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When I ask people what their financial goals are, saving money is always in the top 3. But they also tell me that they don’t know how, or they don’t have any good ideas. Well, good news – I’ve done the work for you and I hope to challenge your thinking.

Now, wouldn’t you rather use some money for something else – paying off debt, saving for a holiday, investing, etc?

o 1. Decide what you want to save and transfer it out of your main account as soon as you get paid

Somehow, you will make the rest work with your budget. I’ve been saving this way for the last 10 years and I’ve only ever had to take some of the money out about 6 times. If you don’t have anything budgeted for savings, then start with a small amount. You’ll get hooked on saving soon enough and that amount will start to increase.

o 2. Write down your expenses, day by day.

Yes, it is a bit annoying to do this, especially at first. But if you want to know where your money goes, it’s the quickest way to find out. And you’ll notice that after a week or two of accounting for your money, you start automatically correcting your course. Suddenly you realize that your 3pm daily habit of Coke and a Bar One from the vending machine works out to a substantial amount every month. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever get anything fun. Buy two snack packs of chocolates at the grocery store to last you the month, and just like that, you’ve saved stacks of money.

o 3. Never go shopping on an empty stomach.

You’ll end up with a trolley full of junk food that you normally wouldn’t have bought had you not been starving. When I heed just this one tip, I cut my monthly food bill by about 30%!

o 4. Make a list of errands before you leave the house

When you do this, you can plan your route and also make sure to do everything you need to do. Otherwise it’s a case of “we forgot to pay the phone” once you’re back home. You then waste time and petrol having to go back the same way.

o 5. Always, always, always use a shopping list

You can download one from my website. Use a fridge magnet and attach it to the front of your fridge. Then train your family to mark off the item as soon as it’s nearing empty. What’s the point of adding toilet rolls to the list when you’ve just used the last one?! It’s easy to be assaulted by all the sale signs once you’re inside the store. A shopping list helps you to focus. I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to be flexible. It’s just that with a shopping list, you make sure that you definitely get everything you need.

o 6. Check the lower shelves in stores

Stores pack all the most expensive items at eye level, so next time you buy some salad dressing or whatever, don’t just grab the first thing you see. Compare the prices of all the brand names, being sure to look at all the items. It will take a bit of time the first time you do this, but once you’re used to it, you’ll know.

o 7. Only buy enough fresh produce for your needs

You can get so easily hooked with the “3 bags of tomatoes for R20” and “2 cucumbers for R10” signs. But if you stop to think about your needs, you’ll realise that you don’t need 3 bags for just 2 people. I used to think that they only sold them packaged like that until I took one bag of tomatoes to the till one day and… lo and behold, nothing special happened. They only charged me for one bag!

o 8. Try online grocery shopping, especially if you’re an undisciplined shopper

We have good friends who have been shopping online for about 3 years. She swears that they save at least 20% every month, and that’s after paying the delivery charge. That’s because it totally eliminates all the impulse buys – food on a hungry stomach, and cute stuff.

o 9. Never go shopping when you’re cross or upset.

This is a variation of number 3 except for the fact that you’re likely to feed your emotional hunger. All the ladies know what I’m talking about. You’re cross because of something that happened at work, go to the mall and end up buying a lipstick, handbag or clothes that you don’t need. We all do it – some of us just buy bigger items than others.

o 10. Always pay your accounts on time to avoid interest charges.

Remember that with credit cards, your purchases are interest-free for 45 days BUT if you’re a day late, you’re not only charged interest for the day; interest is charged from the purchase date.

o 11. Plan your meals

When you plan your meals by the week (as I do) or by the month, you will save money. Firstly, you can use up all the food in the freezer before buying more, and secondly, you’ll know exactly what you need to get from the shops. I have a look through my freezer to check that there’s enough food for the week. I then make my list and go shopping. Then on Sunday afternoon, I decide which meals we’ll eat on which days and attach my meal planner to the side of the fridge. It then takes me maximum 30 minutes to get supper on the table every night. See? Saving you time and money! Download your meal planner from my website.

o 12. Eat more pulses

Pulses are things like lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc. They are a great source of protein and you can use them to replace the meat in one or two meals a week. For example, use lentils as a mince substitute for your bolognaise sauce, or top your baked potatoes with a chickpea, tomato, spinach and cheese sauce. Delicious! Not only will you save some of your meat money but you’ll be healthier too.

o 13. Limit the number of cleaning products you use

I use a multipurpose cleaner, toilet disinfectant, dish washing liquid and a multipurpose gel. I could combine the last two but I must confess – I’m hooked on my brand of dish washing liquid. I use the multipurpose gel for washing the car, cleaning windows and mirrors, as a shower spray, to clean carpets, etc. All you do is squeeze a generous amount into an empty spray bottle, fill with water and shake to mix.

o 14. Look out for a free car wash

I’ve noticed that many service stations offer a free “wash and go” if you spend a certain amount on petrol. Look around you and start using these services.

o 15. Switch from fizzy cool drinks to water

You will save hundreds every month and… you’ll also be healthier and will lose some weight.

And now for a bonus… hire a financial coach

Yes, initially there is an investment. But over time, the rewards will be HUGE. Your coach will help you to accelerate your progress and help you to pay off your debt and save some money.

Happy saving! My wish for you is financial happiness!

15 Top Tips to Save Money

15 Top Tips to Save Money