The cost of living has gone up so much in the last few months that many of us have had to adapt to doing more with less.
South Africans are facing a whopping increase in electricity prices, ongoing increases in the price of fuel, food and other goods – due in part to transportation cost increases as well as increased interest rates, which could rise even more at the next meeting.
What is there to do? A lot, says Cheslyn Jacobs, TymeBank Chief Commercial Officer. It requires a change in lifestyle, but it can – and should – be done. Here he unpacks a few changes that consumers can make to cut back on costs.
Change to house brands
Take a few staples like rice, cereal and household cleaning items. Buying house brands for these items can shave off a few rands per item, which all adds up.
Buy in bulk
It pays to plan and if you can work out a weekly or even monthly food budget and stick to it, you will see the financial benefits.
Grow your own
The cost of petrol and diesel have continued to add to the financial pressure, with the former having hit close to R26/litre recently. Given the average tank takes 50 litres, that means it costs around R1300 to fill up your car. Ten years ago, the same amount of fuel would have cost around R500. While there is some good news ahead for motorists given the petrol price has come down this month, it will still be extremely expensive to drive a car.
While this happens, consumers are advised to cut down on their fuel costs by either sharing rides – for instance if you work at the same office – or by visiting retailers that are closest to you and that ideally have free parking. You can even shop for groceries online, for instance from retailers including Pick n Pay, Spar, Woolworths, and Checkers, and get them delivered that same day. This again cuts down on the use of fuel and parking. Now is also the time to think about trading in your fuel-guzzling vehicle and changing to a brand that is far lighter on fuel but still meets your needs.
Entertain for less
Just because the price of goods has gone up, it doesn’t mean you need to cut back on having fun. Instead of producing a meal on your own for friends or family, ask them to bring a dish to contribute to the table. Whether you call it a potluck or ‘bring-and-share,’ everyone gets involved while your costs to host are brought down radically. You still enjoy your time with loved ones, without an exorbitant bill.
Save on bank fees
It costs money to put your cash or income into a bank, and most charge excessive fees for even basic transactions. By swapping to a more cost-effective bank and being more mindful of what you spend on fees, you can save hundreds of rands, providing you with additional income for other items.
Buy now and pay later
There are various buy-now-pay-later options available to help consumers stretch their budget and still get the items they need when they need them. These short-term financing options, such as MoreTyme, can help savvy shoppers spread the cost of purchases over various months, interest free. This is a great alternative to using your credit card or applying for a loan.
Make your own
There is often a lot of pressure associated with giving gifts, especially at times like the festive season or birthdays. Instead of splashing out on individual gifts, consider gift-pooling – this is where several people put in some money to buy a bigger gift – or make something yourself.
A beautiful photo frame with memories spent together, or a batch of freshly made cookies, wrapped up in special gift paper, are also meaningful and personal.
“It is highly likely that the Reserve Bank will raise interest rates again to curb inflation – making everything you buy on credit (home, car, clothes, etc.), more expensive. With salaries or incomes not rising in line with increasing living costs, consumers are urged to find innovative ways to spend less to stay financially afloat,” concludes Jacobs.