DM168

PERSONAL FINANCE

Some savvy consumer budgeting hacks that can save you money

Some savvy consumer budgeting hacks that can save you money

You don’t need big gestures to have more money in your bank account at the end of the month. Small steps can make a big difference.

The National Budget this week did not bring any tax relief for consumers. In fact, it had the opposite effect. Not adjusting tax brackets for inflation means that bracket creep will result in taxpayers having an increase in tax without an increase in real income.

With that in mind, there has never been a better time to revisit some of the ways you can hack your budget.

Hack your spending:  What spending behaviours are undermining your long-term goals or leading to unnecessary expenditure? Go through your statements to categorise expenditure and look for patterns such as regular trips to the grocery shop, or sneaky online shopping. Once you see the habits, you can start to change them. For example, eat in more regularly, pack lunches for work and buy in bulk when you can.

Maximise your rewards programmes: You probably have rewards programmes with your bank or insurer that offer vouchers and discounts at retailers. Make sure you are aware of these benefits and take advantage of them. Many retailers also offer rewards “stamps” or points that accumulate to offer significant savings. Figure out when different loyalty programmes offer double points and then set a reminder or change your shopping patterns so that you benefit.

Websites can help you to save. The easiest way to do this is to log in for online shopping and then use it to compare prices across different retailers. There is a local website – www.guzzle.co.za – that has about 13 retailers’ specials catalogues in one place, from groceries to electronics and even DIY.

These are simple things you can do to lighten the load. But don’t take my word for it. Here are some budget and saving tips from loyal Daily Maverick Insiders:

Steer clear of cellphone contracts. Save and buy your phone cash or use the one from your last contract and switch to prepaid.

“I’ve probably saved R1,000 per month for the last 10 years. And you don’t need the most expensive phone either,” says Craig Adams.

Stop riding the clutch. Sally Hodges says: “Nine out of 10 motorists I see sit with their foot on the clutch and accelerator [at traffic lights], inching forward instead of using the handbrake. Laziness, impatience and a waste of fuel!”

Solar geyser benefit. Reader Mariam Bardien says her family bought a solar geyser three years ago and feel the true benefit of this cost saver in summer.

“Since our electricity spend is lower in summer, I budget more for electricity and whatever I have not spent at the end of the month on electricity I put into a separate account. I use this surplus amount in winter,” she says.

Ditch buying a morning coffee. “I ditched the R35 daily morning takeaway coffee en route to work,” says Joseph Talotta. “Skipping this for two months effectively covered the cost of a new Nespresso machine and I bought a cool takeaway cup!”

Once he got his Nespresso machine, Talotta continued to make smart budget choices by swapping brand names for bargains.

“Our biggest shift has been a move away from brand-name stores such as Woolworths and Checkers. Instead, we now stock up at discount clearance stores like Best Before and Dis-Mart,” he says, adding that you have to do the research to know your products and prices.

Bargains that Talotta has found include six-blade razors for R10, Italian shampoo for R30, cleaning supplies and tinned goods.

“Almost everything is R10 to R20 cheaper per unit. I even source my coffee pods for the Nespresso machine here, having bought Lavazza and Starbucks espresso pods for R39 per 10 units,” he says.

So there you have it: making small money shifts in your budget can result in a shift in disposable income without a shift in the quality of your lifestyle. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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