Top money saving tips from financial advisers

By Janice Roberts

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Current economic conditions see salaries being stretched thin – and with rising interest rates, fuel costs and the general cost of living, most South Africans are seriously feeling the pinch.

Based on the premise that financial advisers have the inside track on saving money, Lisa Griffiths, an Associate Director at BDO Wealth Advisers, Cape Town, shares her best money saving tips.

Have a “no-spend” day. Griffiths explains that this is a day when you don’t spend any money at all – not cash, credit card or cheque.

“I call this a Golden Day and try to do this at least once a week,” says Griffiths. “You may say that one can overcome this principle by pre-purchasing and planning, but it is not that easy and makes you think about money and how to avoid spending it. This strategy imbues in one the habit of looking for cashless (i.e. free) alternatives (e.g. parking) at every opportunity.”

Change a family habit that costs unnecessarily. For example, if the family frequently drinks fizzy sodas or fresh fruit juices, change to ‘dilute with water’ cordials. If the family goes to the movies once a week, change to once per month and substitute with a games evening at home.

Make a list of your debit orders from your bank statement and critically examine them, cancelling those that are not necessary.

Some are essential, such as insurance (but may need reviewing), whilst others may have been in place for years and you no longer really need or want them. An example of these is a magazine or newspaper subscription which you no longer find time to read. Others may have incrementally increased in price over the years and are now too expensive to justify.

Many of us spend far too much money on take-out and restaurant meals. If your family regularly buys take-out meals, try to buy half as much (portion wise) and supplement this with a home-made salad. Or spend time cooking as a family, this way you save money and also spend a bit of quality time connecting as a family at the end of a busy day.

The advertising hype for loyalty and reward programs seduces people with promises of improved health, multiple savings and an enhanced lifestyle. And indeed there are many who benefit from these programs.

However, if you are a member of a loyalty/rewards program you must use it regularly to justify the cost. Use it or lose it and save on the monthly membership fee. If you use it wisely it will serve you well.

Purchasing your household groceries online really does save money.

Firstly the specials all come up on the first page and you are able to sort any item by price and therefore easily make an informed and rational choice. Impulse purchases are also minimised and the delivery charge is insignificant compared to the overall savings.

One of the drawbacks of credit and debit cards is that they encourage you to spend more than you intend to by giving you easy access to more money. With cash, spending more than you intended requires going to a bank or ATM to get more and then going back to the store to complete the purchase. For most people, this provides time to reconsider whether they need to spend this extra money.

“Some of the smallest changes in your lifestyle can reap the biggest benefits when it comes to stretching your money further. When you understand that saving money with your family doesn’t have to be all about extreme measures or deprivation of quality time, you might be more inclined to make tiny changes and save more.”

“Fiscal discipline is just one part of your financial planning function. But it is a critical task. Without a budget and keeping a check on your expenditure, you cannot have a financial plan. Take control of your expenditure – and reap the benefits, financially and intellectually,” concludes Griffiths.

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