Many people’s New Year’s Resolutions centre around saving more and spending less. But when it comes to actually implementing a resolution (you know, the tricky part), it’s tough to know where to start. To help you make good on your promises, we’ve compiled a list of nine ways to spend R300 less each month in 2017. Some of them require a little sacrifice, some you might not even notice.
1. Cut your daily cappuccinoNo one’s suggesting you go without your daily dose of caffeine, but seriously, does it need to be prepared by an artisan barista with imported beans and foam art? Cappuccinos are great for an occasional treat. The rest of the time, make your own coffee at the office. This is such a popular way of saving, it even has a name: the Latte Factor.
Average coffee: R20
Times per month: 20
Total cost: R400
Cost of 200g instant coffee: R65
You can save: R335
2. Manage your electricity bill Load shedding is over and there’s a drought to worry about, so South Africans have all but forgotten about reducing their electricity usage. But there are still substantial savings to be realised by cutting back on power. Be vigilant about your usage – unplugging unused appliances, switching off lights if you’re not in the room, and boiling only as much water as you need for a cup of tea. If you haven’t already, plan to install LED light bulbs, a geyser timer, a geyser blanket and a pool pump timer over the next few months. And check out Eskom’s extensive tips for being energy efficient in every room of your house.
Estimated electricity bill for a household of four people: R1 500
Potential reduction: If make it a priority, you can reduce your bill by 20% to R1 200.
You can save: R300
3. Be water wise South Africa is in the grips of a severe drought and water restrictions are a reminder of our excessive water use. Even if rainfall returns to normal, keep implementing measures to control your consumption. Here’s an extensive list of tips to help you save water and money.
Estimated water bill for a family of four: R900
Potential reduction: 35%
You can save: R315
4. Cut your data bill If, instead of believing that data should be available to you every waking second, you use your smart phone only when you are in bundle or have access to free wifi, you could save yourself a packet. Turn on your data manager and get strict with yourself about usage by following these tips.
Estimated bill: Data bills for high-end users can go as high as R5 000 a month and beyond. We’ve worked with a more conservative figure of R600.
Potential reduction: You can reduce your data bill by as much as 50%.
You can save: R300
5. Plan two super-cheap meals a week If your starting point for meal planning is “meat, a starch and two veg”, you’re going to find it hard to cut the costs of food. But if you make affordability the focus of a couple of your weekly meals, you’ll find it’s easy to reduce your food bill. Consider pasta with home-made tomato sauce, baked potato with cottage cheese or a cheese omelette.
Estimated meal cost: a chicken breast with a side of broccoli, pumpkin and rice costs in the region of R25 per person to prepare for a family of four.
Potential costs of a low-cost meal: Pasta with tomato sauce costs R15 per person to prepare.
You could save: You’re saving R10 per family member, so that’s R40 saved per low-cost meal you prepare. Do that two nights a week, four weeks a month, and you could save R320 per month.
6. Make a “save on presents” deal with your friendsIf you and your children have an extensive circle of friends, you might find that you are forking out a huge amount for birthday presents every year. Have a chat with your nearest and dearest about stopping the madness. Agree to spending no more than R150 per present for kids and friends, and get creative with your shopping or baking – or band together with other friends for a bigger present that the recipient really wants.
Estimated cost per present: R300
New cost per present: R150
You could save: R300 a month, depending on the frequency of events.
7. Eat your veggies, quit your vitamins Vitamins and other supplements are at best expensive placebos that do very little to improve your health – unless specifically recommended by your doctor to treat a particular condition. Even if your diet is not that great, the human body tends to get what it needs from the food that you feed it. Drop the vitamins and make sure you eat your carrots and spinach.
Cost of a range of vitamins: Calcium and Magnesium - R150, Omega 3 - R120, Vitamin C - R150, Vitamin D – R125. A total of R545.
You could save: R545!
8. Investigate video on demand services If you are fed up with the spiralling costs of cable television in South Africa, look into the multiple video on demand services available to South Africans. This calculation assumes you have a suitable data connection into your home.
Current costs of DSTV Premium: R759 per month
ShowMax: R99 per month (excluding the cost of the data line)
You could save: R660
9. Join a walking club and ditch your gym membershipA gym membership offers you great value – if you actually go to the gym. However, if your gym card is gathering dust, you’re not benefiting from that value at all. Cancel your membership, but don’t give up on fitness. Find a walking mate and make the streets your workout space – it’s free and offers fantastic health benefits as part of the deal. You could also consider jogging or home workouts.
Current costs of a gym membership: R425 per month
You could save: R425 per month
The bottom lineSome of these savings are easy to achieve. Some take a little more commitment. Either way, there are a wealth of savings opportunities at your fingertips, if you just make up your mind to grasp them.