Debt:  How to survive on less?

Really good ideas to cut down on your expenses

Covid-19 puts at least 1.5 million South African jobs at risk – Miyelani Mkhabela, IOL.

The corona virus may bankrupt more people than it kills.  According to Trent Hamm one of the biggest challenges in personal finance is figuring out ways to spend less money — and one of the best ways to accomplish that is to cut down on your monthly expenses.

Here he gave are some ideas on how to do that:

Cars are expensive to keep.   Not only does their value constantly go down, they need petrol which is becoming ridiculously expensive in South Africa and require all kinds of pricey maintenance.

1. Use public transportation. It saves you monthly car payment installments, insurance, fuel, parking and maintenance costs. Having a roof over your head and a medical aid in more important than having a car.

2. Sell a vehicle that you own that is rarely used.

3. Carpool to work.  If you have an opportunity to share a ride to and from work with someone else, you can significantly reduce wear and tear on your car and save on petrol.

4. Keep the tires on your car properly inflated. Once a month, stop by a local filling station that offers free air and check the air pressure in your car tires. Every two PSI of air you’re able to add to your tires can improve your petrol /km by 1%.


Any time you can reduce how much money you owe, it will help lower your ongoing monthly expenses. For starters, paying off debt means fewer monthly bills to pay, leaving you with more money to save. Here are a few ways to cut down on debt and save money over time.

1. Consolidate your student loans.

If your student loans are locked in at a high interest rate, figure out whether it makes sense to consolidate all or some of them. It could save you money every single month.

2. Consolidate your debts using a balance transfer card or personal loan.

If you’re carrying debt with a high interest rate, a balance transfer might be a good option. The best balance transfer cards offer perks such as 0% APR for up to 18 months – and some even offer rewards programs. Taking advantage of a 0% APR offer can help you pay down your debt and save quite a bit of money on interest. Just make sure to factor in the balance transfer fees, and pay down the entire transferred balance during the introductory period if possible.

If you have high balances on multiple credit cards, it can also make sense to utilize a debt consolidation loan. These loans allow you to combine several high-interest debts into one personal loan, which ideally has a lower interest rate than your current debts and enables you to pay down your debt faster. As with balance transfer cards, be sure to take into account any upfront fees and make your monthly payments on time.


1.Check your personal loan rates.

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

2. Request a credit card rate reduction.

If you’ve got a fairly large balance on your credit card, call up your credit card company and request a rate reduction. If you pay your bill on time every month, they may be willing to negotiate. If they won’t go for it, get a 0% balance transfer onto another card with a lower rate. If you have a history of late payments, a credit card for bad credit can help you rebuild your credit score and qualify for cards with better rewards and lower rates in the future.

  • How does a credit card work? A credit card lets you spend money on credit – it’s like having a loan for the amount you spend using the card. It depends on how confident your card provider is that you’ll pay it back. If you pay off the bill in full each month, you won’t pay interest on what you’ve borrowed.  If you have a strong sense of discipline and pay off your card at the end of each month or, even better, prepay it at the beginning of the month, then a credit card could save you on transaction fees.
  • Who should avoid getting a credit card? Anyone who don’t have enough income to pay off a credit card balance. If you only work seasonally, part-time, or not at all, you may not have enough money to pay a credit card balance. Getting a credit card without enough money to pay the bill can lead to debt troubles and damaged credit.
  • What are the disadvantages of credit card?  1. The biggest disadvantage of credit cards is that they encourage people to spend money that they don’t have. 2. Credit card companies charge you an enormous amount of interest on each balance that you don’t pay off at the end of each month.

2. Sign up for automatic debt repayment plans.

Many instalment plans, particularly those associated with student loans, offer an interest rate reduction if you sign up for automatic monthly billing. You should never pass these up – not only do they save money automatically each month, they’re also incredibly convenient and ensure you won’t miss a payment or incur a late fee.

3. Sell unused items.

Dig through your closets or attic and look for items you no longer use that may have value, then sell them on eBay, at your local pawn shop or have a garage sale. You can then use the money you bring in to pay off debt and put it behind you once and for all.


From hot summers to cold winters and all the gadgets we plug in, we spend a lot of money on energy bills. In South Africa we have an energy crisis and electricity became very expensive.  Fortunately, technology has brought us a few effective ways to improve energy efficiency and lower that figure.

1. Install CFL or LED light bulbs.

If you’ve never updated the light bulbs in your home, consider switching to either CFLs or, better yet, LEDs. These bulbs are about four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and last for many years. One tip: When comparing bulbs, use the lumens number to compare bulbs, not the equivalent wattage’s. Lumens indicate the actual amount of light emitted by the bulb.

2. Unplug all unused electrical devices.

Are there any electrical devices around the house that stay plugged in, but that you rarely use? Most electronic devices constantly draw a small amount of electricity, a phantom charge, that can add up quickly when you consider just how many devices and small appliances you own. To eliminate that usage, unplug any items or power strips you use infrequently.

3. Buying prepaid electricity in South Africa

The more electricity you buy in a month, the more you pay. In the case of prepaid customers, it has nothing to do with how much you actually use – the cost is purely based on how much you buy. This means that electricity is one of the rare cases where it’s really not a good idea to buy in bulk. Maya on Money journalist, Maya Fisher-French, advices consumers to rather buy from week to week, or buy just enough at the beginning of each month to keep you going. It’s cheaper to top up with a few units at the end of each month than to buy enough to last you for two months.

4. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.

The hot water heater is a major energy drain in most homes, accounting for about 14% of energy costs. Often, the water is kept hotter than most people ever need, plus the heat is constantly lost to the environment, meaning you have to burn more energy than ever to keep the water so hot.

Solve both problems by dropping the temperature down to 60 degrees Celsius and also installing a water heater blanket to keep in the heat – a blanket can pay for itself in about a year, after which you’ll be saving money monthly. While you’re at it, insulate any exposed hot water pipes as well for additional savings.


Many people look at entertainment as the first thing to cut when trying to trim costs, but they often forget to look at the regular expenditures that slowly eat away at your financial foundation month in and month out. Here are some things to consider that you may have overlooked before.

1. Cancel club memberships.

Look at expenses such your gym membership, your membership with the local country club, and so on. How often do you really use these services.  Try canceling any memberships that you use infrequently.

2. Reduce or eliminate your DSTV account.

Most people could find a cheaper way to gain access to their favorite shows if they tried hard enough (for example Netflix). Perhaps you could downgrade DSTV from premium to basic, or cancel it totally.

3. Look for inexpensive entertainment options.

Do you take advantage of your local library? Do you attend local community events like music festivals and art fairs? Are you aware of local volunteer groups and organizations? Your community may offer plenty of options for inexpensive or free entertainment of all kinds.

4. Find new ways to reduce travel expenses.

We live very far from our extended families, so we’re well aware of the costs of travel. To save as much as possible, we cut down on the amount of travel we do book fares in advance to get the best prices.

5. Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

The price of daily or weekly newspapers and magazines can add up to a tidy sum. Why not watch news on TV or read it on your cell phone or laptop? If you need reading material, hit up your local library instead. Second hand bookshops offer great books are much reduced prices if you love reading. It is a great way to recirculate books you have finished reading.

6. Consider reducing/eliminating other regular paid services.

This includes garden, ironing and home cleaning services. Is the money you’re spending is truly worth it? If not, just drop the service and look for other options that can accomplish the same thing for less, like doing it yourself or as a family.


A culture of eating fast foods has emerged lately. People are often just too lazy to cook meals themselves. There are ways to eat cheaper.

1. Cook (and pack) your own meals at home.

When you cook at home, make a lot of whatever you’re preparing so you can freeze some of it for future meals and, even better, take some leftovers into work for lunch.

Cosider using a wonderbox when you cook. A wonder box is a heat retention cooker. After you bring your food to a boil, (so it is heated throughout) using any number of cooking methods, you remove it from the heat source and quickly place the pot inside the wonder box.

https://www.wonderbagworld.com/

2. Reduce or eliminate eating out or getting take-out.

Take-out and dining out can be a nice luxury and huge time-saver for a busy family, but the expense can be tremendous. Instead, look at other options to make dining at home more convenient — for example, prepare lots of meals at once and freeze them for easy cooking later. Meanwhile, focus mostly on simple recipes, and choose recipes that use the fresh produce in season in your area.

3. Buy non-perishable items in bulk.

Many people never even bother to look at some of the larger packages of non-perishable items – they think it’s just too much. Try looking at the cost per unit of all of the sizes and choose the one that’s the best deal.  Spread out over months and over a lot of this can add up to a lot of trimmed fat.

4. Start a fruit and vegetable garden.

Vegetable gardening is a splendid hobby that can often turn a profit if done right. Focus on vegetables that are easy to grow and produce abundant fruit, like tomatoes, and learn how to can and store the excess.

5. Buy house brands when you can.

Many products (not just food) are available in a store-brand or generic form for significantly less money. Look carefully at the ingredients in generic and name-brand products to see how similar they are. If they’re close, go with the generic one on a regular basis to consistently trim money from your shopping bill.


We all need insurance to protect against the unexpected. But when we overpay for insurance, we leave ourselves vulnerable in a different way. Look into these options for ways to reduce your insurance premiums.

1. Downgrade your medical aid, but be on one.

Medical aids in South Africa are costly. If possible, it is better to have hospital cover only, than not to have a medical aid at all. If you cannot afford to pay premiums for full cover, opt for more slim lined options that suit your budget, rather than cancelling it totally. This is particularly fitting for people who don’t rely on regular medications or go to the doctor all that much.  It is risky to depend on government health services in South Africa..

2. Shop around for house and car insurance (or bundle them together).

Get a few quotes to get the best deal for you. Also revise your insurance every year to make sure you are covered. Most insurance companies also offer a good discount if you bundle your homeowners and auto policies together.


If you’re still looking for ways to reduce your monthly expenses and save money, it’s time to dig a little deeper. These suggestions can help you find all of the potential savings in your monthly budget.

1. Lower your cell phone bill.

What is the least amount of data and airtime you can get away with? South Africans spend huge amounts of money on the newest cell phones and data. The type of cell phone is not a reflection of your wealth.  You don’t have to upgrade every two years and you don’t have to buy the top phone in the range.

2. Consider cheaper childcare options.

Compare childcare options in your area to see if a cheaper alternative would be a better value. Or get creative in trying to cut back your existing childcare by a day or two — for instance, look into a nanny-share arrangement, or try working a later shift once a week so you can be home during the day. If you’re lucky enough to live near grandparents, they might be willing to watch the kids part-time while you work.

3. Reduce or eliminate organized child activities.

The high cost of children’s sports can spiral out of control if you don’t keep it in check. To minimize these costs, look at the real expenses involved with any sport or activity before you let your children sign up. Kids don’t have to take part everything.

4. It is okay to stop tithing, at least temporarily.

If your budget is bursting at the seams, consider cutting back on your religious tithing. If this spiritually troubles you, talk to the leader of your religious group about the issue – they’ll usually be very supportive of this if you need some time to get your own house in order. Once you get back on your feet, you’ll likely be in the position to give even more than you did before.

5. Stop buying so much clothing.

How much clothes do you actually need? Buy clever and only what you really need. Refrain from buying brand names. If you can knit or sow – consider making your own clothes. You can make 4 high quality dresses for the price of buying one.

6. Reduce grooming expenses.

Instead of having your hair cut and styled weekly, cut back to once a month. If your hairstyle cost a lot to maintain, consider a simpler easier to care for style. If possible, colour hair yourself at a quarter of the price of a salon colour. Do your own nails.

7. Reduce or eliminate consumable habits (such as smoking, alcohol, etc.).

8. Learn to say no to people who entice you to make  debt

Nearly every week we receive calls from companies who are offering us ‘’great deals’’. If you have any financial ‘’savvy’’ you will realize they are actually enticing you to go deeper into debt.

  •  If a cell phone company calls you to offer you a new phone or contract, say no.
  • If a bank calls you to offer you a higher overdraft on your credit card – say no.
  • If you receive the offer of a clothing store card with promises of spend R 1000 and receive voucher for R 400 – say no.

These are all ways they try and get you to purchase more stuff you don’t’ need and can’t afford. Get rid of store cards that allow you to buy on credit. Most of the time you will buy more than you can afford. Learn to pay cash. If you don’t have cash, you don’t buy.

9. Avoid get rich quick schemes / online predators.

Be wary of people calling you to invest in schemes to make a quick buck. Making money is always hard work. There is no such thing as getting rich quick. Do not be enticed to invest in online schemes. Never pay money into bank accounts of people that you met online. There are more than 500 000 predators online daily that are looking for soft targets.

10. Do not lend money to anyone

While is okay to stand as security to cover your child’s student loan, do not lend money to anyone outside your family – not even to uncles. aunts, nephews or nieces. If the person couldn’t even secure a loan from a credit provider, chances are good they will never repay you.

Trying a few of these strategies could lead to huge savings down the road. Meanwhile, trying all of them could literally transform your financial future – one rand at a time.


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Source:

Trent Hamm.  https://www.thesimpledollar.com/trimming-the-fat-forty-ways-to-reduce-your-monthly-required-spending/



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