The petrol price broke the R16 per litre mark this month.
Combined with the fact that the rand is now 8.6% weaker against the dollar since the beginning of June, and a number of rates increases, it’s understandable that your wallet will likely feel a lot lighter at the end of the month.
While there’s usually no such thing as a quick fiscal fix, there are some smart financial ‘hacks’ that may just make a huge difference, says Madri Jacobs, a senior financial planner at Sanlam.
Below Jacobs outlined some of the tips she often shares with clients to immediately start turning their financial situations around.
Ditch expensive debt
- Review your loans, including mortgage and vehicle debt, credit card and retail accounts.
- Plan to repay the most expensive (or highest interest) debt first. It’s tempting to buy on credit, but you often end up paying more for your purchases because of expensive interest.
- Try and repay these accounts over a few months, ditch the cards and buy with cash in the future.
- Save the money you would have spent on debt in a smart savings vehicle. Then, instead of paying high interest, you could be earning it.
Spring clean your bank account
- Take the past three months’ bank statements and check every single detail. Check all costs, fees and banking charges.
- Determine whether you optimally use the monthly package you pay for.
- You could consider downgrading to a more suitable package or even switching banks if you see that you can pay less for the services you need elsewhere.
- As an example, if you are able to save R40 per month on banking charges and fees, it will be R480 yearly, which could possibly cover the cost of your mobile account for a month.
Review your subscriptions
- Review your TV subscription(s), data and Internet provider costs, as well as gym or club memberships.
- If you do not use any of these often, ask yourself if you still need them.
- Based on my experience, you can save approximately R99 to R899 per month, just from cancelling or downgrading subscriptions. Don’t let these savings go unnoticed. Use them to repay expensive debt and save the balance.
- Packing lunch is a great way to cut down on costs, plus you’ll probably eat more healthily.
- This tip will never go out of fashion. If you are able to save just R20 per day, it amounts to R100 per week, which could add up to about R4,000 if you do this for 40 weeks of the year.
Borrow before you buy
- Next time you’re in need of a gadget or home appliance, message a friend or ask a neighbour if he or she has one you can borrow.
- There’s no need to invest in a fancy pasta maker if you’re only planning to use it once. If you do have gadgets gathering dust, consider selling these for extra cash.
- Play the five-day game. If you still want something after you’ve thought about it for five days, then maybe it’s worth it. If not, you should probably take that money and put it towards your emergency fund instead.
Budget – create one, review it frequently and stick to it
- This should be the cornerstone of your financial planning. Split your budget into a long-term (e.g. provide for retirement), medium-term (e.g. education) and short-term (annual and monthly household budgets) plan.
- Involve all family members in the planning process to make the household budget work.
- Budgets get you to review your finances, manage it more effectively and set longer-term goals.
Never go without a shopping list
- It’s always dangerous to shop without a list, especially if you’re hungry and in a grocery store. Follow two golden rules: stick to a list and consider buying in bulk when it benefits you to do so.
- When buying in bulk, compare the unit costs. For instance, if it costs R100 to buy 5kg but R17 to buy 1kg, you’ll pay less when you buy multiple 1kg packs.
- Use bank statements to work out just how much impulse shopping is costing you. Curb the spending and put the money towards a medium- to long-term savings goal.
Beat the transport blues
- Walk, take public transport or carpool with a colleague. Beat soaring petrol prices by traveling smartly.
- With petrol prices increasing again, cutting back on drive-time can mean big savings.
Get a personal financial trainer
- Trying to budget, spend less and save is very similar to trying to work out all by yourself. It is easier to join an athletics club or commit to exercising with a friend.
- Just like you need a fitness coach, you need a financial one. Find a personal financial trainer who you can be accountable to and build a relationship with.
- Your expertise might not be in saving and finances, and it could make you feel stressed. Rather consider visiting a financial planner. Together you could work on a plan that could improve your finances and, as a result, your future outcome.
Never lose hope
- Remember that you are not the only one struggling to balance your budget.
- Keep going, no matter what or how many times you fail. Draw up a budget and stick to it.
- Make small changes by cutting expenses, reducing your debt and saving as much as you can. Over time it can have a huge impact on your financial outcome.