If you’re one of those people who’s always counting down the hours to pay day, it’s time to take a good look at what eats away at your hard-earned cash. A coffee here, a bank charge there and suddenly you’re seeing red! Which means you could be eating into your overdraft… or eating beans on toast for the rest of the month.
You don’t have to. Here are some first-aid tips for your budget.
Coffee, chocolate, sweets and snacks. That daily stop at the garage shop for a lunchtime sandwich. It quickly adds up. It’s okay to treat yourself every now and again – just not every day. Keep a little notebook and jot down everything you buy (or download an app like Evernote, you’ll be amazed at how little of it was really necessary and how much it dented your bank balance. Just cut back – your waist will love you for it too!
Drawing money from another bank’s ATM incurs unnecessary costs. Basically, you’re using two banks for one transaction – your bank charges a transaction fee, the other bank charges an inter-bank fee for using its ATM. Then your bank charges you an additional fee to offset the inter-bank fee paid to the other bank. Next time you’re near one of your bank’s ATMs take two minutes to draw cash, or better still get a debit card.
When it comes to your credit charges that is. Those shoes you bought, that flat screen you didn’t need (you know, the one you’re still paying off) they all attract escalating interest, which makes what you bought a whole lot more expensive than it really is. Make paying off your debt a priority, and once you’ve done so, save up cash to pay for bigger purchases rather than buying them on credit. You could save hundreds of rands a year in interest alone.
Another way to save money is to make sure you’ve got affordable insurance. You could save around R320* on your monthly premiums with Budget Insurance, if you’re not already insured with us.
You’d be amazed at how many retailers offer loyalty programmes offering you discounts or even cash back after spending a certain amount of money. Be clever about where you shop and how you can take advantage of their programmes.
You can also sign up with Groupon and make use of their great deals. From slap-up meals to spa days and getaways, you can often enjoy savings of more than 50% off the selling price. Goes to show you can still spoil yourself without breaking the bank.
Save money by planning your meals ahead and only buying what you need, when you need it. Buying loads of fresh fruit and veg and then sticking them in the fridge until they go off, really is a waste of money.
Shops know how to trick us into buying things we don’t actually want and more than what we really need. Only buy ‘bargains’ if you know you’ll use them. Two-for-one deals aren’t bad, it just depends what they are. Dishwashing liquid is okay to stockpile, cheap T-shirts not so much.
No, downloading movies are still illegal. But, there are some great (and South Africa) apps online that you can download to help you keep track of what you’re spending and saving, including budgeting tools and transaction lists. They’re designed to keep you on top of your finances, so your money doesn’t get you down.
Put away any money you’re able to save (no matter how small the amount), into a separate account. Do this every month. Later you can use it for bigger purchases or invest it, and reap the rewards.
Put some of these tips into practice and hopefully you’ll soon see a difference in your bank balance.
*Based on 2014 independent research conducted by Kaufman Levin Associates.
This article is for interest only and does not constitute financial advice.