By Dr Eugene Brink
Besides earning more money, the only way
to survive and thrive financially is to start spending less. This means cutting
down on big and small unnecessary expenses and above all, distinguishing
between wants and needs.
Spending money will always be easier and
more fun than saving and earning it, but this fact should contribute even
further towards converting your mindset from spending all your hard-earned cash
to saving it and letting it earn a return. This way your money will last longer
and give you more peace of mind on those rainy days.
But how do we go about saving money in
practice? These (fairly simple) tips are instructive:
- Stop your impulse buying
South African personal finance experts
Jaco Fouche and Jaco Barnard argue in their book Living Financially Carefree that we should simply decide never to
buy any expensive items on impulse. “Do your research and sleep on it first –
This is often easier said than done, but
the inconvenient truth doesn’t make this advice less practical. Firstly, try to
stay away from specific stores and shopping centres when you know you don’t
have the money to buy certain things. Once you are inside the store, the allure
of the product (such as a bigger flat-screen TV) might overwhelm you and you’ll
start making dangerous compromises relating to your spending priorities. This
is especially applicable during the silly season.
Unlike rent or a bond for a place to
stay or even fuel expenses, entertainment is really a luxury – yet one humans
don’t want to do without seeing that it gives us pleasure. Even though most
people spend a fair amount of money on entertainment each month, there are
cheaper ways to have fun while not compromising on the pleasure you get from
For instance, forget those costly nights
out and create your own movie and game nights at home. This will foster bonding
between friends and family too. Also, rent games, movies and books instead of
buying them. If you do decide to go out and see a movie, try to avoid buying
popcorn and drinks at the cinema and eat at home before you leave. Movie
theatres usually have special offers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Make use of
Fouché and Barnard add several tips to
this virtually inexhaustible savings list. If you want to go to a restaurant,
keep their special nights or days in mind. Swop books and DVDs with friends and
do not buy new books unless you have watched or read the ones you already have
(admittedly difficult if you love movies and books!). Parents should challenge
the kids to come up with family outings that are inexpensive.
Money expert Jenny Keefe says you should
never go shopping when you are hungry. “You only end up buying overprice junk
food.” And, she says, try to leave your kids at home because “I want” doesn’t
save you money.
One of the most elementary yet neglected
tips is to make a shopping list and stick to it. Buy the frequently used items
in bulk (with a friend or relative, if necessary), but certainly not
everything. Visit shopping centres less often to avoid overspending.
Fouché and Barnard recommend that you
only consider sales on things you really need. “Looking for the sales on
grocery items and clothing can save you up to 20%.” Furthermore, take advantage
of worthwhile consumer loyalty programmes (eBucks etc.), let the spouse with
the stronger willpower do the shopping and make work lunch at home instead of
There are a few other miscellaneous ways
you can cut your spending:
a limit on your cell phone bills and cancel any subscription service (such as
DStv or banking) that fall outside your needs. However, if you buy a magazine
each month or week, rather subscribe.
branded items if you cannot afford them, or buy them only on sale.
your own bread and grow your own vegetables.
and don’t be shy to ask for discounts. Asking doesn’t hurt and being denied a
discount doesn’t either.
Consolidated Credit, 2018, “Smart
spending tips”, https://www.consolidatedcredit.org/how-to-save-money/shop-smart/#gref.
Jaco Fouché and Jaco Barnard, 2017,
“Living financially carefree”.
Jenny Keefe, 1 January 2018, “How to
stop spending”, https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/stop-spending-budgeting-tool/#entertainment.