From cooking once a week to renegotiating premiums - expert tips on how to ease cash concerns

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Illustration photo by Getty Images
Illustration photo by Getty Images
  • The cost of living continues to rise, and households are feeling the pressure.
  • With the cost of groceries, fuel and electricity going up, it’s a tough time money-wise for many South Africans. But it doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom
  • Experts give some suggestions of ways to ease cash concerns when times are tough.

Tough times are a good opportunity to take stock of your personal finances and evaluate where you can cut costs, how you can save more, and, importantly, how to avoid high-interest debt while still ensuring your needs and those of your family are met. 

Here are some ways to ease cash concerns:

Tap into the subscription economy 

It’s Murphy’s law that the washing machine breaks down at the same time as your child announcing they need a laptop for school. “If you’re thinking high-interest debt is your only option, think again,” says Saul Gur, Financial Director at Teljoy. “Rent-to-own is an alternative to taking on debt to finance what you need for your home, as it is a month-to-month contract that can be cancelled any time, with the option to take ownership after a certain period should you want to.”  

The concept of household appliances being part of the subscription economy shouldn’t seem a foreign concept - you already subscribe to things like cell phones, music, and movies through streaming services, subscribing to tangible objects is the next evolution in this subscription model.

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Evaluate your needs and wants

Take stock of anything you’re paying for but not regularly using anymore. Things like paid apps, multiple TV streaming platforms, or health memberships you may once have signed up for but no longer use all eat away at your income. Distinguish between the needs and wants in your life so that you can declutter your finances, making sure that anything remaining is worth the money it costs. 

If you still really need a service but can’t afford its full cost, look at ways you can dial it back. Having a domestic cleaner come in a few times a week may not be something you can afford right now, but you may still really need the help. Home services like SweepSouth are ideal in this regard, allowing you to book a reliable, trustworthy domestic cleaner to come in when you need, for as many hours as you require. This way, you still get your house cleaned, plus you’re giving a work opportunity to a woman who desperately needs it.

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Renegotiate premiums

Your insurance company wants to retain you as a client, so they are most likely open to negotiating the premium on your car or household insurance, says Gur. “Often, all it takes is a call to your insurance provider and asking if the current rate is the very best they can offer you. Or phone around and compare quotes, mentioning to each what the other can offer,” he suggests. And this doesn’t just apply to insurance - you should be able to renegotiate the interest rate on your home loan, your phone contract, and bank fees. Healthy competition is the backbone of a thriving economy and starts with the individual. 

Head of MiWay Blink, Christiaan Steyn, agrees, advising people to check for different quotes from their insurers and, if necessary, other insurers at least once every six months. He suggests reviewing your policy to see where you can save. If you’re working from home for some part or all of the week, it makes financial sense to switch to an insurer that offers rewards for limited driving. MiWay Blink, for example, provides a cash back on the premium paid if you drive less than 2,500 km per month. The firm uses technology to assess driving behaviour, including the kilometres driven in a month and then rewards the driver.

Store cupboard saviours

We’re so caught up in a world of convenience that we often lose sight of simple, practical ways to cut household costs. Generations before us used common cupboard ingredients, such as vinegar, lemon, and bicarbonate of soda, for home cleaning. Bicarb removes stale carpet odours, toothpaste cleans silverware, and vinegar banishes bathroom mould… search for tried and trusted ways where cheaper, everyday ingredients can effectively be used as substitutes for pricey household products, plus they’re environmentally friendly too.

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Alternative power sources

Soaring electricity prices and forecasts of protracted load shedding throughout winter means it's time to consider alternative power sources. One way of avoiding power disruptions and keeping electricity costs down is by installing a solar and battery system. 

“Solar panels will provide your home with free power during the day, and the battery will store that sun energy for use in the evening and the next morning when electricity is usually used the most,” says Matthew Cruise, lead campaign manager at Hohm Energy. “The battery will ensure that you are independent from load shedding, as it will provide the majority of your home's power requirements during the hours load shedding occurs.” As a result, Eskom’s price increases will not affect you as your home will be powered 40-70% from solar energy, with 100% off-grid options possible with a larger investment. 

Cook once, eat all week long

Weekly shops at a large retailer work out cheaper than daily trips to smaller supermarkets. Similarly, cooking in batches once a week saves money, too. Set aside time at the weekend and cook a few bulk dishes or pasta sauces that you can freeze and haul out to use on weeknights.

Cooking a few dinners in one go saves on electricity and gas, and with more time at hand, you can use cheaper ingredients like dried beans - which require soaking and longer cooking times - as healthy, protein-rich ways to bulk up stews, soups, and sauces.Even when times are less tough, keeping a tight watch on your expenses is a prudent way to live. To follow the advice of finance expert Dave Ramsey: “You must gain control over your money, or the lack of it will forever control you.”

Credit: Irvine Partners

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