Cutting Costs In Tight Times

So I’ve just filled up my car and it came to a whopping R1000. That’s about three times more than when I bought the car, eight years ago.

And apart from the rising petrol price, the bad news just seems to be piling up – interest rates are climbing, electricity costs are rocketing and some grocery staples are being hard hit by the war in Ukraine.

Who ever knew that Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat, vegetable oil, and corn worldwide?

While we may feel pretty powerless with all of this, ringing in some changes on the home front can minimise the impact on our monthly budget:

1. Groceries

This probably eats up most of your monthly budget, so it’s a good place to start. Many of us have items that rattle around in the deep freeze or pantry indefinitely.

Use these before you replenish. If there are specials on items you regularly use, buy in bulk and buy unbranded items as far as possible (if the price is cheaper – always check!). Cut down your physical shopping to every two weeks or switch to online shopping and prepare a shopping list.

Leave the kids at home if you do venture to the shops as you’ll spend less! Avoid frozen or canned items – always buy fresh and buy what’s in season. Blanch and freeze your own fresh veggies.

2. Clutter

Ever heard of Swedish Death Cleaning? It’s a method of decluttering and organizing your home, so it’s not a burden on your loved ones when you die.

We don’t have to wait until we’re 65 to tackle this one. Most homes contain a treasure trove of items that haven’t been used for years. Start at one end and be ruthless.

Only keep items that you’ve used in the past six months and really you want to keep. If there are sentimental items that you just can’t part with, keep these to a minimum.

As for the rest – sell it and generate some handy cash.

3. Revamp old clothes

Do you know what’s in your wardrobe or is it stuffed so full that you can’t even find the hidden gems that you’ve forgotten about? It’s so easy with clothing accounts – we buy, we pay, we buy, we pay and this becomes an endless cycle.

How about breaking it? Pay off your clothing accounts and revamp what you have.

There are loads of ideas on the internet around repurposing old garments, and by buying less, you’ll also be part of the sustainable fashion movement, saving the planet, one garment at a time.

4. Electricity saving

Switch off lights and appliances when not in use and make sure that you buy energy-saving appliances when you need to replace them.

Install energy-saving light bulbs which may seem more expensive initially, but they will save you money in the long run. TVs and appliances still guzzle power when they’re in standby mode, so installing smart plugs will ensure that they’re switched off when not in use.

Smart plugs can be set to switch off appliances such as TVs and sound systems entirely as opposed to putting them onto standby mode which uses power.

Geysers are also a major culprit, making up around 30% of your electricity consumption. Turn your geyser temperature down to around 60 degrees which can be more reliable than switching it on and off, or install a timer to do so. Or cover your geyser with a thermal blanket that will avoid loss of heat.

If you put your mind to it, there are lots of little ways to save money. We just tend to fall into the same patterns of behavior, which will only change when we make an effort. What money-saving tips work for you?

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This article was written by Sylvia Walker, financial planner, speaker and author of smartwoman.

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7 thoughts on “Cutting Costs In Tight Times

  1. eurika.brits says:

    Cost off living is painfully expensive, I started stockpiling and only buy when things are on special and in bulk. Saves me when the price goes up.

  2. Trudy Jo says:

    The price cot my fuel has doubled in the last 3 years and I drive less!!These are great tips to making your budget work.
    I also try and fill my tank when I’m going to earn double points, or will look for specials on items I buy frequently. Something else that’s been great is using the budget tracking system on my bank app… You’d be suprised at how quickly small purchases add up.