THE fuel hike is surely going to pour extra fuel on your fire this October. South Africa has fallen on tough economic times, that’s for sure. From VAT increases and grocery hikes to non-stop fuel upsurges (with this month’s one being the biggest fuel hike in South Africa’s history — according to experts). The important question you have to ask yourself is: What now?Matthys Potgieter, spokesperson and debt expert at DebtSafe, says: “When the going gets tough, you need to get proactive and pay attention to even the slightest detail of your budget and finances.” You basically have to try and keep your budget stable (although you are already in a severe budget squeeze) and plan as best you can, states Potgieter. The petrol went up on Wednesday morning with R1 more per litre for petrol and R1.24 per litre for diesel. This is where the planning part comes in. You have to add extra money for your monthly fuel usage this month and, in all possibility, the upcoming months as well. The fuel hike will certainly have an influence on your budget — considering private and public transport. And, if you have dependents (like an employee that works for you or a family member for example) — you will also need to plan for these extra costs effectively and accordingly. The most proactive thing you can do to keep your budget intact is to start cutting back on the nice to haves. A quick evening out can easily cost you R250 to R300 (per person) — which can cover the increase for a few tanks of fuel. Here are other “tiny” tweaks or tips to consider to survive the biggest fuel hike that is coming your way.• If you drive a long distance to go to work, join a lift club — it will save you extra money as everybody “clubs” together to pay the fuel.• If you have to travel during the coming (October or December) holidays and friends or family members are also driving from your area to the same destination, try to drive together and use less cars, for example. • Avoid toll routes where possible and take alternative roads instead.• Make use of your rewards systems (if you have any) to fill up your car.• Make use of convenient phone apps like fuellog or fillapp to regulate your fuel usage as well as saving money by knowing when to fill your tank.• Remember that diesel is not regulated. Therefore, if you need to fill your tank with diesel, have a bit of patience and do your homework to know which fuel stations to use beforehand. • Check your tyre pressure regularly to improve fuel efficiency. Maybe you should sweat the “small stuff” by getting better planning and teeny habits going, as they do make a difference. You’ll make the big things (like fuel hikes) seem a little less scary for yourself. Although the fuel hike is a huge blow for your pocket, you don’t have to throw in the towel — get proactive in the detail of your budget and planning.— Supplied.When the going gets tough, you need to get proactive and pay attention to even the slightest detail of your budget and finances.