Cutting costs. A topic that keeps coming up in conversations when you’re out with your friends, ironically. With rising fuel and food costs, this is something most Average Joes have been forced to think about over the last few years. Eskom has asked to increase the price of electricity by 12.61%, in addition to the 12.69% increase that came into effect on the 1st of April 2015. Gauteng residents will feel the crunch even more with imminent e-toll implementation and for the people of Jozi, increases on property rates, water and sewerage and refuse removal service loom.
So what are we to do? One can only cut costs to some extent, right? This article will point you to your next step in a series of sidesteps to avoid rising fuel and food costs, e-tolls and continually rising electricity costs.
First things first. Electricity. You can greatly decrease your electricity and utility bill by going green and switching over to gas and solar utilities. Think of this as an investment, rather than a temporary solution. The way things are going currently, a temporary solution like a generator can become quite costly – think about the rising petrol price as well. The price of solar power products have declined rapidly over the past few years. Solutions like solar geysers are becoming quite popular with South Africans. Apparently, switching off your geyser when you don’t use it doesn’t really make a difference to your electricity bill. You can also invest in something like a gas stove – this investment kills two birds with one stone by cutting costs and cutting dependence from our beloved electricity service provider. There are other, and cheaper, options available if you are not in the market for new appliances at the moment.
While we’re discussing the kitchen, have you ever considered growing your own? Some of us are fortunate enough to have a garden or yard. Yes, flowers are colourful and can be very pleasing to the eye, especially if your financial future looks a bit dismal. Let aesthetics take the back seat and fill your garden with different veggies, fruits and herbs. Seeds are fairly cheap and available at most supermarkets these days. I’m not suggesting you buy a John Deere and become a full blown, khaki-wearing farmer. If you can eat from your garden once a week, think about how much you can save. If your fingers aren’t green enough for gardening, you can also consider making your own condiments. Hop onto Google and look for homemade mayo, sauce, spread or rub recipes. Not only will these homemade condiments be preservative free, but you’ll also have one less item in the grocery basket (who can fill a trolley these days anyway) at the end of every month. Living organically can even be financially lucrative in other ways as well. Read more on turning your hobbies into money.
There are many other small changes that you can make in your life that will have an impact on the thickness of your wallet. Make a list of errands that you need to run and do them all in one go – this way you will save money on your petrol budget. Better yet, walk to your nearest store. When you get to your nearest store, try to buy household items in bulk to enjoy better savings. Remember to look at the R/Kg, R/L or R/Unit price however. Buying in bulk isn’t always cheaper.
Another way to sidestep load shedding while saving at the same time is to plan a weekly menu and cook it beforehand. This way you will avoid crisis cooking when the lights go out. Crisis cooking here means getting into your car and driving to the nearest takeaway joint. Set a few hours aside over the weekend and cook different dishes for the whole week. Allowing your oven to heat up and cool down for lunch and heat up again for dinner seems silly if you think about it. Cooking with stoves accounts for 7% of the total electrical energy consumption of households in South Africa. Therefore, cook as much as possible in the oven to make sure you utilise all the space and heat of your oven.
Lastly, you can also consider joining a lift club to save on your monthly fuel budget. Whether you need to get to varsity, to work or your kids to school, find a lift club and take turns in driving. You might want to look into public transport as Sanral exempts public transporters from paying e-Toll fees.
These are a few simple tips to assist you with escaping the devil and the deep blue sea. Living organically does not necessarily have to live up to the myth of it being an expensive lifestyle to maintain. You don’t have to become a dedicated Green Peace activist either. Small changes can make a big difference.