If you thought you were the only one to run out of money before the end of the month, you’re not alone: according to the TymeBank More Month Than Money Su rvey, released during National Savings Month, for 76% of us the reality is our income doesn’t last until pay day and for 57% of us our bank accounts are empty by the 15th of the month. If we’re women, this is even truer (59% vs. 56% of men).
So what’s going on? For starters, times are certainly tough. While we have had some good news with a welcome decrease in the repo rate, by and large the cost of living – the petrol price, electricity, groceries - just goes up and up. Just think about how much you’re paying for somewhere to live! For the majority of us, our homes – whether we are renting or bonding – come first and are our single, biggest expense (41%). This is followed by groceries (24%) and transport (10%) - we do after all need to eat and get around. But with these Big Three costs taking the lion’s share of our cash, it doesn’t leave much leftover, unless we have a radical rethink of how we spend our money.
Here Sam Beckbessinger, author of “Manage your money like a f*cking grown-up” and contributor to the TymeBank Survey, shares 10 drastic tried-and- trusted tips to managing our money:
1. Track your spending. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Use a free app like 22seven to see where your money is really going.
2. Make more money. Many of us are never taught how to negotiate for a better salary, especially women. Margaret Neale has some excellent videos on the topic that you can find online, for free. If that’s not an option, it might be time to start a side-hustle.
3. Rent out a room. Your biggest expense is probably housing, so it’s the place where one change can have the biggest impact. If you’ve got any extra space, consider renting out a room to bring your household costs down.
4. Reconsider your car. Have you done the maths on how much you could save by being a one car family, or downgrading your snazzy wheels for something more utilitarian, or relying on public transport?
5. Slash your food bills. Your grandma was smart: you can save a lot of time and money by pre-prepping your meals in bulk, and freezing them. If you’ve got delicious home-cooked food read-to-go, you’re less likely to be tempted by takeouts. Beans are delicious, healthy and incredibly cheap.
6. Give yourself pocket money. If you’re an impulse spender (no judgement, I am too) try keeping your day-to-day spending money in a separate bank account (or as cash), and topping it up every Monday. It’s much easier to manage a week’s worth of money than a month’s.
7. Save on your cellphone. Cellphone contracts add up to a LOT of money over time. Switch to prepaid and buy a cheap phone with cash.
8. Bust your bank fees. Love spending your money on your bank? Neither do I. If you’re still stuck with a bank account that costs you hundreds of rands every month, it’s time to look for something cheaper.
9. Get smarter insurance. There are a host of new insurance players out there that are offering excellent, cheap insurance packages (Naked Insurance and IndieFin, for instance), so if you’ve had the same insurance for a while, it’s worth shopping around. Also, make sure that you don’t have too much insurance. Insure against the stuff that can bankrupt you (like disability cover, and a hospital plan). For stuff like losing a cellphone, rather start building up an emergency savings account.
10. Deal with the feels. We are living through some tough economic times. You’re not alone in your money struggles, and they’re not your fault. We’re all out there doing the best we can. There’s no space here for blame or guilt or shame. Please be kind to yourself.
Following even just a few of these tips can make a big difference. It starts with an acknowledgment of your financial situation – no matter how you look at it, if you’re running out of money before the end of the month, you need to make a change – and committing to doing things differently such as choosing a bank that backs you; TymeBank for instance offers low to no fees on its EveryDay transactional account and up to 10% interest per annum on savings.