When Your Income Drops Save Money Fast

Many South African families are facing a financial crisis. Jobs are scarce, wages are down and inflation is gobbling up the little that we have. If your credit cards are maxed and your credit record is in tatters, you have to cut back on spending, and you have to do this now. But where to start, especially when you have so little energy left over when you get home at night.

The South African Energy Crisis

We are in a national pickle right now, with energy prices going up at ridiculous rates almost every month. Each time the value of the rand drops, up go prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and illuminating paraffin. For some reason that only governments understand, the price does not go down as fast when the rand strengthens. The government scores on vat while supplier profits go up. It is almost as if there is a conspiracy between them.

Burning on a Gas Stove

Eskom is equally unrealistic when it comes to the electricity price. This has almost doubled in the past few years, and this is going to get a whole lot worse according to financial analysts. Could the time come when you and I can no longer afford to pay our electricity bills? We have to find ways of using less electricity, without having to fork out on expensive technology we can’t afford either.

Save Money on Your Petrol Bill

To cut back on your petrol expenses you have to use your own car less. This is hardly rocket science, although you do need to change your habits, which is never easy. To whet your appetite, you will save money in not one, but three exciting ways:

  • You pay less money at the pump
  • You have fewer car services to pay for
  • Your car lasts for that much longer

Tip 1: Don’t Drive in the Rush Hour

I did mention old habits are hard to kick! Driving in the rush hour is plain crazy. Think about it. Your journey takes longer - you get cross; you burn more fuel - you get irritated; you have a fender-bender - that makes you furious! If you are one of the privileged South Africans who have a car and a job too, negotiate with your boss about working different hours.

Point out that you are fresher first thing in the morning, and would like to start work at 7 a.m. Alternatively, mention the advantages of having someone in the office to answer the phone up to 6 p.m. If all else fails, perhaps you should change your take on life and have a go at public transport? You may just find it is more convivial fun than getting speeding fines from hidden cameras!

Tip 2: Change Your Driving Habits

Some people believe that there is a conspiracy between motor manufacturers and oil refineries. They think the former design their engines to gulp petrol when you floor the pedal, while the latter put additives in the petrol that wear out your engine faster when you do just that.

Did you know that you could save 25% on petrol consumption by driving steadily and taking 10% longer to reach your destination? Your car will be more reliable, your tires will last longer, and you will enjoy driving in the slow lane a whole lot more too.

Tip 3 Combine Your Shopping Trips

Having your own car has many advantages if you use it wisely. If you can afford it, you are free of public transport and you can travel almost anywhere at will. Unfortunately, this can also bite you, especially when we jump into the car to buy a single loaf of bread or a half litre of milk.

As in many of our other tips, you’ll save money twice over, especially when you shop once a week selectively and search for bargains. Many shops have begun offering buy-two discounts recently. When you shop once a week, this makes a huge amount of sense. And of course you save petrol too!

Save Money on Your Electricity Bill

Just as is the case with cutting back on petrol costs, you have to burn less electricity to save there too. These days Eskom costs so much that I see banknotes flash past my eyes when somebody leaves a light burning in the bathroom. Wasting money on Eskom is so unnecessary when you follow the tips below:

Energy Saving

Tip 1: Manage Your Hot Water Geyser

Wrap a hot water cylinder blanket around your geyser in the attic. These cost less than R100 when you shop around, and can cut your hot water costs by up to 25%. While you are up there, turn the thermostat down too. Cut hot water expenses by a further 25% by running your geyser for just two hours in the morning when you first wake up. You should have enough in the evening for rinsing dishes. If not, run it for an hour in the afternoon when you come home.

Tip 2: Turn the Television Off at the Wall

TV’s are huge electricity guzzlers, even when left on standby with the just the red light showing. Once you get the family knocked into shape you’ll discover another great advantage. The family TV is no longer at risk from lightning strikes and Eskom power surges when you are out.

Tip 3: The Kitchen Kettle, Would You Believe It?

I left the simplest tip until last. Household kettles are energy-guzzling disasters because they boil water inefficiently in the fastest possible way. When you fill the kettle to the mark and do not use all the water, you end up boiling water you are never going to use! Put just sufficient in, and it boils that much faster for less money. Now that’s a bargain you should leap to!

There are so many other ways that South Africans can save money when they apply the principle of not wasting things. Perhaps you have something you’d like to share with everybody. If so, do drop us a line with your photograph and your suggestion, and we’ll be delighted to publish both of them right here.