Financial resolutions - 5 ways to stretch your salary each month

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Experts offer us tips on achieving financial wellness.
Experts offer us tips on achieving financial wellness.
Photo: Xavier Lorenzo/Getty

Are you constantly living on the edge waiting for your next salary? 

It’s that time of the year where we go all out and make resolutions of what we hope to achieve in the coming year — be it losing a few kilos, eating healthier or letting go of a bad habit in pursuit of better versions of ourselves. Our finances are part of this common practice.

New Year’s resolutions are no child’s play. According to entrepreneur.com, only 9.2 percent of people achieve their yearly resolutions and rid themselves of their bad habits — an alarming statistic that we are all victims of at some point in our lives.

Finances are also a different ball game. Admit it, we have all tried saving up for something but ended up spending the money on an impromptu shopping trip.

Why are financial resolutions a pain?

The cost of living and high inflation also play a part in us going back to our old ways and neglecting our financial goals.

Financial advisor and executive director at Matseke Business Investment, Mashilo Matseke, explains that the ever-rising cost of living makes basic needs unaffordable.

“Many households are left with nothing to spend after paying the creditors,” he explains.

Trying to fit into the social media mould of what the good life entails could put a dent on your pocket and delay you from achieving your financial objectives.

“Making financial decisions to impress others is very detrimental. One needs a large dose of discipline to not succumb to the Insta life pressures,” Busisiwe Moeng, an adviser from OUTsurance, says.

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Keep your financial blindspots in check.

These are those areas of our finances that we’re either unaware of or simply ignore because it just keeps us sane. Be it buying data daily or swiping for everything, these habits are what’s standing between us and financial greatness.

Set financial goals

Financial education vlogger, Nicolette Mashile, says the first thing people should do when striving for financial freedom is to assess the state of their affairs.

“Ask yourself if you have financial goals and if you’re doing everything in your power to achieve them,” she explains.

She adds that you should look at small things that you can change on your way to reaching your financial goals.

“Look at the goals you had last year and ask yourself how many of those did you achieve. Ask yourself what went wrong and how you can fix it to avoid repeating the same mistakes,” Mashile advises.

Stretch your salary

Going broke mid-month waiting for your next paycheck isn’t fun and you don’t want to be seen as part of the ‘working poor’ as we enter the new year.

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Here are a few tips on how you can stop living from paycheck to paycheck:

1. Increase your income streams

You might not be covering all the commitments because you have one income source that does not allow financial flexibility. This means that you need to take up a side hustle to help you sustain yourself.

“One source of income is not enough. You can open your own business or render services in your field of expertise to multiple clients at a cost,” Matseke advises.

2. Define what financial freedom means to you

Adult peer pressure is real, so defining your financial goals will help you understand them better and know what your priorities are. You might find that you’re spending too much money on going out and buying new clothes just to impress your friends.

“Sometimes we impose other people’s definitions of financial freedom on ourselves, ending up being dissatisfied with our financial statuses. It’s important to know what financial freedom looks like to you, then you’ll be able to put a checklist together for yourself,” Mashile says.

3. Get your spending under control

Don’t live a ‘wow’ life on a ‘lol’ budget. This means that you should avoid buying unnecessary items if you know they will hinder your progress. Living beyond our means is one of the reasons why some of us find ourselves in trouble.

“Have a spending plan and draw up a budget so that you know where every cent you earn goes every month,” Mashile says.

4. Tackle debt

According to the National Credit Regulator, South Africans are drowning in debt and still seeking out more credit. High-interest rate debt is detrimental as it literally takes away money you could be saving.

Matseke agrees, “Debt is one of the hardest things to cope with, we all experience it at some point. The decision to deal with debt can be a worthwhile pledge to make. If you make bad financial decisions from the first paycheck, then you’re most likely to remain trapped in debt for a while.”

5. Create an emergency fund

This will keep you away from using credit should your income be compromised or in cases where you urgently need cash.

“Avoid being in situations that lead to you spiraling into creating debt. An emergency account is very important in such cases,” Mashile explains.

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