For the most part, things are starting to look up. Spring is here, people are travelling again and visiting family. Most businesses are finding their feet in a world post lockdown. But, money is still tight. And, despite our best efforts, the savings account has been pretty neglected. No wonder at that. But now, as life edges slowly back to a version of 'normal' don't you want to book that holiday or spoil family with thoughtful Christmas presents? These 10 easy ways to save money will have your bank account looking healthier in no time. So that you can treat yourself to something special - even in a recession.
How to save money - even in a recession
1). Set specific savings targets
It's easier to put money away when you know what you're saving for. And when you know exactly how much you need to save. Having set weekly or monthly savings goals will help you stay on track. It's much harder to save if you only have a vague idea that you should be doing it.
2). If you're driving in to the office, carpool
This may seem like a simple idea, but how many cars do you pass on the roads in the morning with only one person in it? Is that really the best way to travel? Petrol prices are so erratic that you could save hundreds every month simply by sharing fuel costs. And you'll find the commute that much more pleasant if you have someone to talk to.
3). Treat your savings account like a debit order
Rather than depositing one big lump sum into your savings account - and then forgetting about it for the next six months - make regular deposits as often as you can. When all your other debit orders go off at the end of the month, see that as a reminder to put aside a few hundred rand in savings. By the end of the year, you'll have enough to book that seaside break.
4). Pay bills when you get paid
In the days between the 25th and 1st, it's easy to feel like you're flush with cash. That's when most expensive purchases are made. But, to stop yourself getting carried away with your salary, pay as many bills as you can when you get paid. Sure, debit orders will have to wait for the 31st or 1st, but other direct payments can be made immediately. Doing this will give you a better idea of what your budget looks like for the rest of the month.
5). Cook at home
Yes, we're excited to be able to eat out again - and order a beer with your meal! But constantly dining at restaurants can have a huge impact on your bank account. If you want to support local eateries or treat yourself to a special dinner, stick to one or two outings a month. Otherwise, make the most of cooking at home. A bonus? You'll likely have leftovers for lunch the next day so you can save on buying something from the office cafe.
6). Leave credit cards at home when you go out
Contactless payments have become much too easy. Money flits from one account to the other, and you barely feel it. Your card doesn't leave your hand. But, when you check your balance at the end of the month, you might be in for a nasty surprise. Use your debit and credit cards to pay for the big things. But when you go out - shopping, for dinner, for drinks - leave the cards at home and just take the cash you intend to spend. Once your money's gone, it's time to go home.
7). Check out old debits
Do you check your bank statements at the end of every month? Probably not. If you did, you might spot a handful of debit orders you don't even recognise. What's this for, again? These days, we can't afford to be making payments for things we no longer need. So dump those old debits. Cancel anything you don't need. And think twice before giving out credit card details for debit orders again.
8). Download a smart savings app
Saving can be tough if you're doing it on your own. It's easy to lose track. But the app development world is overflowing with clever budgeting and money-savings apps. Available for free, or for a minimal monthly fee. We love apps like 22seven, SnapnSave and Spending Tracker. They'll help you with everything from shopping perks to consolidating your accounts and managing savings.
9). Stick to a shopping list
We diligently make them, and then set about grabbing things off the shelves as we walk past. And chips and chocolate are never on the list, yet somehow make it into our trolley anyway. An easy saving tip? Write a comprehensive shopping list, then stick to it. And never grocery shop when you're hungry!
10). Look out for opportunities
When the economy takes a dip - like in the face of COVID-19 - people look to take their money elsewhere. Which means trading prices drop dramatically. But, most stocks and assets will eventually return to their pre-COVID value. If you take advantage of the lower prices, you could grow your savings even in a recession. The key here is to have a strategy, stay calm, and seek the advice of a financial advisor if you're new to the investment world.