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10 tips to spring clean your budget

If the last time you reviewed your budget was in January, consider the significant changes that have taken place since then.
Now is a good time to look at your budget and give it a fresh feel and a spring clean. Picture: Shutterstock

Spring is in the air, and while we get ready to embrace the warm days of summer, we should also brace ourselves for the financial challenges that lie ahead. Giving your budget a good spring clean is a great place to start.

With a double digit fuel price increase expected in September, consumers are faced with yet another financial blow. Combine this with inflation and keeping budgets in check becomes more important than ever. 

Here are 10 tips for reviving and refreshing your finances:

1. Update your income and expenses

By this time of year, many people will have received their annual increase. Have you adjusted your budget accordingly? If the last time you reviewed your budget was in January, consider the significant changes that have taken place since then, like the Vat increase and the numerous petrol price increases. An up-to-date budget gives you a good idea of where you need to save more, or where you now have a couple of rands free to pay off debt a bit faster.

2. Be smart with your spending

It’s not always easy to keep track of your spending, especially when making payments and purchases happens at the tap of a card or a click of the mouse. Luckily, advancements in technology have also made tracking your spending easy too. Take advantage are various budget planners and apps available like 22sevenMyFinancialLifeSpending Tracker.

 3. Make some changes behind the wheel

There’s nothing you can do about the petrol price increase but there are things you can do to help your tank go further. Did you know that at 110km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at a more moderate 90km/h? Add to this: keeping a safe following distance, avoiding harsh braking and acceleration, and regular vehicle maintenance checks, and you could reduce your fuel spend significantly.  

4. Update your insurance

Now is the perfect time to ensure that your home contents insurance is up-to-date. If you’ve bought new items for your home, the amount you’re currently insured for may not be sufficient and you could be underinsured. On the flipside, some items may have devalued, you may have sold items or downsized and may want to reduce your home contents cover, which could save you a substantial amount of money

5. Delete unnecessary and outdated fees

Are you paying subscription fees for magazines you don’t read? Membership fees for a gym you never go to? Fees for a bank account you no longer use? This is wasted money that could be going towards saving or paying off debt, so cancel these to free up extra cash.

6. Budget for debt repayments

From credit cards to store cards, it’s easy to get carried away buying on credit. Go through all your statements and pay off outstanding debts or at least put a plan in place to do so. It’s a good idea to pay off debt with the highest interest rate first. So if you have a mortgage bond at an interest rate of 10%, a retail card at a rate of 20% and a personal loan at a rate of 25%, pay off the loan first.

7. Kick bad habits

From piling up paperwork and not keeping accurate records, to slacking on saving, we’ve all done it from time to time but when it becomes a habit, it’s time to take action and make a change. So wherever there are areas to improve, like brushing up on your admin skills or revisiting your saving goals, there’s something that each of us can do to improve our financial health.

 8. Compromise and reprioritise

That pricey perfume, those designer sneakers, and those many meals out… they all add up and sometimes that leaves you making compromises where you shouldn’t. So to ensure you have enough money for the things you and your family need first, and then compromise on the things you want – find a more affordable fragrance, do without the sneakers or have less meals out a month.

 9. Reap from your rewards programmes

Many of us are part of loyalty programmes offered by entities from banks and supermarkets to healthcare providers. Understanding how to make the most out of these programmes is critical to really enjoying their benefits – from earning the most amount of points to receiving the highest possible discount or cash back. Read the terms and conditions and frequently asked questions on the relevant websites to ensure you know exactly how and when you should be rewarded.

10. Stick to your saving goals

Saving is hard but it’s not impossible!  There are many different ways to save from setting up a monthly debit order to an investment account and opening a tax-free savings account to increasing your pension fund contribution and requesting the 13th cheque option from your employer. It’s best to build savings into your budget as a non-negotiable monthly expense, which should help you to be more disciplined and save more.

Implementing simple changes like taking advantage of technology, kicking bad habits and saying goodbye to unnecessary expenses will go a long way to regaining and maintaining control of your budget – putting the spring back in your financial step.

Susan Steward, marketing manager of Budget Insurance.


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1. Review your last 3 months worth spending. Catorgise items in simple terms.

2. Make an ideal budget and with your last 3 months worth of spending reviewed put in a % of additional spending provision. This could be between 5% & 15%.

3. Savings is only saving when you don’t spend it. Draw cash as oppose to swiping, yes it’s more expensive but it will save you because you will not spend more than what you have in your hand and whatever is left put it in a steal piggy bank that only gets opened once a year.

4. Know before you spend.
I’ve got a rule with my wife, before we leave the house we write down what we intend to purchase, she hated it in the being but knowing what you have before you buy is the best way to avoid unnecessary spending.

5. Avoid point systems, they are there to encourage people to spend money.
Discovery car insurance is a great example of meeting a certain criteria qualifying for point by doing things just so that you can get a reduction. Do a bit of research and you will get the same value without all the effort and extra expense.

6. Most S.A. dont live far above the poverty line, one bad month it’s gonners for most people. This article obviously talks to the well above average . Like most adverts and product sales.

7. If you have debt, which you most probably do, target the lowest hanging fruit, paying the minimum on you bigger debts and as much as possible on your small debts will eventually free up cash that can wipe out the big ones.

8. Avoid debt
In S.A. most people purchase cars 10 times their salary, avoid this and rather go smaller or second hand, there are plenty of deal out there.
Cell phone contracts take approximately 6 years to pay off, because every year the phone arrives. AVOID SMALL DEBTS they add up quickly.

9. Do it yourself
If you can do something then avoid using. Most brokers have a Pay me first policy, do you own investing. Something like Bitcoin, shares and Goverment Bonds are actually easy to get into and because YOU ARE AND ADULT WITH A BRAIN manage your own money.

10. Money is a good slave, but a poor master.

Bonus point.
11. When buying items round off your expenses to the nearest 10 25 or R50. Using an app like Monefy to capture your expenses is a great way to save whilst you are spending.

At the end of the month, reconcile and put your savings away.

Good points.
To supplement “don’t do debt” …. if you absolutely must buy on the card, be sure to CLEAN the card at the end on the month!

# 3 Saving- People do not save ! Not only has the bank interest rate not beat the (real) inflation rate over the last 20 years BUT you have to keep about R 28,000 in your account EVERY MONTH just to cover your monthly fees.So they really are not saving.

End of comments.





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