NATIONAL NEWS - For many South Africans, the increased cost of living is becoming more intense, with rising fuel and food prices as well as the recent increase in electricity, water and municipal tariffs.
Budget Insurance recently conducted research which found that these exact hikes - increases in food prices, fuel and unexpected expenses, were the top three threats to South Africans maintaining a budget and ultimately, saving money.
“While there was some relief for consumers when the South African Reserve Bank cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5% overall, the rising cost of living tends to eat into most people’s disposable income, leaving little opportunity to save,” says Susan Steward from Budget Insurance.
Steward notes that South Africans need to be cautious and not live beyond their means by finding ways to spend less.
She has compiled some savvy money-saving swaps to make your disposable income go further:
• Take a packed lunch to work rather than ordering 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.
• Swap the cappuccino for a homemade brew which can be taken to work in a thermos.
• Cancel your gym membership and join a running group, exercise at home or join a social sports club.
• Ditch the expensive debt such as clothing accounts by getting these paid off and stop buying new. There are plenty of second hand clothing stores around, plus you could switch wardrobes with your friends and family.
• Consider switching to other online streaming services which work out less expensive for your film, TV and music entertainment.
• Switch from impulse purchases to planned purchases. Keep an eye on weekly grocery specials or 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.
• Swap your current travel habits for more efficient ones such as walking, using public transport or carpooling. Plan your daily travel to avoid making regular or unnecessary car trips and opt for alternative transport to reduce spend on petrol.
• Replace casual, gut-feel financial planning with a more 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 that extra cash. Make small changes to your spending habits and never lose hope.
“Consumers’ ability to keep up with the rising cost of living expenses is dependent on their ability to create a budget and stick to it. That means paying off expensive debt first, stretching their disposable income and saving regularly for any unexpected expenses,” advises Steward.
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