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An extra R1 000 in your budget

For those who are desperate, the implementation of a couple of simple measures could save more than R1 000 a month.

Shop online
Online grocery shopping sites usually list the prices of items from lowest to highest. This makes for an easy way to compare brands and ensure the best value for money. By shopping online we avoid going into the store where we tend to be tempted to buy non-essential items. Buying online makes sure you stick to your shopping list.

Although the price of petrol is regulated, diesel is not. Check out petrol stations along your daily routes to see which offers the best price.

Energy costs
A lot has been written about this topic given our electricity crisis. But remember to switch off lights, use energy-efficient bulbs, insulate geysers and either install a timer or switch it off at night and during the day. Installing a solar geyser is the best energy-saving strategy.

Rather than going to entertainment centres have a picnic with the children at the local park or community centre. A family of four go to a restaurant each week easily sets you back R500, or R26 000 a year. Yet R500 could cover the cost of a whole week's worth of home-cooked dinners for the same family. If you tend to have two cappuccinos when you meet friends for coffee, cut back to one. It is better for your health and could save you R200 a month.

There are a lot of aggressive deals out there. Shop around and make sure you are getting the best value for money. You might not need all the bandwidth you pay for.

To reduce your monthly premiums Santam recommends reducing the cover on your car, which depreciates over time. You can therefore adjust the insured value of your vehicle every year and reduce premiums. Vehicles are insured at market value, whereas house contents are insured for their replacement value. If your vehicle is old and not worth much then it is best to opt for fire, accident and third-party cover only. Increasing the excess on insurance will bring down premiums.

Shopping around for the best possible deal on your home loan. Negotiate with your current lender and if no meaningful concessions on the rate are on offer, consider switching to another lender.

Questions the necessity of a home phone considering we all own cellphones, usually with off-peak minutes. Axing Telkom will save you R98,16 a month or R1 177 a year. Buying SMSes in bulk and using them to communicate rather than making a call will also slash your cellphone bill.

With load-shedding, how much TV are we getting to watch anyway? By cancelling DStv you save R478 a month or R5 700 a year. Or if you still need some additional viewing, downgrade to the smaller package, DStv compact, for R199.

Less smoke
The average smoker can save R8 556 a year by quitting. At about R23 a pack, cigarettes set you back R806 a month, or R9 672 a year. It might be hard to quit altogether, but even cutting back by half will save you nearly five grand a year.

Gym subscription
If you are not using your gym membership, now is the time to own up and cancel. It is just making you feel guilty and putting the money into your budget will alleviate the guilt.

Hire for the occasion
If you are invited to an event and need that special outfit to go with it, you don't have to buy one. There are many places, such as Not Tonight Josephine, which hire out evening wear. After all, you want to be seen in the outfit only once.
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