, where you look carefully at all aspects of your spending as a household, at work, when traveling and when out socialising, and then consider how you could cut down on the monthly outgoings.
Collectively, these savings can really add up!
You may not think that saving R10 a week by switching to a supermarket brand of cereal is going to do you any good, but that R10 soon adds up to R40 a month - around R500 a year. This, combined with your other savings, can maximise your income so you can spend the extra money on those things that really matter - whether that is paying off debts, bolstering savings or spending on a much-needed family holiday… and who wouldn’t want that?
This guide gives you some starting points to consider across 4 key lifestyle areas; Home, Health, Work and Hobbies:
Money saving tips for the home
Whether you rent or have a mortgage on your home, our houses cost us a lot, so looking into ways you can save money at home is going to be one of the most beneficial places for changes that can make a significant saving impact:
- The biggest electricity culprit: Geysers add up to 40 percent of the monthly electricity bill. The easiest way to keep these costs down is to switch off your geyser when you leave the house.
You could also install a geyser blanket - either purchase one or make your own from ''think pink'' material. It's a good plan to isolate the first metre of your existing hot water pipe as well.
By switching off your geyser you can save huge amounts of money usually spent on electricity.
One month's saving of R340 adds up to a lump sum R4080 in a year!
- Look at the times you have your energy switched on: If you have your hot water on throughout the day, consider cutting it back to just a couple of hours in the morning. This can really save energy and lower your monthly bills. Even cutting it by half an hour a day can help!
- Change your lightbulbs: Lighting comprises up to 10 percent of an electricity bill, so by switching to energy-saving light bulbs and turning off lights in unoccupied rooms you can shave off up to R60 per month on an average bill of R600 per month. Low energy bulbs use up to 80% less electricity than standard bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
Changing to energy-saving light bulbs can save you R7200 per year!
- Insulate your home: Insulation is another great way of reducing electricity costs in winter. Get a quote for insulating your home and work out how the initial cost will be recouped in electricity savings over the course of the year.
You could save around 30%-40% of your energy costs by having efficient insulation.
- Unplug appliances: Even when they’re turned off, appliances and electronics on standby draw electricity that can amount to between 10% and 20% of your electricity bill.
Where else you can save 'lights': In winter use electric blankets in preference to a heater in the bedroom. An electric blanket uses only 3 kW.h of electricity a week. A small heater could use up to four times as much.
The stove is one of the heaviest users of electricity. When cooking match pots and pans to plates of equal size. A small pot on a large plate means the heat around the pot is wasted.
- One cup at a time: Every time you boil an overfilled kettle you waste unnecessary energy. Rather boil the kettle once and keep the water hot in a flask. Or at the very least get into the habit of boiling one cup at a time. And lastly, remember that it's always cheaper to use a kettle for boiling water than using a pot on the stove.
- Plan your meals: By writing out which meal you will cook on which night in advance, you negate the need for excessive food purchases each week and only buy what you need. You’ll also avoid grabbing a takeaway on nights when you’re unsure what to cook. And if you're shopping for food items make a grocery list and stick to it!
- Ditch the pricey brands of food: Consider buying generic items rather than branded ones, like painkillers. A packet of 30 branded painkillers costs around R70 in comparison to R40 for the same generic medication. They’re probably made in the same factory, have the same ingredients, and do the same job!
You could save R360 a year, assuming you use a box a month.
- Grow your own: If you can, try growing your own produce - even your own herbs will save money on buying them fresh each week. Homegrown vegetables taste so much better than the processed variety and if you do end up buying, choose your own fresh vegetables over expensive brands. You can always cook them and freeze them for later use.
- Forget the snazzy household cleaners: Use old school methods like bicarbonate of soda or vinegar and lemon juice instead. Make your own detergent for cleaning brassware by mixing a bit of tomato sauce and vinegar. The acidity in both aid the cleaning process. Rub onto brassware with newspaper, then wash with cold water and a bit of dishwashing liquid.
As far as washing dishes goes, the cheaper makes of dishwashing liquid are not always the best, as they are not very concentrated and could cost you more every month.
You could save up to R1500 a year when you stop buying expensive household cleaners.
- Prioritise debts: Don’t put off paying off your loans or credit cards. At the end of each month when you get paid, prioritise these debts so that your interest doesn’t stack up. The sooner you settle your debts, the sooner that more of your money can become your own again.
Money saving tips for better health
Your health is important but you don’t need to spend a lot of money on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Simple cutbacks and clever lifestyle adjustments will see you save money and get healthier without impacting your budget.
- Ditch the takeaways: Think about what you’re going to cook for dinner in the morning so that you don’t come home tired and craving an expensive takeaway. Having a bring and braai with your family is still much more fun, healthier and cheaper than say feeding the whole family at a fancy restaurant. Forget Panarottis and make pizza at home!
Amount you could save: R300 per takeaway/meal out.
- Drink more water: Get used to water as your main source of hydration rather than expensive (and unhealthy) soda drinks.
Amount you could save: R10 per bottle of Cola, R1000 a year assuming you buy 2 bottles of cola a week.
- Gym subscriptions: Consider saving money on the gym and working out at home instead. For a small one-time investment in a few dumbbells, a pull-up bar and a skipping rope, you'll have enough equipment to do all the basic moves to keep your body slim and trim. If you love going to the gym, look into whether there are any cheaper membership packages available. You might find that they have off-peak prices or discounts for being in a certain age bracket.
Amount you could save: R433.39 per month, R5200 a year on average.
- Quit smoking: Ditching the cigarettes could save you so much money in the long run and be very beneficial to your health. Not only will your bank balance look better, but you will feel much healthier as well!
Amount you could save: R36 per pack of cigarettes on average, R3700 a year assuming you buy 2 packs a week and cut out completely.
- Medical expenses: Always ask your doctor if you can get generic equivalent drugs - they're invariably a great deal cheaper. Discuss charges before a consultation and If you're paying cash, ask for a discount. If you're on medical aid, find a doctor who charges the medical scheme rate - which is a lot cheaper than private or SA Medical Association rates.
Money saving tips at work
The workplace can be stressful and busy - so it is all too easy to spend out on expensive indulgences that help take the edge off but make it that much harder to save money at work. Take some time on the weekends to plan your work week in advance and you could see a serious benefit to your pocket.
- Make up your lunches at home: If you think ahead and plan your lunches, you won’t need to buy them in that expensive coffee shop at work. Try making up a big pasta and leave it in the fridge to keep you going for a few days, rather than rushing in the mornings. You could also save money by microwaving your dinner leftovers from the night before.
You could save around R150 a week, R7000 a year, if you buy your lunch every day at work, compared to making your own at home.
- Think about carpool: Can you combine your journey with someone else’s to save on cost? Ask around or advertise on your internal information board to see if there's anyone interested in splitting the cost of travel.
- Get staple work clothing: Rather than keep spending money, take a serious look at your work wardrobe and bring out the staple pieces each day. Depending on your work environment you could ask to wear a uniform which means you don’t need to supply your own clothing each day.
- Don’t feel obliged to go to work socials: If your workmates go out a lot, don’t feel you need to, too. Choose the ones you want to attend of course, but head straight home rather than going to the others.
Money saving tips for your car
A reliable car is a necessity for everyone from the young family on a school run to the hard working professional who commutes, however they can also become a massive black hole for your cash. Follow our tips below to save money on your car and avoid those nasty unexpected bills.
- Drive wisely: Make sure your tire pressure is right. Don’t brake too harshly. Stay within the speed limits. These are all things that can prolong the longevity of your car AND save your fuel costs.
You could save around R3600 a year.
- Cut down to one car: Does your household really need two cars? Consider one of you walking or cycling to work as an alternative to driving the car. You’ll already save 50% of your outgoing car costs.
- Keep it maintained: Keep your car up to a good standard regularly, to avoid any larger bills coming your way in the future. By caring for your car, you’ll keep it in good service for longer.
- Run your car cheaply and wisely: Be sure to check your car's wheel alignment and shock absorbers. You'll be surprised how these can be responsible for your car guzzling extra petrol when they are not in good working order.
- Park in free zones: When you head for the shops, consider where you park. The car park immediately next to the shop could be more expensive than a spot further up the road. Consider walking that extra few metres and saving some money.
- Think before you drive: Always question yourself before getting behind the wheel. Plan every journey, and determine whether it's really necessary to take the car. Public transport like taxis and buses could save you a lot of hassle and not to mention petrol costs if you're not traveling far. Take advantage of the Gautrain if you're traveling to major centres like Sandton and Pretoria.
- Car insurance: Increasing your excess can significantly reduce your premium: agreeing to a R5000 excess on a R60 000 car could slash your premium by 30 percent! Fitting a tracker system in your car will cost you money upfront but you'll also save more on premiums.
Money saving tips for your social and family life
We all need time to relax and have fun with our friends and family, often the thought of saving money in these parts of your life seem particularly difficult as we don't want to negatively impact on our leisure time, but by following our guidelines below you can make smart money saving changes that won't ruin your fun.
- Phone wise: Watch your cell phone bill - messaging your friends whenever possible rather than having lengthy phone calls. Use a landline when possible to call other landlines and try to make personal calls during off-peak hours. Old fashioned as it may seem, card and coin-operated Telkom phones are still useful, and they are nearly 60% cheaper on average than cellphones.
More people are realising it's better to buy your dream smartphone cash and manage your personal airtime spend with prepaid than paying monthly on an expensive contract. You can always sell your old phone later when you want to upgrade.
- WhatsApp: Text chatting is all the rage these days and for good reason. You save tremendous amounts by chatting to stay in touch - it's even way cheaper than SMS. If you have one of those smartphones that takes two sim cards you could use one for calls and the other strictly for data and your WhatsApp.
Check out Cell C's WhatsApp bundle for R7.50 which gives you 1gb for sharing files with your friends and allows you to chat for a whole month.
- Holiday close to home: There’s plenty of places to enjoy close to home, so don’t always feel you need to travel to another country to enjoy a holiday.
- Rent DVDs and avoid the cinema: Cinema costs mount up, so rent a DVD instead and enjoy a date night at home.
You could save R1500 per person a year assuming you go to the cinema twice a month.
- Cut your alcohol consumption (and improve your health at the same time!): According to a new report by the World Health Organisation, South Africa consumed 11.0 litres of pure alcohol in 2010, tipping it as the African country who consumes the most alcohol per capita. South Africans on average spend a lot of money on booze. Don’t be a statistic - cut back on your pricey alcohol and save around R2600 a year, assuming you have 3 beers a week.
- Avoid impulsive shopping: Do you really need that extra pair of shoes, jeans or accessories? Think carefully before you make each impulsive purchase. If it helps you to avoid those situations, don’t go to shopping malls at all.
You could save at least R2500 a year by cutting back on excessive clothing purchases.
- Value vouchers: Register online at onedayonly.co.za and find great shopping deals and discounts. Plus, by registering you'll be sent daily emails outlining the latest offers.
Lots of online shopping sites also offer e-vouchers if you sign up or invite friends to register. Zando.co.za gives you R50 credit when you sign up, and runwaysale.co.za gives you R40 for each friend you've invited once they've placed an order.
- Furniture and electronic appliances: Furniture stores are really hurting right now and if you're in the market for a new recliner, now is the time. Remember that even non-sale items are negotiable. Be honest about your budget and don't merely accept the price tag you see on sale items. Negotiate further and you will be surprised at what you can eventually buy the product for.
When it comes to appliances, you can often get ''shop soiled'' items at a substantial discount. It may have a scratch or a dent that will not affect its performance in any way.
- Shop at flea markets: Flea markets are great places to bargain. The person behind each little store is usually their own boss. They set the price and that means they can change it. Before negotiating you must decide on your bottom line. You need to be clear about two things. First, what you can afford and second, the going price. Shop around to find out what most people are charging for the same item.
- Staying in is the new going out: Consider inviting friends over rather than meeting up in town. You’ll still have fun but you won’t all be spending so much money. There are some great ideas on this post for things you can do with friends without leaving the house - trying having a dance competition, baking, looking back over old photos or dusting off the board games. All you need is good company!
- If you absolutely have to go out: Visit your local museum - there are no fewer than 68 of them in Gauteng alone. They're fascinating and generally free or ridiculously cheap. Plus they make for an excellent educational excursion for the kids.
These are just some of the tips you could try to help make the most of every inch of your salary. Of course, there are plenty more money saving tips out there - try whatever works for you!