Our finances can always do with a little TLC. Here are 30 tips to help you save money and keep the pennies in the purse, as well as the Rands in the bank.
1. Book next year’s holiday flights now and make significant savings. As the price of oil continues to rise, it’s truer than ever that you’re more likely to get the cheapest flights by trawling the internet and checking out the budget airlines. If you can plan your holiday off-season, or even fly mid-afternoon or mid-week, even better.
YOU SAVE anything up to R2 000 for a local trip and even more on international journeys.
2. When going on holiday turn your geyser off – it takes a lot of electricity to heat up your water. When at home, turn the temperature of your geyser down – do you really need boiling water fresh out the tap?
YOU SAVE up to 60% of your usual monthly electricity bill on a two-week holiday.
Manage your finances
3. Have one, and only one, credit card! One approach is to put everything you buy on it. Set up a direct debit to pay it off in full each month, ideally just after your salary goes into your bank account. By keeping track of your spending, you’re less likely to spend spontaneously.
YOU SAVE AT LEAST 10% of what you might otherwise spend.
4. Close any bank accounts that you have open, but are not actively using.
YOU SAVE more than R1 000 a year in bank charges.
5. Paying your bills on time not only saves money in interest, but results in a good credit rating. And a good credit rating means you’re more likely to be offered better interest rates when you apply for loans – including your home loan and vehicle financing. On a short-term loan, it could make a difference of up to 5% on the interest rate a financial institution is willing to offer you. You can get a free online credit check from the two main bureaux in South Africa at experian.co.za and transunion.co.za.
YOU SAVE up to R2 000 in interest on a R50 000 loan over five years.
6. One of the most widely ignored tips for saving money is to know what you spend. This means keeping track of your debt and not going into debt unnecessarily. Millions of South Africans are struggling to manage their debt – work out your monthly expenditure at moneysavingexpert.com.
7. One ticket per lotto. If you buy one lotto ticket, the odds are 14 million to one that you’ll win. If you buy two, the odds are 13.999 million that you’ll win – not a big statistical leap in your favour. So buy just one ticket and save the other R5 for something a little more likely to give you pleasure.
YOU SAVE R260 a year.
8. The ink in our computer printer cartridges costs more, ounce for ounce, than gold. So don’t store cartridges near heaters or warm machinery (it evaporates), choose the right setting for the paper you use and set all printing settings to ‘draft’ – this should extend the life of a black cartridge by as much as 20%.
YOU SAVE about R650 a year.
9. Use less computer printer paper by changing the default margins on your word-processing programme to 1.9 cm all round. You’ll use 5% less paper – in other words, every 20th packet of paper will be free.
YOU SAVE a tree and around R800 if you save 20 packets of paper.
Ban the bottle
10. Drink tap water instead of bottled. You’ll save natural supplies and throw away fewer bottles, creating less waste for landfills.
YOU SAVE close to R2 000 a year, assuming you buy one small bottle of water a day.
11. A subscription to Essentials means you get three free issues a year.
YOU SAVE Assuming you buy one issue every month for a year (R378), you’ll save around R132 (35%) if you subscribe and only pay R245,70!
Subscribe to the Essentials magazine now and save 35%!
Keep your car costs low
12. Knock up to 20% off your fuel costs by driving at 100 km/h (in the slow lane, of course) rather than 120 km/h on highways.
YOU SAVE one litre of petrol every 30 km. On mileage of 15 000 km a year, you could save as much as R4 500.
13. Carpool on school runs, shopping trips and the journey to work. Cut down on unnecessary trips and do all your shopping in one place, like a shopping mall.
YOU SAVE up to R3 600 a year.
14. Reduce your car’s average fuel consumption by up to 5% and save around 45c per litre. Make sure your car isn’t carrying extra weight by emptying the boot where possible and taking off roof boxes and roof racks as soon as they’re not needed. The right tyre pressure can also help you save.
15. Phone your insurance company and ask them to adjust your car insurance premiums to take into account the current residual value of your vehicle. Generally, they will do this only on request, meaning that you’re probably paying insurance on a higher value for your car than would be paid out.
YOU SAVE up to R1 000 a year, depending on the value of your car and when last the premiums were updated.
Change the bulbs
16. With the cost of electricity rising, replace your current light bulbs with low energy light bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Lights). Low energy bulbs use up to 80% less electricity than standard bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Installing a pre-paid electricity meter will also make you more conscious of the amount of power you’re using and will help you keep track of how much you’re spending.
YOU SAVE approximately 15% on your monthly electricity bill.
Time to quit
17. Stop smoking! Apart from the health benefits, you’ll save a significant amount of money by not buying that pack a day. You’ll also be guaranteeing future savings on medical bills and your medical aid will give you better rates as a non-smoker!
YOU SAVE around R8 000 a year on cigarettes alone.
18. Give up your landline and use your cellphone only.
YOU SAVE up to R2 000 a year on the line rental.
Check your cellphone package
19. Don’t pay for minutes you’re not using. Just take your phone bills into your local cellphone store and ask them if there’s a more suitable package, taking into account your personal peak call hours.
YOU SAVE up to R1 500 a year.
20. Staying in is the new going out. Renting DVDs, or subscribing to a streaming service like Netflix or Showmax, is much cheaper than going out to a movie.
YOU SAVE around R200 a month, assuming you go to the movies twice a month.
Read more: What is video streaming and how do I do it?
21. Do you really need that DStv subscription? Movies can be rented and you can catch up on current affairs online. Any series you absolutely cannot miss can probably be found on a streaming service.
YOU SAVE close to R6 000 a year.
22. Stay in for dinner instead of eating out. These days, an average meal out for two people can cost R300 or more, which is easily double the cost of cooking your own meal.
YOU SAVE up to R8 000 a year between the two of you by staying in one more night a week.
Shop from home
23. Buy groceries online instead of going into the store. By doing this, you’ll avoid the temptation of putting unnecessary items into the trolley and be able to easily track your expenditure as you choose items. Try pnponline.co.za, woolworths.co.za, or dischem.co.za (for toiletries and health goods).
24. Buy generic painkillers. A packet of 30 branded painkillers costs around R70 versus R40 for the generic equivalent.
YOU SAVE as much as R360 a year, assuming your family uses a box a month.
25. Buy no-name brand foods and save on your monthly groceries bill. What many people don’t realise is that the products are made by the same manufacturers and are simply packaged differently.
YOU SAVE up to 10% on your monthly grocery bill.
Cut out impulse shopping
26. Stop buying clothes on impulse! Statistically, we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, and 80% of our clothes only 20% of the time. Make a list of the few fundamentals that you need and go out and buy them – don’t buy anything that’s not on the list, no matter how well it’ll go with your new jeans.
YOU SAVE at least R2 500 a year.
Read more: How to stop buying clothes you never wear
Don’t be lazy
27. Make lunch before you go to work instead of buying it. The cost of making your own lunch is marginal, compared to buying lunch from the local sandwich shop each day, which can easily set you back R30 or more. You can also be more certain of a healthy lunch if you make it yourself.
YOU SAVE close to R8 000 a year.
One cocktail only!
28. When going out, treat yourself to one cocktail only, then drink beer or cider (around R20) instead.
YOU SAVE more than 50% on your bar tab.
29. Instead of using expensive household cleaning products, use more natural alternatives such as bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice and vinegar. Toothpaste can be used when the kids have been scrawling on your walls and Coca-Cola can be used as a kitchen de-scaler! As a bonus, the alternatives are also kinder on the environment.
YOU SAVE up to R1 200 a year.
Read more: 20 Cleaning hacks you never knew you needed
30. Consider growing your own vegetables – even if you don’t have a big garden, you can grow them in boxes; or you can grow them up by using tripods for vines, such as gem squash and beans. Not only will you save on your weekly shopping trip, but you can also benefit from eating organic food from your own garden.
YOU SAVE between R2 500 and R5 000 a year, depending on the size of your family.
Read more: How to regrow your fruit and vegetables