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Here’s how to save money in a tough economy

To save money in the face of rising costs you need to make some lifestyle changes 

6 July 2016
4 minute read

wallet on table with money in it

There are so many savings tips that suggest clever ways to put money away so that you’ll hardly notice the difference. Or that implore you to give up one small daily or monthly treat  because the little things add up. But if you are really struggling to save money in the face of the rising costs of living, putting away R250 at the beginning of every month or

giving up your daily cappuccino just isn’t going to cut it

giving up your daily cappuccino just aren’t going to cut it anymore. Times are tough, and everything costs more, especially food.  The time to make easy sacrifices is gone. If you want to save money every month, it’s time to get serious and make some big sacrifices or lifestyle changes. Here are some of the larger expenses you could be looking at cutting. 

Your holidaySomehow, no matter how much people complain about the state of their finances, they still seem to be able to afford a holiday in December. When you take into consideration the costs of air tickets and car rental or petrol, accommodation, holiday entertainment and eating out, these annual adventures can easily add up to tens of thousands of rands. And the truth is that they are usually funded on credit . 

To save yourself a whack this year, stay home in December (and for all those other long weekends you would have taken between now and then). 

Your foodEven if you shop comparatively or always base your meals on the special offers at your local supermarket, you can probably save a lot of money by changing the way that you eat. Cutting out or reducing the amount of meat you eat can save you a fortune. You can also plan some very cheap meals for a couple of nights of the week rather than always having a helping of meat, starch and veg. Baked potato and cheese, anyone? How about a spinach and feta omelette? 

Your kids’ private schooling We all want what’s best for our children – but if you are struggling to make ends meet and going into debt to keep your kids in private schools, it’s time to consider what’s best for your whole family. The difference between the costs of a fee-paying government school (around R2 000) and a private school (around R6 000) is R4 000 per month per child. So that’s around R8 000 per month you could be saving if you move two children to government schools. 

Your kids’ extra murals and your hobbies Of course, your children should be expanding their horizons and having fun – but are ballet lessons and piano lessons and horse riding and gymnastics really necessary? Have you ever actually worked out how much all this is costing you? Sit down as a family and discuss which extra murals are the most important and which your child enjoys the most, and consider trimming the rest.

The same can be said of your costly hobbies. Are you a member of a book club? Do you go to pottery classes? How much is your weekly round of golf costing you? Are you using your gym membership? Do you really need DSTV? Remember that you can replace many of the things that are costing you money with similar activities that are free – like running with friends or hosting pot-luck dinners.  

Your car Many South Africans can’t afford the cars they are driving. They are making monthly repayments that eat into their budgets and are going into debt elsewhere to fund their lifestyles. They buy cars on a plan with a final “balloon payment ” that they will never be able to cover, and so they restart the same debt cycle every few years. 

It is possible to purchase a perfectly functional second-hand car  for a fraction of what it costs to buy a new luxury vehicle. If those car repayments are preventing you from saving – or forcing you into debt to cover your living expenses – then it’s time to rethink your car ownership plan. 

And if you have a second car in your family, consider whether you could do without it . South Africans are addicted to the convenience of having a vehicle at their disposal, but with some lifestyle adjustments, it’s possible for two people to get around with just one car. Consider whether the costs of owning and running an extra vehicle could be put to better use elsewhere. 

Make the sacrifice You don’t need to give away all your possessions and live like a hermit to save – but if you are struggling to make ends meet and you think you’ve done all you can, chances are there are some larger expenses you haven’t considered yet. You’re probably not going to save money without altering your lifestyle – and that might be just what these desperate times are calling for.

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