Home Money and Business How to cut back on expenses to save money.

How to cut back on expenses to save money.

by Evenes Ruth Mafupa

I went into a shoe shop at the mall, looking for some shoes for my boys because my boys go through shoes like nobody’s business. If they don’t become too small, they will be so torn you wont want to see them in those shoes anymore. So, the shop attendant guided me to the branded shoes. You know the ones that I mean. I am not against brands but I think for growing boys who go up a size every six months sometimes, spending on big brands is not within my budget. And I know, I have no business appearing rich. I can’t afford spending R1000 plus on shoes for one boy every 6 months or even 12 months. I told the attendant I wanted more functionality and durability, not a big brand. You will not believe what he told me. He said, then I will have to get white people’s shoes. I did not know white people have their shoes and black people theirs. That was the first time me hearing it. I told him this and he confirmed that this was indeed true and working in a shoe shop, he had seen the trend himself. Most black people go for the big brand names while the white people go for the simpler and cheaper shoes. I was quite shocked considering, the low income earners are mostly blacks.  I said I did’t mind the white people’s shoes and they are the ones I bought.

Which is one of the things I have told myself. Functionality and quality over a brand name. I know some brands go with high quality but there are times when you don’t really need high quality especially when it comes to my boys shoes and pants. They grow out of them so quickly anyway so I only need a life cycle of 12 months maximum. This allows me  to save a lot of money because I do not buy big brands when it is not necessary but rather look for appropriateness of buying quality at every given time. For example, I will spend significantly big on an iron because there I want durability and efficiency more than anything and I don’t want to keep spending on an iron every year. But on my boys clothes, one thing for sure is, they will grow out of them every year and I will need to replace. So, just decent quality is enough for now. Even for my clothes, I go for more functionality than brands. Me being able to make most of my clothes also allows me to save a lot. I don’t want to appear rich while getting into debt in order to afford expensive clothes.

I try not to to buy by impulse, especially on clothes. So, I don’t have a clothing account. My expenditure on clothing is planned for and a budget set aside for it. There is never an emergency to buy clothes. If there is no money to spend on clothes, then we will have to do with what we have and it’s not like I or any of the kids are walking bare. That way, it controls my buying pattern especially for clothes which can be unnecessary most of the times. I also try and ask myself if I really need that piece of clothing or check if I don’t have a version of what I now want to buy already before spending my money. I find that most of the times, I already have something similar that is already serving the function that I need for anything new that I might want to buy. Sometimes, what drives you to buy new stuff is just the want for something new but then you should be able to afford it and if you still want to save significantly, then that might be something to think about before buying stuff.

I also buy a lot of things when they are marked down. So, for groceries, like washing powder, baked beans, pasta etc, I buy in bulk when they are on sale and keep topping up whenever they are on sale again. That way, I don’t run out and need to buy expensive home supplies. Even clothes, I will wait for a sale or some coupon code. The good thing is a mainly shop online so the coupon code comes to my email and I will browse around the site to see if there’s anything I need for the family or for myself. I also shop presents online way before an event so that I can make use of a sale or a coupon code. Yes, I’m frugal that way. I also book for  holidays way in advance and will use a sale or coupon code for it too if I can. Why pay more if I can pay less?

I plan ahead and make sure I stay organised to save way more. When travelling for long distances alone, for example going to Zimbabwe, I will go by bus and book way in time for the cheapest fare possible. Driving is way too expensive when you are alone. Besides the fact that you will be so tired when you get there and when you drive back. I flew to Malawi last year and I booked for my ticket 9 weeks in advance and I got my air ticket R4000 cheaper than if I had booked with only a week to go. Being super organised allows you to save a lot of money and meet your savings goals.

Only using domestic help when I need it most, is one of the changes I have had to make. Domestic help is very expensive and it’s all good if you can afford it or when you have young kids and really need the help. So, when my kids became older, I really didn’t need domestic help that much except once or twice a week. This has also allowed my boys and let me say the rest of the family, me included to be able to pick up after ourselves and be responsible for cleaning up, cooking and all the chores to run a home. This has also freed up some cash to allow us to save a bit more.

Try and eat out less. It is more expensive to eat out than to cook at home. If you really want to save, buying uncooked food and then preparing it yourself at home will tend to be much cheaper and in some instances more healthier than eating out. You can also prepare lunch boxes for work and school so that more money is not sent buying lunch at school or at work.

Check your medical bills against what you are paying for medical aid. Sometimes there is no use paying for a comprehensive medical aid if you are generally healthy. Al you may need is a hospital plan in the case you have an accident and you need to be hospitalised. Have a look at it. If you are generally healthy, you may need to go see the doctor, a maximum of 3 times a year including dentist appointment. That will come to at most R1650 a year at R550 consultation fee for each visit. Medication will account to about R1000 a year and that’s even pushing it. Remember you are generally healthy. So in a year, you will spend about R2650 on medical expenses per person. And how much do you pay for a comprehensive cover with your medical aid? Do the maths.

Learning to live within my means is also what I am working on. You can’t spend more than what you earn. You need to carve a lifestyle that is in tune with what you can afford. Appearing rich is a waste of time and harmful to your financial well being. You need to be rich and one way of doing that is cutting back on your expenses so that you can save, invest and build real wealth. Driving an expensive car that you can hardly afford the monthly repayments let alone the insurance or buying expensive clothes that you know you can’t really afford if it were not for that store credit, will land you in financial ruin. Cut back on your spending and learn to live within your means.

That’s basically all. Let me summarise for you real quickly.

  • Buy functionality over brands.
  • Know when to invest in quality. Sometimes you don’t need high quality stuff.
  • Buy stuff because you need to and not on impulse.
  • Only have accounts for big purchases like a house or a car. Other things can be bought with cash when you have it.
  • Live within your means. Don’t follow trends blindly.
  • Afford your purchases first and not to rely on credit.
  • Cut on domestic expenditure like domestic help and eating out.
  • Carry lunch to work and prepare your kids some lunch for school. Buying lunch is more expensive than preparing some at home.
  • Assess you medical needs and get cover for what is necessary only and save the rest.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, you can read it here, do a budget first before you spend your money so that you can have a comprehensive view of your income and your expenses. That way, you will have a better idea of how you are currently spending your hard earned cash and how you can cut back on what is not important in order to allow you to save.

I hope this will help you to start saving no matter how little you start with and eventually be able to grow your savings, a rand at a time until you reach financial freedom. And by the way, I am not a financial adviser and I am not trying to be one. I am just sharing some of the things I have done to help me save every month and I hope can help you too. Talk to a financial adviser if you want to know more and to reach your financial goals. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments and if there is a topic that you would want me to chat on, let me know.

Another thing. I’m nowhere close to where I want be be as far as building wealth is concerned. But I am definitely not where I was 5 years ago or even, a year ago. So start building now. In a year you will realise how much you would have achieved. And while you are at it, live, buy ice cream, go out for dinner or movies and spoil yourself once in a while. Just make sure you are making informed decisions and living within your means

Blessings to you and yours. Hugs and kisses.