Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

If you've ever watched an episode of Extreme Cheapskates, you'll know there are people who are willing to go to incredible extremes to save. If you'd like to be a little more frugal but aren't sure where to begin, your budget is the first step. The second is looking at everyday ways to cut down on small-scale spending.

Being frugal may draw some laughs from those around you, but you're the one responsible for making sure you make ends meet.

Without turning into a miser, try to follow some of the tips below so that you don't let small amounts of money slip through your fingers.

Cutting down at home

Cut spending on electricity: stoves and washing machines tend to drain power and increase your electricity bill. Switch off any appliances that you can when you're not using them.

Sell your electric heater and get a gas one. Fill hot-water bottles from the hot tap before switching off your geyser, or fill them up when making a cup of coffee or tea, to avoid boiling the kettle repeatedly.

Cutting down at work

Ditch the shop-bought coffee: a cup costs about R20. If you buy three cups a day, you spend around R1300 a month. For those wanting an energy boost, multivitamins cost between R150 and R250. Cheaper than coffee and healthier.

Take a packed lunch to work: R50 spent on lunch every day is about R1100 a month. Add one morning coffee for R20 and a snack from the vending machine for R10, and you're spending R1760 a month on takeaways.

Car pool: find out if any colleagues who live in your area are willing to share rides to and from work with you.

Look inside your purse

Bank-account review: take a look at how much you're spending on banking fees and what you're getting in return. Your plan may not be suitable for you. Switching banks or downgrading to a cheaper plan can save you a great deal of money.

Collect your change: you'd be surprised at how much you can accumulate in a few months. This can also double up as a "small crimes" jar - for fines such as swearing.

Your phone and data usage

Switch off apps: limit data usage by regularly checking to see which apps you don't use at night and turning those off. You should also disable background apps so that your data isn't disappearing in the background.

Find a plan that works for you: sometimes prepaid works, but, depending on how frequently you use your phone, a top-up-style plan might work for you. Some providers offer this without you having to buy a phone.

Entertainment

Eat before going out: this is a great hack. You won't have to order a big, expensive meal. Also, avoid alcohol and don't order "still" water. No one's going to judge you for drinking good old tap water. Be aware that eating before going out doesn't apply to drinking alcohol - unless you're not driving.

Go Dutch: if you're out with friends, insist on splitting the bill according to what each person ordered. You might become "that friend", but few things are more disheartening than paying far more than what your cheap meal cost. Put that phone calculator to good use.

Carry cash: if you don't want to end up paying for food and drinks you had no intention of buying, carry only the amount of cash you intend to spend. Don't forget to tip.

• Tsamela is the founder of piggiebanker.com. You can follow her on Twitter @DineoTsamela

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