Saving is not about how much you earn, but rather how much you spend. If you never seem to get ahead, you might be surprised to know that you probably waste at least 20 percent of your income each month. Don't believe it?
Think before you shop
The first place to start is your grocery cupboard. It's common for people to throw kilogrammes of old wilted vegetables away every month. When I took the time to think about why I was always throwing out fruit and vegetables, I realised that many of the purchases came down to wishful thinking.
I know I need to eat more fruit and veg, therefore, I thought, if I buy it I should eat it. That didn't happen, of course, as I'm often not home to cook it. For me, buying on the day is a much better option.
Look at your particular habits, get a reality check and then adjust your shopping habits accordingly. And always check what you have at home before you shop.
Pre-packaged food — such as cooked snack food, pre-made meals and cut vegetables — is convenient, but costly. For the most part, you should avoid buying these items, but they can be cost-effective for single people who shop on a daily basis as there is no wastage.
Take your own lunch
I don't have to tell you that eating out is expensive, and so is buying coffee and muffins from the deli during work. Take your lunch to work and save a small fortune. One cup of designer coffee and a muffin can cost some R20 per day. Multiply that by 20 working days and you could save R400 per month.
Spend a day cooking meals and freeze them for your family. Not only are you able to purchase the food in bulk, but this method also means you don't have to throw away any spoiled food. It also reduces the temptation to eat out after a busy day.
Smoking cigarettes costs the country a couple of billion rands per year in lost work hours because of smoking-related illnesses. But how much are those daily cigarettes costing you?
If a couple smokes three packs a day between them at around R25 a pack, they puff away R75 a day, or an average of R2250 a month. Over a year that's a massive R27 000 — enough for a couple of luxurious holidays or a decent lump sum for you to start investing.
But there are still more costs associated with smoking. As soon as you light up, you become a health risk; to the state and to your insurance company, so your life insurance premiums will go up. A smoker's premiums are markedly higher than those of a non-smoker because their chances of becoming sick are much higher. In fact, a 50-year-old smoker's insurance premiums can cost up to 50 percent more.
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