Take the sting out of housing and transportation costs

There are indications that interest rates will slowly increase over the next few years, while fuel price continues to climb at a steady rate. These two increases will have an impact on the amount you will pay for two important “needs”, housing and transport. So, what are some of the quick tricks you can do to reduce some of the costs associated with these needs or manage the needs better.

Firstly, let’s explore what is a need. Needs are things that you pay for every month. An example will be paying for housing, either rent or owning your own. Other examples are transport, electricity, groceries, telephone and data spend. These needs are essential for daily living, working and moving around.

What are the smart moves that you can make to manage these and make some sound money management moves?

Home loan / bond payment

If you have a home loan you are more than aware of the debit order that goes off every month. A quick trick is to ensure that your debit order is as close as possible to payday, then you know that it has been paid and you do not need to worry about it anymore.

Remember that interest rates will start increasing over the next few years, try to get used to paying the higher amount by paying extra into your bond now, a big advantage of that is that you will save on interest in the long run and get used to paying the higher amount when the rate hike happens.

Transport

This is always a tough one. We are very dependent on changing fuel prices and we have seen how these have increased in the last few months. So here are a few money management tips:

  • Do your grocery shopping once a month, avoid regular trips to stores. This will also save you money with unconscious spend.
  • To save fuel, drive carefully, avoid harsh acceleration and driving fast.
  • Service your car regularly and ensure that tires are properly inflated.
  • Try to work from home if your company allows it and if you do need to go to work, try to car-pool with some colleagues.
  • Use your loyalty program to pay for some of your fuel bill.

Groceries

Groceries are a major expense for all of us and it seems like it just ticks up every month. There are some smart moves that you can do here to save some money as well.

  • Do a monthly shop for the non-perishables.
  • Create a weekly menu, using the items you have in the cupboard and supplement with a few fresh items.
  • Watch out for popping in at a corner store to get one or two things, these are normally very expensive.
  • Look out for specials, you can maybe buy multiple items at better prices.

Electricity, airtime and data

While it may be easy to buy these in smaller amounts and it does not seem like a dent on the pocket, these smaller amounts can quickly add up to large amounts. If you buy R20 of airtime a day, it’s R140 a week or R560 per month. Rather look at your budget and see how much you want to spend on data and airtime, then look if it will not be cheaper to buy larger amount once off for more value or go on a contract. A quick way to keep track of your spending is to use a spending tracker.

The same applies with electricity. The first step is to determine how much electricity you will use in a month, working on an average for about 6 months. Then buy the budgeted amount in the beginning of the month, this way you will reduce the effect of the step-up tariffs. Also, if you buy smaller amounts it may seem like a little impact on your cash flow, but you may be affected by the step up that applies to electricity tariffs. Some quick ways to save on electricity by:

  • Switching off lights when not needed.
  • Turn the geyser temperature to 55ºC to 60ºC.
  • Reduce reliance on tumble dryers.
  • If using a washing machine or dishwasher, only do a full load.
  • Match the size of a pot to the size of the stove plate.
  • Install an eco-friendly solution, such as solar.

These are just a few tips that you can apply to stretch your cash while covering the basic needs. Remember to keep an eye on your budget by using tools available to you, such as Smart Budget and track my spend on the FNB App.

Ester Ox, Product Head: FNB Money Management.

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