With the high cost of just about everything, people are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet on their salaries alone. Often, important things like insurance, retirement and savings are neglected as household budgets are stretched to breaking point.
Downsizing and cutting costs can only get you so far. At some point, there will be nothing left to trim. What you really need is more money coming in. Easier said than done, you say? Well, we’re here to tell you otherwise. As Prem Govender, the chairperson of the South African Savings Institute, points out, you can use your hobbies or skills to increase the pot of money available to you so that you can save.
We interviewed three ordinary South Africans who turn their talents to income-generation after hours, to show that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Here are their stories...
Zintombi (42) is a qualified Montessori preschool teaching assistant, who loves her job and the children that she looks after. She only works a half day, which leaves her with a lot of spare time in the afternoons and evenings, so she asked the owner of the school if she could advertise her babysitting and au pairing services on the notice board, and was given the green light.
“It has worked out beautifully for me,” she says. “I already have a relationship with the children and the parents trust me. I live in the area, so it’s easy to get to their homes. And I really enjoy getting to know the children better.”
Of course, the extra income really helps Zintombi. Her salary covers her basic expenses like rent, while the babysitting money helps her with her food and clothes each month.
Graeme (39) is a self-taught IT manager who works in the IT department of a small corporation. Because he has always worked with computers, he was known in his circles as a guy who knew how to fix things and his friends turned to him for help with their broken IT equipment. He quickly realised that he could earn extra money from his home repair shop, so he asked his friends to spread the word.
His income from his after-hours job is inconsistent – some months he’ll earn nothing, while in others he can bring in a couple of thousand rand. He is already a conscientious saver – he has two children and is buying a house – so the additional income he makes from computer repairs is “pocket money” that he can spend on entertainment and luxuries.
“I save 20% of my regular salary every month, and the extra money I earn is sporadic, so that’s the money I use for unplanned fun,” he says.
Aneeqah (29) is a social media producer with a degree in media, writing and film studies, who has a love of food and cooking. To supplement her income, she does small-scale catering for functions, and sells lunches to people in her office once a week. These activities bring in an extra couple of thousands of rand a month – which can double over Ramadaan when she prepares special quick-to-cook meals for the nightly breaking of the fast.
“For as long as I can remember, I have loved cooking and creating new dishes, so it’s a bonus for me to be able to make money from something I love doing,” she says. “The flip side of this is the stress of not messing things up because I want it to be perfect for the people buying my food.”
She said it was hard at the beginning to work out exactly what she should charge so that her cooking would bring in an income. “It was easy to work out the prices of the ingredients, but hard to put a cost to the labour involved – which is something that doesn’t come naturally to me,” she says. She spoke to some caterers about how to do the maths and they were happy to help her out.
Aneeqah now puts most of the extra money she earns into savings and investment accounts, and uses a small amount to treat herself.
Zintombi, Graeme and Aneeqah’s stories show how, with a bit of determination and hard work, anyone with a qualification or skill can generate extra income. Whether that income is used for luxuries, savings or to cover basic costs will be dictated by each person’s individual needs, but the bottom line is that whoever you are, it is possible to earn extra income.