The current economic environment coupled with further challenges of income instability, petrol and electricity price increases requires consumers to have a good handle on how to manage their expenses effectively, focus on their essentials and curb unnecessary spending.
Dhashni Naidoo, FNB Consumer Education Programme Manager says, “In a household budget, expenses can be categorised into needs and wants. Needs are essential things in our lives such as food, housing and medical costs. Wants are luxuries and things that we can possibly do without such as entertainment, luxury clothes, eating out.
Expenses can be further categorised into fixed, variable or changing expenses. Fixed expenses are the costs that you can plan for because they don’t change from month to month such as rent, insurance or funeral covers.
Variable expenses on the other hand, are expenses that keep changing based on usage. For example, electricity, groceries, airtime or data costs.”
Naidoo shares 5 tips to help you save on current expenses:
- Switch off appliances, such as computers once fully charged, and lights that are not in use.
- Switch off your geyser during the day or at night (off-peak) or invest in a timer.
- Check for leaks on taps and fix these because they can cause wastage which will increase your monthly spend. In addition, reduce usage of water for example cut down on watering the lawn.
- Use data and airtime sparingly. Always shop around for the best prices.
- Check if you still require all your various subscriptions and club memberships. For example, do you require a pay-tv subscription? And if so, can you reduce your expenses by carefully choosing an option suitable for your pocket?
- Review all your various subscriptions for things such as magazines, clubs, gym etc. to see if you are using these.
- Ask yourself – how much do I use this? Do I really need this? Can I live without this?
- Look for activities you can do at home or for free as a family, reducing spending on transport and entrance fees.
- Watch your spending on birthdays, gifts and celebrations and find less costly ways to give gifts and to celebrate special moments.
- Cook at home as much as possible, cut down on take-aways, when going to work or school, prepare your lunch at home. This will mean you spend less on take-aways and convenience food bought at petrol stations or at work.
- Reduce the number of times you host braais and parties to save on food. Encourage friends to bring and share when hosting.
Track your spending
- You can track how you are spending using pen and paper, excel sheets, collecting all your receipts, slips etc and adding up how you spend. You can also use apps that help you track your spend and give you alerts when you are over-spending. Certain phone providers allow you to put a limit to how much airtime/data you want to spend per month, and if you are 70%, 80% or 90% to reaching this limit, you are sent alerts. Certain banks and finance apps have similar trackers to help you manage your expenses and they send you alerts if you exceed 50% of your allocation, 80% and so on.
“Look at all your expenses and make a list of things you should STOP spending on, things you can REDUCE spending on, and things you can KEEP spending on. If you want to reduce, you have to make the decision and act accordingly making the necessary sacrifices,” concludes Naidoo.