Nifty ways to save thousands on your monthly household costs

14 August 2019 - 06:00 By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER
Involve the whole family in coming up with cost-saving ideas that will allow you to plan for the good times.
Involve the whole family in coming up with cost-saving ideas that will allow you to plan for the good times.
Image: Supplied

Rent out a room in your home, eat fewer side dishes for dinner, drive less, stream movies and take showers instead of baths.

All these measures are likely to put more than R2,000 back in your pocket – if you stick to them.

While the interest rate cut may add some savings to South Africans’ monthly household budget, Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group, said some creative thinking could help a build a financial buffer.

Rising costs and interest rate fluctuations pose a big threat to home budgets.

"Lifestyle and habits cost money and you can often find savings that you had not even considered," said Seeff.

The annual Old Mutual savings and investment monitor survey – which tracks shifts in the financial attitudes and behaviour of SA’s working metropolitan population – found a significant increase in the number of households experiencing financial stress.

One thousand people took part in the survey, which showed an average 25% increase in households suffering major stress due to money issues.

Lower-income households were under the most pressure but middle to upper-income families also showed higher levels of financial stress as well, the survey found.

Lifestyle and habits cost money and you can often find savings that you had not even considered
Samuel Seeff,  Seeff Property Group chairman

Only 7% of respondents say they are living comfortably, while 29% say they are "doing alright". Nearly a third felt they’re just getting by, followed closely by 29% who are "finding it difficult".

Economist Dawie Roodt said many South Africans were not aware of what was happening with their financial affairs.

"People have this nagging feeling that there is something wrong, but they don’t know exactly what. Even in these tough times, people must try to save 20%-25% of their incomes. Having savings will you to avoid the debt trap.

"I strongly believe the reason why we save, work and invest is to enjoy life. Spoil yourself with that overseas holiday or a new car. But plan for these things, like a few years in advance. Avoid loans as much as possible," said Roodt.

Cash is king
Do not spend unnecessarily Cash is king
Image: Rawpixel on Unsplash

Seeff’s tips for middle-income households to put more than R2,500 back into their household budget every month include:

Buy a home below your means

Aim to buy for only 90% of what you can afford on monthly bond repayments. Invest more cash as a deposit, or buy lower. A R1.8m home loan costs about R18,500 a month compared with R16,500 for a R1.6m loan, thus resulting in a saving of about R2,000 a month on your bond repayments. 

Rent out a room

Consider turning an outside room into a rental unit or rent out a room (if you can). Short-stays are a popular option and you can earn upwards of R500 a night or as much as R2,500-R4,500 per month for a room or studio, depending on the area. Although subject to tax, you can still add a bit of extra cash into your household budget.

Satellite TV and cellphones

Consider downgrading your satellite to streaming and save as much as R500 a month. Don’t take extras on your cellphone contract and stretch the time before renewing it to save a bit. Use apps to cut your call and message costs and make use of free Wi-Fi when you can.

Water, electricity and energy efficiency

Costs are rising rapidly, so start switching to smart energy by replacing appliances and lighting with energy-efficient products. Keep doors and windows closed in winter and open in summer for cost-free heating and cooling. Use energy-efficient heaters. Turn your geyser down and get a geyser blanket. Only boil as much water as you need and keep lights off. You can save R500 a month minimum.

Washing and water

Shower rather than bath. Use a dishwasher, it takes less water and you can wait until it is full before running a load. Use an automatic washing machine, it takes less water and effort compared to a top loader.

Meals, groceries and cleaning

Make daily lunches and cut the extra sides at dinner. Make Monday to Friday easy meal dishes and "splash" on the weekend. Cut out processed and fast foods by making your own. Prep meals on weekends.

Cut your cleaning materials to what you actually need. Cut the plastic and packaging, so adding to environmental conservation. Smart shopping and cooking can easily save R1,000-R2,000 a month.

Waterwise gardening

Plant indigenous. It adds to conservation, reduces your carbon footprint and uses less water. Reduce lawn with hard landscaping such as pavers and stones. Use container gardening for smaller gardens. Rainwater harvesting is vital for all watering and non-potable needs including swimming pool top-ups.

Drive less, walk more

If not using public transport, join a lift club. Social media groups make it easy to find lift clubs. If driving, plan your routes and shop on the way from work, or confine shopping to once a week. Drive less, walk more and get financially fit. You can save R500 a month (or more) with a lift club versus your car.