We’re double-digit days into 2021 and #Januworry is still trending on social media channels. From the amount of posts about surviving on 2-minute noodles, it seems that many South Africans started the new year with a financial hangover after overspending in December. If you were a bit too merry over the festive season, don’t despair – it is possible to have a more financially friendly year, starting now.
“If you’re not sure where to start, a budget is always a smart first step. This will help you feel more in control, knowing where your money is going each month and ensuring you live within your means,” says Susan Steward, spokesperson for Budget Insurance.
Budget Insurance has compiled a guide to smart money management:
Create a financial calendar and set dates to go through your financial records and receipts. Assess your holiday expenses and create a plan around cutting back and consider a payment plan for outstanding bills, don’t ignore them. For the rest of the year, keep a record of your expenses, receipts, bills and tax-related paperwork in a folder or scan them.
Review your current expenses
- Check your statements. Do an inventory of all your accounts to see what you’re receiving and spending monthly.
- Group your expenses. Tracking your expenses by grouping them helps you to see how much you’re really spending.
- Keep track. Budgeting apps allow you to record your purchases and expenses as you make them. There are several budgeting apps tailored for various needs to choose from. You can also use an excel spreadsheet.
Clear out and sell unwanted things
Get rid of the things that no longer serve your home to create financial breathing room.
- Identify unwanted items and create a list – taking pictures of the items makes this process easier.
- Place an ad online, for example on Facebook’s Marketplace, which is free and easy to navigate. All you need is a Facebook account and you’re ready to go. Yaga is another website where you can sell second-hand clothing.
- Advertise the items’ value and be willing to negotiate.
Spend less on school supplies.
- Do an inventory. Take stock of what you have and avoid duplicate purchases.
- Budget and plan. Draw up a list of the supplies needed. Sign up to get updated price lists from a school-supply website such as SchoolSuppliers.co.za. That way, you can stick to your budget.
Remember, even the smallest adjustments can make a meaningful difference over the long term. Channel the extra money you have into paying off your debt faster, starting with those with the highest interest rates, first. As your debt repayments start getting smaller, you will have more and more money to allocate to your personal savings.
“Develop a positive attitude towards learning how to save money and how you handle money and hold yourself accountable. It’s not an overnight achievement, so be patient with yourself. What matters is taking the first step,” says Steward.