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You can track how you're spending using pen and paper or apps. Picture: 123RF/FIZKES
You can track how you're spending using pen and paper or apps. Picture: 123RF/FIZKES

The economic environment, coupled with challenges of income instability, petrol and electricity price increases requires consumers to have a handle on how to manage their expenses effectively, focus on their essentials, and curb unnecessary spending. 

Dhashni Naidoo, FNB consumer education programme manager says, “In a household budget, expenses can be categorised into needs and wants. Needs are essential things in our lives such as food, housing and medical costs. Wants are luxuries and things that we can possibly do without such as entertainment, luxury clothes and eating out.  

Expenses can be further categorised into fixed, variable or changing expenses. Fixed expenses are the costs that you can plan for because they don’t change from month to month such as rent, insurance or funeral covers. Variable expenses, on the other hand, are expenses that keep changing based on usage. For example, electricity, groceries, airtime or data costs.”  

Naidoo shares five tips to help you save on current expenses:

Utilities 

  • Switch off appliances such as computers once they’re fully charged, and lights that are not in use. 
  • Switch off your geyser during the day or at night (off-peak), or invest in a timer. 
  • Check for leaks on taps and fix these because they can cause wastage and increase your monthly spend. Reduce the use of water by cutting down on watering the lawn, for example.   
  • Use data and airtime sparingly. Always shop around for the best prices. 
Dhashni Naidoo, FNB consumer education programme manager. Picture: SUPPLIED/FNB
Dhashni Naidoo, FNB consumer education programme manager. Picture: SUPPLIED/FNB

Subscriptions 

  • Check if you still require all your various subscriptions and club memberships. For example, do you require a pay-TV subscription?  And if so, can you reduce your expenses by carefully choosing an option suitable for your pocket?
  • Review all your various subscriptions to magazines, clubs and gyms to see if you are using these. 
  • Ask yourself — how much do I use this? Do I really need this? Can I live without this? 

Entertainment 

  • Look for activities you can do at home or for free as a family, reducing spending on transport and entrance fees.  
  • Watch your spending on birthdays, gifts and celebrations, and find less costly ways to treat your loved ones and  celebrate special moments.  

Food 

  • Cook at home as much as possible, cut down on takeaways, and when going to work or school, prepare your lunch at home. This will mean you spend less on takeaways and convenience food bought at petrol stations or at work.  
  • Reduce the number of times you host braais and parties to save on food. Encourage friends to bring and share when hosting. 

Track your spending 

  • You can track how you’re spending using pen and paper, or Excel sheets, and by collecting all your receipts and slips and adding up how you spend. Use apps that track your spending and alert you when you’re overspending. Some network providers allow you to put a limit on how much airtime or data you want to spend a month, alerting you when you’re close to reaching your limit. Certain banks and finance apps have similar trackers to help you manage your expenses and send you alerts if you exceed, for example, 50% or 80% of your allocation.  

“Look at all your expenses and make a list of things you should stop spending on, what you can reduce spending on, and things you can keep spending on. If you want to reduce your spending, you have to make the decision and then make the necessary sacrifices.”

For more tips on how to be financially smart, visit the FNB website

This article was paid for by FNB.

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