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10 things you can learn to live without & you'll save

17 February 2021
6 minute read

Woman shopping

We know you’re always looking for a little extra cash in your budget so we went in search of 10 items you might decide you can live without - and save hundreds or even thousands of Rands a month.

Some of these things may well be essential or important to you. Or you may have cut them out already. But it’s worth taking the time to think about whether you could do without some of these items, without missing them too much.

1. Second cars and expensive cars
If you are a two-car family, you can make a quick saving by selling one of your cars. Savings on car finance payments, maintenance costs and insurance can add up to thousands of Rands a month. If you and your partner are mostly working from home, and your children are not at school every day, or you live close to their school, you might be able to share a car, carpool to work or school, and make use of Uber occasionally.

Another car expense you can live without is the high cost of owning an expensive car. We compared a sedan model costing R270 000 and an SUV model costing R575 000 and found that the difference in monthly repayments was R4 900. You would save on insurance and petrol costs, too.

2. Holidays and visits to family
It’s great to see family and spend time with friends. But travel and vacation expenses can really drain your bank account and increase debt. You need to find a way to cut these costs. Some options include cutting down the number of trips, and setting a budget, including limiting amounts spent on gifts and outings when you are visiting with or entertaining family. 

3. Specialist medical services
The cost of doctor’s visits are a worry for many of us, and this might be an area where you can save without compromising your health care. Cut expensive medical costs by:

  • Visiting your GP before a specialist. Just one visit to a specialist can cost over R1 000. GPs are highly skilled, trained and experienced, and will refer you to a specialist only if it is strictly necessary.
  • Using chronic condition monitoring services at your local clinic or at pharmacies like DisChem and Clicks for blood pressure checks, glucose screening and so on, rather than going to your doctor each time.

Read more on where to find cheap medical care.

4. An expensive smartwatch
Unless you are using it to monitor a serious health condition like diabetes or you get it for free on a rewards programme, a smartwatch is a nice-to-have and not a necessity. If you have a smartphone, the phone’s health app might give you some of the functions you like - such as monitoring how far you’ve walked - without the watch.

Top tip: With 1Life Pulse life cover you can earn up to R500 000 additional cover when you make better lifestyle choices. You choose to get a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 to track your progress. Smartwatch, sorted! 

5. A gym contract
Last year South Africans discovered the outdoors in numbers when strict lockdown ended! We found new ways to exercise in the parks and on the streets, making use of outdoor gyms and inexpensive indoor gym equipment like water bottles filled with sand. There are thousands of options for online classes, many of them free. Gym contracts range from a few hundred rand a month to over R1 000 a month – that’s a lot of money to spend, especially if you don’t use the gym regularly.

Top tip: If you still want to go to the gym but need to cut costs, ask about an off-peak contract or see if you can get a lower cost contract at a smaller gym. You can save as much as R500 a month.

6. Fast food
Take-aways are neither the cheapest nor the healthiest option. One takeaway pizza meal (2 x large margherita pizzas) for a family of four can cost around R125. We priced a make-your-own version at R80 (flour, yeast, garlic, tomato, mozzarella, oven time). You can even buy pizza bases or fresh dough at some supermarkets. And there is a fun factor when you start stretching the dough and ‘decorating’ your pizza. You can live without fast foods, and save money doing it.

7. Expensive cell phones and contracts
A mid to low range smartphone costing R3 000 offers everything most of us need, and the newer models have vastly improved batteries for longer life, and good quality cameras. Top range phones can cost over R20 000, and you pay for that in your contract price. Rather spend money on data, or on other essentials and debt, before splurging on the latest model on contract.

Top tip: Always make sure you have the appropriate amount of data and airtime in your contract. If you’re using a lot less than your contract amount you could save money by taking a contract with less data.

8. Designer sneakers and clothes
The lure of designer sneakers and clothes is high, even though many of us are working from home in sweatpants! We get it - we all want to look good. But do we really need the high-priced items? A designer sneaker can cost over R2 000, a cheaper version R600, and an even cheaper version R300. They all look good, and the cheaper option looks better on your bank balance.

Consider how often you will wear the item, and whether you’ll get value from it. If not, rather save the money for a special occasion outfit like a wedding or put it into your savings fund.

Get together with friends for a morning of grooming and pampering

9. Expensive personal grooming
Personal grooming is important, and for many of us it’s a lovely treat. But it’s also an area where you can spend a fortune - and one where you can save. Lockdown has taught us that we can live without - or DIY - many of our costly grooming and beauty treatments.

Limiting hair salon visits to an occasional treat and finding alternatives, such as doing your own hair colour, can save money. Choosing a low maintenance style rather than, say highlights or hair extensions, really cuts costs.

Invest in a good pair of scissors or clippers and you could cut your children’s hair, and men’s hair if the style is short and simple.

Top tip: Visit the nail bar every two or three months and, in between, spend a morning with friends doing each other’s nails.

10. Basic handyman services
You will save money if you can avoid calling in a professional to do a small maintenance or repair job. With Google and the wealth of instructional videos on YouTube - as well as a stepladder and some basic tools - you might be able to take on some home maintenance and DIY. It is well worth it from a cost-saving point of view. For example, you could pay a plumber R500+ to change the washers on your taps. Fixing it yourself saves at least half the cost, often more, because you are only paying for parts. And you’re learning a new skill!

Some things require the help of an expert, but not all the household chores are complicated. Start small and try and do your maintenance in regular office hours so you can get help quickly, if you run into problems. And rather leave the electrical matters to an electrician!

Top tip: Your local hardware store can be a good source of DIY advice.

Positive results
If you do manage to cut back in some of these areas, you’ll have extra cash in your budget, and less financial stress. Doing some of these services yourself can also be fun and empowering. At the very least you have a great braai story to tell if things don’t go too smoothly, at best a new skill you can use to earn a bit of extra cash on the side!

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