Yes, it’s possible to save money! Try our no-spend challenge and keep your money in your pocket for an entire month. Go on – shock your budget into shape!
Could you make it through an entire month by spending only on necessities: monthly bills, rent and loan payments,
credit repayments, school fees, fuel and groceries? A financial fast will give you an idea of how much money you waste on unnecessary items. That means saying ‘no’ to eating out, takeaways, on-the-go coffee, entertainment, indulgent groceries, and clothes.
While a spending freeze is not a long-term solution, it allows you to take a close look at your finances to see where you can cut back, says Wikus Olivier, debt management expert at DebtSafe. Plus, you’ll be able to get a hold on your bad habits.
‘The effect of bad spending habits can be the difference between rich and poor,’ says Nolene Parboo, head of savings
and investments at Standard Bank.
Choose a month
Rule out months with birthdays, holidays or anniversaries. Choose a period where there won’t be any more spending pressure than usual.
‘Do a stock take of your grocery cupboard and plan your meals for the next few weeks,’ says Olivier. Set aside any money you might need for petrol and perishables like milk, or other necessary spends.
Stay out of the mall, avoid decor catalogues, and avoid your favourite fabric or wool shop. Sales are not an excuse for spending!
Figure out what to do with your savings
Will the extra cash you have left over at the end of the month go into debt repayments, or a holiday fund? Forming a picture of what you want will help you stay motivated.
Keep busy and afloat without spending a cent!
- Download a podcast rather than going to watch a movie.
- Visit a library and borrow a book.
- Don’t pay for an exercise class; go for a walk in the park.
Get down to business
It may seem brutal, but a no-spend month will help you control your spending and rethink your attitude towards money while forming new habits:
- Use websites to learn how to DIY. ‘Whether it’s beauty or household maintenance, don’t pay for a professional to do something unless you absolutely can’t do it yourself,’ says Tsholofelo Dihutso from the Financial Planning Institute.
- Use up all the items in your pantry for new and wonderful side dishes and desserts.
- Avoid takeaways. ‘Cook a few different meals and keep them in the freezer so that you don’t spend extra money on takeaways at the end of a tiring day,’ says Dihutso.
- Freeze service accounts you’re not using or can live without, whether it’s for TV, gym contracts or the golf club. ‘You could be spending over R1 000 a month on luxury services you don’t need. Decide what’s important,’ says Parboo.
- Enjoy free family time. ‘Build Lego cities, play hide-and-seek, or explore your neighbourhood on bicycles,’ says Olivier.
Let the good habits stick
- Avoid falling back into the same old spending habits.
- Draw up an ‘essentials’ spend budget and stick to it.
- Pay the money saved into the fund or account you were saving it for.
- Question every unnecessary cost.
FEATURE: TARYN ARNOTT VAN JAARSVELD PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM