South Africans can use many inventive ways to save money – from joining a stokvel to managing data expenses, we provide some great suggestions.
Join a stokvel
A ‘stokvel’ is a saving scheme or club in South Africa, where members (usually up to 12) will each contribute money towards one single fund on a regular basis, which can be daily, weekly, or monthly.
The term ‘stokvel’ refers to both the fund where money is deposited and later paid out, as well as the group of people saving money themselves. Stokvels, generally write out the rules of how they intend to organise the management of their funds – meaning that every stokvel can perform differently as a savings scheme or an investment.
However, stokvels usually work on the principle that each member contributes a fixed amount of cash in a regular interval (such as a week), and within another interval (such as a month), a different member will receive a payout of all the funds collected. After being paid out, the member in question is then free to use their received funds as they please.
Some stokvels will host rotating dinner parties, while others are designed to let members invest their funds or spend as they please.
Stokvels can be an incredibly useful way to save, or start your own investment portfolio. Peer pressure between members can help keep everyone accountable in contributing towards the funds, and by using their payouts, members can get a head start on using their money towards their own goals.
For example, by using the payout from a stokvel, you could open a new savings account or investment with higher interest rates than you might otherwise by using a larger opening deposit instead of depositing smaller amounts every month. Furthermore, timing when you are paid out can also assist in managing emergencies or other planned expenses, such as purchasing gifts over the festive season.
Use reward programmes
Nearly all major South African retailers and banks have launched their own reward programmes – if you regularly shop at a certain store or use one bank account consistently, you can save, earn points, or otherwise buy items at discount.
Many South African banks will offer their own rewards programmes, which will reward you with ‘points’ as you purchase items on one account – usually with either a debit or credit card. By saving points, which are redeemable as either vouchers or at certain stores , you can either purchase new items at a discount or altogether use those same points to buy something outright. By using rewards points, you can actually make your saving work for you.
Many grocery retailers now also use reward programmes, which will similarly give you points when you either shop at one particular store or an associated franchise. Enrolling in these programmes is especially useful if you find yourself regularly visiting one store instead of shopping around.
Grow your own food or manage grocery spending
If you’re able to, growing your own food can be an excellent way to spend less at your local grocery store – and luckily, South Africa has one of the best climates to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
By using a portion of your home garden, you can cultivate your own supply of ‘greens’ that you might otherwise purchase regularly - and besides the satisfaction of growing your own produce, you’ll also find that when managed responsibly, using your own water, compost, soil, and time to manage your garden, will be more affordable than purchasing the equivalent groceries from your local store.
If you live in an apartment or don’t otherwise have the ground or space for a garden, you could also look at creating a ‘hanging’ or ‘vertical’ garden mounted to a wall, where your own produce can grow in a space-saving manner.
If growing your own produce isn’t for you, you can instead opt to manage your grocery spending – buying bulk and storing your goods responsibly can help them last longer – avoiding the need to buy the same goods more often than you need to.
Use renewable energy or reduce spending on electricity
In South Africa, we’re lucky to be exposed to the sun for most of the year. A great way to save money can be to use renewable energy!
You can choose to use the heat and light of the sun to power your geyser by connecting a solar panel; and although the initial setup of this might be expensive, you can save over time by using solar power to warm your geyser instead of power delivered through a mains connection. Considering your geyser is likely the biggest electricity expense in your home – on average, accounting for up to 40% of your electricity spend – this can amount to a serious saving.
If such an installation is too expensive, consider using solar chargers for small appliances, battery-powered electronics, or your smart devices. Though they can often charge more slowly, you won’t need to connect your devices to a mains line – and add to your electricity bill – to power them.
Monitor data usage or phone costs
The price of mobile data in South Africa can be a pain point for many of us, especially considering that most of us use our smart devices to stay connected to online services and platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
A great way to manage your expenses is to contact your network service provider and set up account limits on your contract, which will prevent you from spending over and above a certain amount if you happen to exceed your monthly data, voice, or SMS bundle. Additionally, many modern smartphones will also be able to set data warning limits in the event you exceed a certain amount of bandwidth (such as 1 GB).
If you use a prepaid connection, you can limit the amount of data you use by toggling your mobile data connection off when you don’t need it, installing a data manager app, and switching off automatic app updates.
Lastly, by turning off your mobile data access on your phone and using free Wi-Fi hotspots instead, you avoid spending additional money on data. Remember, however, to never join a network that you’re not sure of, and to never enter your personal information (such as your email address or credit card details) if asked when joining a ‘free’ network – your personal information and safety could be at risk.