My husband and I have been thinking since the beginning of the year that it is time for another overseas trip. I am of course the biggest initiator of this because the travel bug bit me years ago. The urge to see the world won’t go away. Europe is on the list this time around. I wake up in the morning ready and focused to go to work so that I can make the money to reach this goal. When was the last time you had a goal so big that it scared you a little, and excited you a whole lot? The finances for the trip are currently the challenge we are faced with. I am one of those people who would do anything to reach this goal. The first thing I did was to re-evaluate our budget and monthly expenses to see how we can adjust it. Even if you don’t currently have a specific goal but you want to do more than just make ends meet, these tips will definitely assist in saving a few bucks. I was quite surprised and proud of how many I have already implemented in our household, but there is always room for improvement.
Here are 35 ways you can save in 2020:
1. Automatically save your change
Many banks now have the option to save the change left over from transactions into a savings account. So, every time you swipe your card it will round off the amount to the closest rand (you choose if it is to the closest R1, R5, R10 or more. For example, it automatically moves the R1,82 or R2,06 change left over into the account. Due to small amounts, it won’t necessarily ‘feel’ like the money in your account is getting less. As it accumulates it can add up to a substantial amount over time.
2. Sign up for loyalty programs
Getting rewards or cashback when you just do your normal shopping is great. There are a lot of stores that have created a loyalty program to help their customers save, be rewarded and celebrated for shopping at their stores. To me, where ever I can get a discount, cashback or points for cashback, makes it worth carrying an extra card in my wallet. It’s like getting money for spending money. Just to name a few stores and restaurants: Dischem, Checkers, Edgars, Clicks, Spur, Pick n Pay, John Dory’s and Mugg n Bean have such programs. Go enquire and sign up today.
3. Eat less meat and more vegetables
Across the world a trend has risen where more people are switching to eating less meat and more vegetables. Of course, for most South Africans meat is our favourite meal. Not only is it beneficial for our health to consume less meat but it will also help lower the budget. Buy your vegetables at a fruit and vegetable market usually costs less than at the main supermarkets. You will find great vegetable recipes online, on TV, in magazines and cookbooks. Try to make more plant-based than meat-based meals this year; it’s the healthier option.
4. Change your lightbulbs
Something as simple as changing your lightbulbs to energy-saving ones can add up to a substantial amount of money you can save per month and ultimately per year. Up to 10% per month of your electricity bill goes toward lighting. By switching off the lights in the rooms you aren’t occupying and by changing to energy-saving lightbulbs you can save up to R60 on an average R600 bill. The interesting fact is that low energy bulbs use around 80% less electricity than standard bulbs and they last much longer. I’d say changing your lightbulbs is a bright idea!
5. Quit smoking
Stopping smoking will be one of the best decisions you will make in your life. Yes, the habit is enjoyable but in the long run, you are not only harming your lungs but also wasting money. The average box of 20 cigarettes ranges from around R17 to R55. You and your bank balance will be in a much healthier state by ditching smoking.
6. Drive sensibly
Small things add up to big savings when it comes to your vehicle and its maintenance. Check your tyre pressure often. Petrol attendants don’t ask you “Oil, water, tyres all okay?” for nothing. Try not to brake too harshly. Stay within the speed limits. Take your car for its services when it is due and save not only money but extend the longevity of your car.
7. Keep up with the maintenance on your car
We all know maintenance is key to avoid big bills at a later stage. Check your car’s wheel alignment and shock absorbers often. It can be a safety hazard when these parts aren’t in good working order. It will also help with fuel consumption when your car works well.
8. Free parking zones
Be on the lookout for free parking zones at malls. You might have to walk a little further but every R8 or R10 you can save, helps. Plan ahead when you are going to the shops because some malls have free parking in the open and undercover parking, and other malls only have paid parking available. If the mall with the free parking has all the stores you need, rather head down to that one.
9. Negotiate a better price
There is no harm in negotiating for a discount at retailers like furniture or appliance stores. Tell them what your budget is; you don’t have to settle for the price tag you see on sale items. It can be a win if you negotiate a lower price and you won’t know if you don’t try.
10. Cut down on the alcohol
According to a new report by the World Health Organization, South Africa consumed 11 litres of pure alcohol per capita in 2010. This made us the country that consumes the most alcoholic beverages on the continent. Cut back on the amount of alcohol you consume per week. It will be good for your health and your pocket.
11. Reduce takeaway purchases
Takeaways are great when you are not in the mood to cook dinner, are rushed for time and starving or just craving your favourite takeaway meal. Unfortunately, when getting takeaways occurs too often, money flies out your wallet and kilojoules pile up on the body. The best idea would be to plan your week’s meals ahead or at least write down the options you have in the fridge, freezer or pantry. This will ensure that you don’t get home after work with no idea what to cook and then resort to getting takeaways. You could save around R300 per meal or takeaway.
12. Switch to a family subscription
My husband and I both have iPhones and we had our own individual Apple music subscriptions (which cost R59 per month) for the longest time. When I reviewed my app subscriptions, I realized we can have a family subscription for R89 per month and even add 5 people on the same subscription. The Apple music app can even be used on some Samsung phones. Every R30 that you can save adds up in the long run. Look at family subscriptions on DStv, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Apple music and many more.
13. Budget and plan for expenses in advance
We all have recurring expenses every year, yet it often catches us off guard. You know your car must go for a service annually, you should do maintenance on your aircon annually, a dentist visit once every year is optimal, your pets must go for their annual vaccination and you should test your eyes every 2 years. Unfortunately, we sometimes neglect these important things because of a lack of money. The best thing to do is to take these costs into consideration when planning your budget and allocate amounts for these expenses every month. Then you will have your savings ready for when the service or appointment is due, and this can spare you a lot of inconvenience and stress.
14. Have your own bottle of water close by
If you are like me, always thirsty, then it is smart to make sure you have water easily accessible at all times. Whether I’m driving to work, going to the mall or going to the gym, I ensure that I have a bottle of water with me. A 500ml bottle of water can cost anything between R8 – R12 or more. Saving happens in the small things, so start saving with your aqua.
15. Make your own coffee or smoothies
Although Kauai or Boost Juice Bar’s smoothies are incredible, making your own a few times a week can save you about R100 – R300 per week. Buy your choice of fruit in advance at a fresh fruit and veg market, package it and freeze it. When you need it, add some milk, peanut butter or whatever you like and whip up a healthy smoothie. Buying a smoothie at your favourite store or restaurant can be an incentive for when you’ve reached a goal. That way you can motivate yourself and save money by spending it wisely on small treats.
16. Ask for a doggy bag when eating out
Sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach and by letting the waiter throw away a quarter of food left on your plate just because you are embarrassed to take a doggy bag home is a little silly. Maybe you don’t like eating leftovers the next day, and that is okay, but maybe someone else in the household could enjoy it. It can be your lunch at work or a nice snack for when you get home. This can save you the money of getting a takeaway.
17. Take a “staycation”
They say a change is as good as a holiday. While staying home for the holidays might not feel like a change, sometimes changing up your routine at home can be just as good as going away. Accommodation, transport, activities and eating out all adds up when you go away. So, stay at home once in a while and just do things differently than what you normally do. Sleep in, make different dishes, spend time in nature, have game nights, see a movie, make a Christmas bed in the lounge and spend quality time with loved ones. You can still rest but taking a “staycation” can save you a lot of money.
18. Pack your lunch
Where are the days when you didn’t have to worry about making your own lunch for school? Mom got up in the mornings and packed your lunch for you. Taking your own lunch to work can save you tons of money. Perhaps while you make dinner, make the portions bigger and dish out some for the following day. Get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning and make yourself a sandwich. Cook meals in advance on a weekend and freeze them proportionally. Ordering food, buying at the canteen at your office or even buying at the café down the road can add up by the end of a month and it is probably not as healthy as a home cooked meal.
19. Buy generic medication
When you have prescribed medicine, ask the pharmacist to give you the generic version. It is the same thing as the original, but is sometimes half the price. Even if you take it on your medical aid savings account, it will help to not exhaust your savings. If it does the same job and saves you money, that is the way to go.
20. Review your financial statements every month
When was the last time you looked at your statements and reviewed what you’ve spent your money on? I looked at mine and I was shocked at how much money I spent on takeaways, buying food at work and dining out. I’m not a shopaholic, although sometimes I need some retail therapy. I am the kind of person that would spend money on experiences every day if I could. Experiences for me include dining out, going out, doing activities with friends or family and going away for a weekend. When you review your bank statement you will see exactly what you have spent your money on then you can adjust in the new month to help you save.
21. Use Airbnb when you travel
Whether you are traveling to a nearby city or town, to a different province or even overseas, Airbnb is the way to go to book affordable accommodation. The Airbnb website and app are user-friendly, gives suggestions, ratings, variety of sizes, styles and affordable options to cater anyone’s needs. Staying in a hotel always feels so fancy, but there certainly are upscale Airbnb options.
22. Save your raise by NOT using it
A raise is always a blessing. We all love to make plans on how we can spend it but take time to think it through thoroughly. Do you really need the extra pair of shoes? Do you really need to get a brand new car at a higher monthly cost? Saving just a portion of your raise can assist you in the long run for a deposit for that new car.
23. Educate yourself on being financially smart
Education is the best way to improve your life. Getting financially savvy is no different. There are so many books, online sites or blogs, YouYube videos and courses you can do to help you make better choices and investments. The quicker you learn, the better the future you can create for yourself and your loved ones.
24. Save your tax refunds
Most of us are so happy when we get a tax return, it is like Christmas in July. I’ve found that when I save my tax refund it always comes in handy when I need it the most. If you need to spend it, spend it wisely. Pay off debt or do the important things that will save you money in the long run.
25. Envelope saving works
I can’t remember who taught me to save with envelopes, but it works. I currently have envelopes for painting our bedroom, buying a TV, tiling the living room floor, money for accommodation for a weekend breakaway and an envelope for my car service. Whenever I have a R100, R50 or even just R10, I distribute it to the different envelopes. The idea is to save in smaller amounts, but still save towards your specific goals. It might take a few months for it to grow to a substantial amount, but if it can get you closer to the amount you need then it is worth it. Often we want to reach our goals immediately, but our finances don’t always allow it. So, use this method to save; you will be surprised by how quickly you can get to where you want to be by saving little by little.
26. Invest in valuable insurance policies
Insurance policies are something not everyone wants to talk about. It sometimes feels like such a waste or burden to pay every month, until the day when you need it, but you don’t have it. Policies are there for a reason. I’d suggest getting a broker to discuss which options and policies are available to suit your needs. You might not even think about being diagnosed with cancer or losing an arm and not be able to work anymore. Your family will still need you to support them, so find out how you can save your future and, in the end, possibly save you a lot of debt.
27. Pay your insurance in advance
There are certain companies that you can negotiate with to pay your insurance in advance. That way they can reduce your interest. Negotiate with them, they need your business. You have nothing to lose but only to gain.
28. Do you really need that storage unit?
When was the last time you went to the storage unit you pay so much for every month to get something from a box all the way in the back? Why not sort out the boxes, give away things you don’t need or haven’t needed recently, sell a few things and reduce your budget by eliminating the storage unit rent.
29. Make a ‘wish list’
If you can practice just a little bit of self-control, you can certainly save yourself a lot of money. I can be an impulsive buyer sometimes, especially when I have a few extra bucks left. Create your own wish list to give yourself time to review the item and price, see if it fits into your budget and if not then add it to your savings goals. Try not to do impulsive shopping. There’s nothing as bad as buyer’s remorse and unfortunately it normally comes when it is too late to return the item.
30. Get the best ‘low fee’ or ‘no fee’ bank account
Lately my account fees have been really high. I wasn’t even sure what I was paying R400 for every month. Luckily my bank contacted me to help move me over to a new type of account that could reduce my banking fees. It also helped me get more rewards back. Enquire with your bank to find out what your options are. Remember, it costs the bank a substantial amount in marketing costs to replace you as a customer, so they should be able to assist you in paying lower or even no account fees. Or if not, move over to a different bank that doesn’t have any banking fees. Do research and put money back in your own pocket. You have negotiating power.
31. Avoid paying ATM fees
Many banks allow you to draw cash at the till point at certain stores. It helps you avoid paying ATM fees. I only get 4 cash withdrawals at the ATM free of charge per month, thereafter I usually draw money at PnP or Checkers if I need cash urgently. Find out how your bank can help you.
32. Draw up a plan to get out of your debt
There’s nothing as good as a plan of action. Yes, it might take time to draw up and maybe you won’t stick to it religiously, but it’s better than no plan at all. The only way you can get out of debt is to work actively on it and plan it into your monthly budget will make it easier and more doable.
33. Pay your bills on time
The penalties for paying your bills late is not worth it. They charge you collection fees, penalty fees and more interest when you don’t pay on time. Make sure you schedule the due dates for your specific bills into your diary and/or budget and make sure your bills are paid on time.
34. Review your bills to pick up on mistakes
I noticed recently when I reviewed my bills that I was incorrectly charged for services I had already cancelled. It took some time out of my day to call them and query it. Within a few days I was reimbursed the R410 they deducted, and the cancellation was finalized. Apparently, I contacted the after sales department and not the cancellations department. The consultant I spoke to did not specify that I also had to call the cancellation department. She confirmed that they would collect the laptop, cancel the contract and stop the services, but it didn’t go down that way. So, take the time to review your bills often, make the call and stay on top of your finances.
35. Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry
I hate it when I have to do grocery shopping and my tummy is growling. It’s like everything in the store is jumping at me, screaming, “Eat me!” I have noticed that when I am hungry, I add far too many unnecessary and unhealthy items to my trolley. I possibly already have enough pasta at home, but mac and cheese sounds so yummy at that moment, I just want to make sure we have enough macaroni. Eat a meal or a snack before you go grocery shopping. It works for me.
I am so excited for our trip to Europe in September! I’ve printed this list and added it on our planning board to remind us of how we can save every single month. Put your finances first in your planning and goal setting so that stress levels can reduce, your health can improve and so you can live a debt free life. It is possible! Give it a go and make your dreams come true.