We’ve been on a wild goose chase over the past few months. Not for anything to buy, if that’s what you were thinking. Nope, quite the opposite. With inflation that’s gone up, groceries costing an arm and a leg (did you see the price of butter?) and monthly transport costs preventing you from buying that cappuccino for the road, we’ve been having to check our spending very carefully lately. Still, while checking our expenses daily, it still doesn’t mean we make ends meet at the end of the month. That’s why this post is not only for you, but also for me. To see how I can spend less daily and essentially, monthly. Oh, and if you’re a coffee fan, continue reading, ’cause I might just be able to reduce your spending for the next month!
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Create a budget
Simply put, a budget is a way for you to keep tabs on how much money comes in and how much money goes out. But, there’s more. It’s also a way for you to plan for the month ahead – setting money aside for certain things. The ideal is to set up your budget in a way that must-haves and priority spending is right at the top. Then, a percentage has to be set aside for savings too – something that should also be a priority. Only then can you start listing the extras like that trendy little spring number (check out the latest spring collections out for 2023 here), takeaways and that 80% Lindt dark chocolate.
Reduce your spending by keeping track
In order to be able to reduce your spending, you need to keep track of your expenses. Apart from your budget, it’s good to stay on top of what you’re spending on a day-to-day basis. There are numerous apps out there that could help you with this. Many banks also assist in tracking your spending. FNB, for example, shows you an expected balance after payments, taking into account your previous months’ spending habits. The bank’s nav>>Money tool is very helpful in giving you a quick glance at what you have available in your account for the rest of the month. It includes debit orders that you know about, but it also pulls up other regular monthly payments.
Check your subscriptions
You’d be surprised at how many subscriptions you’re paying for monthly – things you don’t necessarily even use. Check your bank and phone statements and unsubscribe to the apps and platforms that you don’t use.
Utility costs add up
Leaking toilets, unused electrical devices that are plugged in, high geyser temperatures, lights that aren’t switched off when you leave the room, tumble drying clothes when you’ve got enough sunlight to dry them on the line – these are all small things that add up, making for a more expensive water and electricity bill at the end of the month. With a few small habit changes, you can reduce your expenses.
If you can, invest in things like LED bulbs, solar panels and water saving practises for the long run.
Go smaller or rent to reduce your spending
In South Africa, many of us are lucky to have grown up in houses with large gardens, more than two bathrooms, rooms for every sibling (plus a spare room) and even perhaps a swimming pool. That way of living has been engrained in our minds and obviously we want exactly that, if not more, for our kids. The thing is, life has become much more expensive and the pressure is on. If you are paying off debt through your ears and you can’t see the end, consider going smaller or even renting. Maybe that will allow you to save up and buy an even better house than the one you currently have and who knows, you might just be able to buy it cash then.
Leave the take-outs
Apart from the fact that most take-away foods are generally not very healthy, eating at home is a great way for your family to spend time together. Preparing meals together and dining around the kitchen table is one of the most special bonding times for our little family. In addition, it might just help you to reduce your spending.
Furthermore, while we live in a world where being a barista is the next best thing, you don’t have to have the fanciest coffee machine and drink speciality coffee all day. In fact, a cup of Jacobs coffee made right can be pretty good too!
WIN, WIN, WIN!
You can win with Suitcase & Chardonnay and Jacobs Coffee! One lucky reader will receive a hamper filled with coffee goodies to the value of R1350. The hamper includes instant coffee, pods and cappuccino sachets, as well as a travel mug and flask set to help you save on those take-away coffees. To enter, click here.
When you shop for groceries, consider the price tags carefully. Often, the store brand products are much cheaper and most of it is pretty much the same quality if you ask me. You’ll see what works and what doesn’t soon enough. Also, don’t you dare go shopping without a list! Plan your meals for the week and make a list of the items you’ll need. Then, keep to the list and when you walk past that Lindt chocolate that costs almost a hundred bucks, look the other way. (It also helps to shop at a time of day when you’re not hungry, as that will help you to stay away from buying unnecessary items).
Another great tip is to have a look at the specials that the store is advertising. Then, try to incorporate those items in your meal plan for the week. That way, you can reduce your spending even further.
Sell what you don’t use
You might struggle to cut expenses, but there are always ways to make an extra few hundred rand. Sell that extra table that’s collecting dust and taking up space in the garage. Put the clothes you’re not wearing up for sale on your Instagram account. (Now’s a good time, since you’re bound to be packing away your winter clothes to make space for your spring and summer outfits in any case). You’d be surprised at how much value others can find in things you can’t seem to care less about.
Reduce your spending by renting that dress
Need a dress for the next big event? These days, you won’t get away with a dress under R900 if you want to buy something proper, and that’s if you’re lucky. But, you can rent a trendy outfit, which not only leaves some breathing space in your budget, but also in your cupboard. Luxe Lend is but one of the many fashion rental shops and they have some of the most beautiful, trendy outfits available. No more see it, want it, buy it. Now, you can see it, want it and rent it.
Cancel the credit culture
While I am not a fan of the cancel culture trend, I wouldn’t mind hopping on the bandwagon if it’s about dismissing debt due to credit card spending. In fact, a credit card – I found – is a too easy way for you to spend money you don’t actually have. While it is convenient to have a credit card, especially for when emergencies creep up, it might be a good idea to keep it stored somewhere safe at home instead of keeping it in your purse.
A cash-only environment
Wikus always talks about how when he was young, his uncle and aunt would put their money into envelopes every month. Apart from their debit orders, the rest of the money went into marked envelopes, each with the budgeted amount they planned on spending for the envelope’s category. When the money in the grocery envelope ran out, it meant that they had no more money to spend on groceries. If they spent too much on groceries, they then had to take money from another envelope to make up for it. These days, it’s much too easy to spend money by merely swiping a card. It’s also hard to track your spending when you can’t see the actual money come in and go out. While many of us are reluctant to walk around with cash, keeping it in a safe at home and taking only what you need, might be a good solution to the challenge of reducing your spending.
If you have debt, paying it off should be your number one priority as that is one of the things that keeps you from being able to save.
Travel wisely to reduce your spending
With the holiday season around the corner, consider travelling in a group and splitting the travel and accommodation costs. Opting for destinations that are not too far from home might also be a good idea. You might even be able to get some group discounts.
If you have any more tips, please share them in the comments section below.