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The Strategies South Africans Are Using To Cut Expenses 

Mar 21, 2024 | Money

The past couple of years have been tremendously difficult for the average South African. Even prior to the global pandemic and the knock-on economic effects, South Africans were struggling to find ways to make ends meet. Now, people are taking a more proactive approach and discovering a resilience that they didn’t know they possessed.  

If you’re looking for ways to cope with the onslaught of monthly bills, then take a closer look at the insights we have gleaned from surviving the past few trying years. 

Understand Your Expenses 

It’s quite difficult to make any decisions if you don’t have an overview of what’s happening. Essentially, you need to take the time to understand what’s coming in, what’s going out, and where the holes are.  

A key way to organise your expenses is to separate them into the main categories, such as housing (rent or bond, utilities, and other running costs), food, transport, savings, education, and entertainment. These tend to be the major monthly expenses for most households – and also where you can save the most if you do it right. 

What To Scale Down 

When it comes to decreasing your expenses, you need to separate the big tickets items from the smaller ones. The smaller expenses are simpler to deal with, because it generally includes changing how you shop. For example, you may need to buy groceries in bulk, opt for generics, or shop around for better deals. Many people have even found both health and budgetary benefits in switching to a more vegetable-focused diet in order to cut down on the expense of meat. 

When it comes to big expenses, you need to think a bit more about the sacrifice that it will take to downscale. Think about accommodation. You might have to move back home, move away from urban centres to less expensive housing further out, or even to move to a bigger house and close down your offices so that you can work from home.  

Another big expense is transport. What you decide to do depends entirely on your situation, but this is a major expense that you can cut back on. For instance, you could sell your vehicle in favour of something more affordable so that your monthly repayments and fuel expenses are lower. You could also get more inventive and start or join a ride share club with a few colleagues to bring fuel costs down. 

Our final big expense that you could make cost-cutting changes to is education. Many parents have found that it’s cheaper to homeschool their children, with some schools offering online programmes at much lower costs. Other parents have started switching to good government schools, which are must cheaper than private tuition. 

These can be difficult decisions to make, but the reality is that tough times call for tough decisions. 

What Not To Cut 

Most people think that the key to reducing expenses is, well, to reduce expenses. But in your haste to cut back, you could very well make your situation worse.  

These are expenses you don’t want to cut:  

  • Car Insurance: The costs of an accident coming out of your own pocket are far worse than the monthly premiums, and it could cost more to get cover at a later date as insurers don’t look favourably on long uninsured periods. You can compare car insurance providers to determine which one best suits your risk profile and budget.
  • WiFi: The internet has become a lifeline, so not having access could impair things like banking, staying connected, shopping online for deals, and searching for better job opportunities.  
  • Emergency Fund: It seems silly to keep paying when you’re up against the edge of financial trouble, but even if you reduce the amount you’re saving, keep putting cash aside. Not just for a real rainy day, but for the sake of the habit that could easily be broken. 
  • Life Insurance: Avoid cashing this in, because life is unexpected, and anything can happen at any time. Additionally, you might be rejected when you want to take this policy out again at a later stage or you could pay higher premiums as a result. Life insurance is one of the policies that you should not be without.
  • Streaming Services: This is an odd thing to avoid cancelling and the reason is that if you’re cutting back on entertainment, it makes sense to have something low-cost for the family to enjoy rather than the hefty bill of taking everyone out for a meal or movie. 

Feeling Informed? 

Trimming expenses isn’t limited to just one area of life; it permeates every facet of our daily existence. From smart grocery shopping to energy-efficient practices, there are myriad ways to tighten the belt. And if you find yourself strapped for cash, consider exploring car refinancing options. By renegotiating your car loan terms, you could ease the financial burden and create more breathing room in your budget.

Remember, small changes add up, and every Rand saved contributes to a more secure financial future. You can also take a look at our top 10 financial tips for South Africans in 2024.

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