Friday, 21 October 2016

Financial Life(style) - How to live a cheaper existence and ease your stress and burdens

In this day and age it's getting harder and harder to get by and make ends meet (especially in countries like South Africa, China and India, where the currency is so much weaker). In fact most people I know of have admitted to having to go into debt every month just to buy food and other groceries! It truly is shocking how much the Global Economy in general, has gone downhill in the last 20 years or so. Money seems to have no value anymore. 

Because of the above-mentioned, I have decided to share some tips with all of you on how to live a bit cheaper and in the process, ease some of your stress and burdens (hence making you happier and a little more content again). People in other countries outside of South Africa, India and China, can also benefit from reading this, since in this day and age, we can all use some money saving tips and advice.

Tip number one - work on a budget 

Start budgeting your grocery bill (by making a weekly list and sticking to it). This is actually a lot easier than it seems and I have been doing it for years. When you make your list, put your maximum amount to spend on each item, next to that item. This way you can total up your total maximum spend, and not have any nasty surprises at the till/checkout.

Tip number two - purchase a cheaper car 

We all need vehicles to get us from A to B but what we don't need are vehicles costing a small fortune. Why put yourself through obscene payments in a month for something that decreases in value? Rather purchase second hand than purchasing new. Something I find totally ridiculous though, is the fact that the used car market has even become outrageously overpriced. I was laughing the other day when I saw a vehicle, that used to sell brand new, for 40 000 South African Rand (an Opel Utility Vehicle), in the market by a car dealership for 60 000 South African Rand. Can you imagine?! In South Africa you will pay more for a used car now then when it was new! I am fortunate enough to have access to motor vehicle values booklets and was shocked to see how many used car dealers advertise their vehicles for way over book value. So do your homework first by finding out the real values before searching for a more reasonably priced car, to avoid being done in.

Tip number three - not only cheaper, but also smaller (car)

Remember, the smaller the vehicle the less the petrol/fuel, which means less expense in a month. Some households can save thousands this way. Don't believe me? Well compare cars (and their average fuel consumption) and do the math for yourself.

Tip number four - live in a cheaper house/home

It is true our homes are our castles, but why pay the price for a castle if you are not a king? Property has become obscenely expensive in South Africa the last few years. Some might say it's due to the weak rand, however I have been doing a little research recently and this led me to discover something very interesting. Some homeowners and Estate Agents are the ones causing the unrealistic rises, by advertising properties at drastically bloated prices (in order to pocket more money in sales and commissions). Again, do your homework by finding out what the real market values are, before purchasing a home. 

As for those who are renting their home, my advice would be to try and find a house/flat of equal standards, or maybe even a little smaller than what you have now, for a price more affordable than what you are currently paying. 

Remember, the key here is to be realistic and to not live above your means. 

Tip number five - cheaper insurance

Insurance is yet another expensive commodity we cannot dare live without. Just be sure you are getting yours (car and household insurance) for the absolute lowest premiums possible. Beware of brokers though as they will take a cut (making your insurance a bit higher). Rather compare different insurances online for yourself.

Tip number six - cut back on the booze

Boozing it up might be fun but it doesn't come cheap (health and money wise). Many people (especially in South Africa) don't realise how much money they drink away each month. I do realise drinking is a stress release but honestly, if I have managed to find cheaper and healthier stress relieving pastimes, so can you.

Tip number 7 - take holidays closer to home

Surely you can skip that sea/beach holiday once in a while and take a break someplace closer to home. You might even land up having more fun (since you will be exposed to new and different types of experiences). If you simply can't stand the thought of not going to the Ocean, why not do it out of high season then?

Tip number 8 - make use of Groupons and other coupons

I am relatively new to the whole Groupon concept myself, but what it basically is, are various coupons for various things (such as restaurant meals) which you buy online to get the said item for a much cheaper price. Other coupons for a discount on items such as milk can be found in magazines, pamphlets and newspapers. Don't be embarrassed to make use of these, since in this day and age any savings you can make are worth it. 

Tip number 9 - try to use less electricity

 Set your geyser/water heater lower, use energy saver bulbs only, cook on a gas stove, have a prepaid electricity meter installed. All these (mentioned) things are a huge start. There are many other ways to save on electricity bills if you just apply some grey matter (such as making use of solar lanterns at night to create a peaceful mood and save some bucks for example).

And that is it from me. The above nine tips can save you a ton each month (and keep you out of financial trouble). There are of course many other money saving tips and tricks out there, as mentioned above (that don't involve things like re-using a tea bag for example). All it takes is some research and some thought.

Happy saving!

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