Whenever we are confronted with the reality of saving more and spending less, we reach for options like cutting back on transport or buying groceries from traditionally cheaper stores. We believe that buying the cheaper laundry detergent will save us money or we opt for buying in bulk, believing the product label that promises paying less when buying more. Now you are carpooling to work, you are using more than one cap of detergent to get the job done and you have 100 rolls of toilet paper that doesn’t fit into your grocery cupboard. These small sacrifices might save you a few rands here and there but they won’t turn you into a millionaire any time soon. One option you should be reaching for when the going gets tough is looking at the cost of your bad habits.
If you are a smoker, the average pack of cigarettes will cost you approximately R 30.00 per pack. Let’s say you smoke one pack per day, you are spending roughly around R 950 per month and R 11 000 per year on cigarettes alone. You might argue that you don’t smoke that much per day, so you can half the total estimate – R 5500 per year is still a lot of money. Deciding to quit, and following through with your plan, might sound like the hardest thing to do but the financial savings you will enjoy should be seen as a big motivation to kick the habit – apart from the health benefits of course. One thousands rand per month can put you in the financial position of possibly joining a medical aid, which can be quite handy if you used to smoke 20 a day, or even saving monthly towards an emergency or retirement fund. Most insurance companies will also reward you or no longer penalise you once you’ve kicked the habit, saving you even more money on a monthly basis.
Another habit South Africans indulge in way too easily is eating takeaway meals. You can blame Eskom as much as you like for resorting to this option whenever the dreaded load shedding strikes, but in reality your laziness is costing you money. As a citizen of Mzansi, you should know by now that load shedding is a reality, sometimes catching even the best of us by surprise, and that it is here to stay. Getting a takeaway from your favourite place might seem like your only option when the lights go out. This is not only unhealthy for your body, but it is also unhealthy for your budget. Whether you are buying a prepared meal from a grocery store or a fast food chain, there is no denying that this is a convenient option. Convenience, however, costs money. If load shedding is the reason why you buy takeaways, invest in a gas stove and stick it to Eskom when the lights go out. You can stretch your rands instead of your waistline by planning ahead. In a perfect world where load shedding plays no part and your laziness is to blame for your monthly takeaway spend, plan and cook a weekly menu over the weekend to avoid crisis cooking or buying takeaways.
Cooking your week’s food in advance will not only make it easier to resist takeaway temptation, but it is also quite convenient for those days when you leave the office later than usual. And what is better than enjoying a home made meal after a long day along with a glass of wine or a cold one? Though this article is not an introduction to a 12 step programme, reducing your alcohol consumption can also save you money on a monthly basis. According to the World Health Organisation, a woman should consume around 14 units of alcohol per week and a man about 21 units. A unit does not refer to one bottle of wine or one six pack of beer. A single glass of wine measuring 175 ml is equivalent to two units of alcohol. By simply halving your weekly alcohol intake, you can save a lot more than you would save if you opt for the cheaper detergent.
Getting your finances in order should be a priority that deserves your attention today. Don’t delay saving money for one day when – postponing these savings is a bad habit that will see you losing out on a better life in the future one month at a time. Revise your monthly budget and get rid of the unnecessary expenses. For example, if you are paying for a gym membership that you rarely use, get rid of it. Don’t keep this membership to satisfy your once-a month urge to exercise. Getting out of an agreement with a service provider can be difficult, but with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), this is not impossible. Don’t just stop paying the service provider – be sure to contact the service provider and notify them of your intention to cancel. They will be able to provide you with cancellation options. As per the CPA, consumers may cancel a contract by giving 20 business days’ notice. All cancellations must be done in writing and the service provider is allowed to charge a reasonable cancellation fee. As a self-admitted procrastinator, this might seem like a lot of work and finishing your contract with the service provider would seem a lot more hassle-free. If you are not using a service that costs you money on a monthly basis, you are throwing money in the water.
So next time you are plagued by the need to save more and spend less, take a look at your bad habits before you immediately assume that you need to become a smart and thrifty shopper. You can never go wrong with being a smart shopper, but giving up some of your vices instead of giving in to them, can see you enjoying a healthier life as well as more savings on a monthly basis.