Ways to save when times are tough

Most of us are chronic under-savers even in the best of times. Yet with the current economic environment, lots of previously hypothetical concepts like ‘what if I’m retrenched or have my salary cut?’ are far more concrete – and, unfortunately, more likely to happen.

There’s never been a time when saving is more important, but there’s also likely never been a time when it’s more difficult.

Do you want to put something away for a rainy day (or retirement) but don’t know how to stretch your money far enough to do so? Here are some ideas.

Change it up

Most of us want to budget, but the truth is that it’s tough and can be really… really boring. We want the benefits, but not to cut our creature comforts out of the picture. One of the most effective ways to have your cake and save it, too, is to put away all spare, leftover change. Got a cheeseburger for R53? Put away R7 to make it an even R60. These tiny amounts are not only indiscernible to the average person, even on a budget; they also add up fast.

There are apps and platforms that can help you do this – micro-saving on a daily basis makes it much easier than trying to commit to a large some at the start or end of every month. If you practice a cash-diet – you can even use a jar for these savings. Old-school can be cool.


We don’t have to eat so much meat. In fact, we don’t have to eat meat at all! Tally up your grocery bill, and you’ll often find that by far your most expensive items are from the meat, dairy and egg isles. Find some good recipes online and try to go vegetarian for dinner two nights a week. Calculate how much you would have spent on meat for those meals and put the money in a savings kitty instead.

Hard cash

It’s so easy not to stick to a tight budget these days, when money is nothing more than a few numbers on a screen. To help you save on day-to-day smaller expenses like weekly groceries, toiletries and your daily work cappuccino, try withdrawing the amount of money you’ve budgeted for those items, for that week. Seeing the physical money in your hands and being able to note how much or little is left is a powerful savings tool that can help with splurging only on what really matters to you.


Another way to be mindful about not only cutting expenses, but actively saving, is to write down all the money you spend and all the money you put away. Patterns might suddenly become obvious to you that weren’t before: ‘wow, I always spend too much money on groceries when I shop on an empty stomach!’ Knowledge is power in this case, and this mindfulness can help with saving cents and getting competitive with yourself about putting more and more away each month for the future. There are plenty of handy apps for it, or you could buy a hip notebook to jot them down in.

(Don’t) take the credit

If you have them, get rid of clothing accounts, cellphone contracts and credit cards as soon as you can. The interest in repayments on these is excessive – you’re often paying more than double what the item actually costs! Repayments like these also eat up your monthly budget without you even realising. Buy only what you can afford, don’t spend unnecessarily. Try keeping your same phone a little longer (or springing for a reputable second-hand option) and pay off credit card debt as fast and as often as you can.ups

Go pro

When saving and scrimping rands and cents, it might sound like madness to spend money on a financial adviser.

At the end of the day, these are just ideas – no one can grow your savings for you but you, and no one will have the best idea of what method works for you individually except yourself. Still, as a starting point, give these a try. With these tips, some planning and some determination, you’ll reach your savings goals in no time.

Posted in Blog, MARKET.