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It all starts with a budget


If you did a budget in January, you might be wondering what has happened as nothing seems to be within budget anymore. You are not the only one! Potatoes alone have gone up 20% since December and other foods seem to be escalating in leaps and bounds.

An undervalued Rand, low commodity prices and a slow-down in the Chinese economy has not helped our struggling economy. Add to that, political mayhem and the worst drought we have seen in decades, and South Africa is set to continue seeing high inflation and slow economic growth for the foreseeable future. But we have two choices—resist or adapt to the changes happening around us.

Lyn, 63, has decided to adapt to the changes happening around her.  “I buy a wheat-free muesli at one of the larger retailers.  Without naming and shaming the retailer or the brand, the cost of this muesli rose from R54.99 for 1 kg to R72.99 for the exact same product – within two weeks!  I cannot and will not justify spending 73 bucks on one product – I will do without or look for an alternative.  On principle, I won’t pay this kind of money. ” At an increase of approximately 32%, You’ve Earned It would agree with her sentiments.

If you have not set your budget, I recommend you do. A good friend, Tracey, said recently: “It is hard to see controlling of finances and better management as, actually, something we should do for ourselves. It is an empowering thing! I think we are so busy and stressed about money that most of us do not want to acknowledge how tight it is or that we have power in our own hands to do something about it. We forget it is for own stability and peace of mind, that more control could bring about calmness rather than chaos, and stability and better living long term – for things we really want to do or achieve. We should be treating our finances on the same level that we are concerned about our health and fitness, and working towards the milestones and achieving them.” Well said Tracey!

budget - pig raising eyes

Staying within budget is not an easy feat. Here are some useful pointers:


Electricity bill

If you have not visited the numerous “how to cut down on your electricity bill” websites and blogs, I suggest you do. There are so many simple and easy things we can do to reduce our electricity bill.

Watch this space for a dedicated YEI feature, coming soon!

Water bill

The cost of water has increased, which is understandable given the drought, but the sewerage bill is linked to your water bill so, if one goes up, so does the other. Watch this humorous yet insightful clip of Suzelle and Helen Zille chatting about how to be water wise. You can watch it here

And have a read of YEI’s article titled  Five easy, but significant water savers

Grocery bill

I guess all I can say is plan, plan and plan. Draw up a list and stick to it; buy only local seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables; and try eating vegetarian once or twice a week to reduce costs.

I have also found that buying online offers fewer “temptations” as you stick to your list and are not tempted into buying non-essential items. Most retailers deliver within a day or two of ordering.

If you are not a planner, you might like the Daily Dish. They deliver the ingredients and recipes for dinner for four nights a week for either two or four people. You can choose between classic, no carb and vegetarian. The advantage is that your costs are capped for four of the seven nights, and no more wondering what to cook for dinner or popping into the shop for a can of tomatoes for your spaghetti bolognaise.

More worthwhile YEI reads:

How to save on your food bill in 2016

Make your own cleaning products and save


budget - pull our belts in



What might help to cut expenses here is committing to only buying on sale and what is absolutely necessary. It also helps to plan before charging into the shops – decide exactly what items you need and in what colour, and do not be tempted by non-essentials or fashion items.

I have found Project 333 particularly useful as well as the Capsule Wardrobe. Both work on the premise that you need less than you think and that, by just buying more clothing, you perpetuate the problem of “having nothing to wear” and end up cluttering your wardrobe. Less is more and both these projects teach you that. You only buy an item of clothing if you planned for it, the principle of “one in, one out” applies, and you end up spending less on clothing.

Janet, 65, is a YEI reader.  At the start of 2016, Janet decided that her New Year’s Resolution would be that she would buy absolutely no clothes during the course of 2016.  Two reasons – this would make her budget stretch further, and she actually really could make do with the clothes in her wardrobe.


Ideally you should not have debt but, if you do, first settle the debt that has the highest interest. Pay off your credit card every month and, if your debt is overwhelming you, speak to your bank about debt consolidation.


Check to see how much you are paying monthly in monthly banking costs. I changed banks and reduced my bank charges by 60%. I have found that shopping around for banks and credit cards is a useful and worthwhile exercise. The same applies to cellphone contracts and short term insurance — both can be changed and cheaper options sourced.

I know this list is not exhaustive and would appreciate any cost saving tips you might have.  Please share them in the comments section below.

I hope you are putting your finances first by empowering yourself and not by being overwhelmed by it.

Article:  Sigrid Madonko

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