In 2015 I achieved a lot financially. But I also confirmed the age old saying that the more you earn the more you spend. I traveled to four countries, traveled across the country extensively for work, promoting my book and leisure.I ticked many things off my bucket list like free falling, hot air ballooning, yachting among other things.I set up a home and got married. I helped the people I loved.My 2015 goals had a lot of things involving spending large amounts of money. Thankfully, I was able to tick almost everything off.
But now in 2016, I have decided that while amazing experiences enrich my life in so many ways, it is now time to think wisely and to focus on saving.This year I am not saving to buy anything. I am saving because saving needs to be part of my culture, my life.In the past, when I saved towards something- say my car- I saved every last penny to an extent that it left me with not much to live with. After reading a bunch of articles, I have realised that saving should be so natural that it doesn’t deprive you of necessities.
It doesn’t start with saving thousands of rands. It is about cutting out the unnecessary and banking what I would have spent.I am starting with small steps to inculcate a culture of spending and to root out the bad money habits I have.Here is a list of things I am committed to:
- I shall not buy coffee at work. Working in close proximity to the city’s best coffee places, it is had not to resist a double shot of some some with extra foam. On average, a cappuccino sets me back R21 (for a small cup). That is R105 a week. But I don’t plan to cut out coffee entirely. I will invest in a R50 travel mug and make coffee at home. It is still cheaper to buy fancy coffee beans and make it at home than purchase a cup every day.
- I shall not buy bottled water. Every time I went out whether it was shopping or out on a story, I always stopped at the garage for a bottle of water. Add some gum and a packet of sweets and that R40 gone. I invested in a nice water bottle that stays in my bag and I fill up wherever I go.
- Do not buy lunch. An average lunch meal costs me nothing less than R60. While I do have a habit of carrying lunch, I decide that buying lunch is ruled out completely. So I have a nifty lunch cooler bag, an airtight lunchbox and smaller containers to carry snacks. I have also drafted a lunch plan which makes it a lot easier to buy ingredients and to plan ahead of time.
- Creating a dinner menu and sticking to it. This helps buying exactly what I need in advance and avoids quick trips to the grocery store where my basket is nothing under R200. I create a meal plan for the week, make a grocery list accordingly and prep everything in advance to save time. In a separate post on economising time, I will share what I have started doing to save time.
- Limiting eating out to once a week and/or special occasions. I am a foodie. I can’t help it. Dinning used to be a major part of my life. Trying new eateries and trying new things on a menu gave me life. But I realised that besides my weight problem this was costing me an arm and a leg. Also, it became so bad that after a long day at work I would stop and buy a burger and a huge pile of fries to deal with my stressful day even though I had a kitchen full of groceries. While limiting eating out has a more healthy motive, it would save me a lot. An average dinner is nothing under R100. You do the sums.
- Staying away from debt. I have always been pretty good in this regard. I only ever opened a credit card to improve my credit ratings as advised by many financial advisors. If you want to buy a house or car one day you have to have a good credit record. I have often gotten tempted to buy a load of unnecessary things on my credit card simply because it didn’t affect my budget right away. It does. Credit cards are the devil. But in this modern age we need it for middle class things like booking flights. My plan is to not buy something unless I can afford the full price right away. Otherwise I shall save towards it.
- Regard a portion of savings like a monthly bill. My husband and I have started an initiative where we regard a certain amount of money as a monthly expense. We have to ‘pay’ an investment account every month. That money is untouchable. Also, it is not very large so we don’t feel it on out pockets. When we calculated how much was can save at the end of the year, it motivated us to create the debit order. In our minds it is a bill to be paid.
- Pay for things in advance. We just started doing this and it is proving to be a big money saver. I have always been a spontaneous person. I woke up one day and decided to travel so I booked a ticket and went. That is the type of person I always was. But I have realised that I have paid double or more for many things because I didn’t plan in advance. This works for ticket sales, presents etc. We are planning a holiday later in the year, and Qatar Airways was having a sale we booked almost a year before the time. That money would have just been wasted in the year anyways and we saved a minimum of R10 000. We also created a list of people that we need to buy presents for and look out for sales etc. I bought a present for someone on sale and saved R400.
Besides the terrible economic times our country is in, I believe that there is more blessing in your money if you save. Having lived pay check to pay check for a very long time, I have realised that regardless of how much I earned I will always be broke a few days before pay day. I want to stop that cycle. I will let you know how it went next year this time.