6 ways to spring-clean your finances
Spring has sprung (in our hearts if not in the actual temperature) and we’re feeling fresh – but is your budget looking a bit worse for wear? Now’s a good time to dust things off, overhaul your expenses and spring-clean your finances. It’s a fresh start for the new season and the best way to save some shekels before the festive madness kicks off.
Step 1: Put your budget under the microscope
No one loves being on a budget, so let’s start by reframing the exercise. Don’t think of budgeting as restricting or sacrificing the things you enjoy; instead, look at it as prioritising your expenses so that you can potentially enjoy more things. Making smart changes now means you can a) stop lying awake at night worrying that you’re going to die poor and b) free up cash to put towards something you love.
Takeaways, a cheeky after-work drink, a fast-fashion haul or two… Small expenses can add way, way up. Comb through your bank statements or download an app that automatically categorises your spending and you’ll have a clearer idea of exactly where your money is going. You may think you don’t have cash to start that hobby you’ve been dreaming about, only to discover you’re somehow spending twice as much every month on toasted sarmies from the coffee shop near your office.
Step 2: Audit your subscriptions
Sure, you love a good Netflix and chill… But does your heart also really belong to Showmax, Disney+, BritBox and DStv? What about those seemingly innocuous app subscriptions? (Nobody needs that many presets.) And when last did you actually do that at-home HIIT workout?
The amounts may seem small when you sign up, but R49 or R129 coming off your account ad infinitum quickly adds up! Make a list of all your subscriptions and do the maths, then decide which ones are really worth your bucks every month.
Step 3: Set up a savings debit order
It’s difficult to save if you wait to see what’s left at the end of the month (usually a nice chunky zero, right?). An automated debit order into a savings account on pay day is the best way to make sure you’re putting money away every month. You don’t need to think about it, and it’s safely tucked away before you can say ‘But there’s a sale on at iStore’. Your day-to-day spending may feel slightly restricted for a while, but you’re actually making yourself richer thanks to compound interest. Plus you’ll be glad of any short-term savings if there’s an emergency.
Step 4: Consolidate your debt
A store account here, a credit card there, a loan somewhere… It might be time to put all your debt eggs into one basket. By consolidating all your loans into one account with one monthly repayment, you’ll start to untangle a potentially messy financial situation. It’s also likely that your overall interest rate will be lower. Sounds like something that could work for you? Read more about debt consolidation here.
Step 5: Revise your policies
Car insurance, medical aid, disability cover and the like may be the least fun side of adulting, but they’re necessary expenses. That doesn’t mean you should be paying through the nose for these things, though. Relook your policies and decide if each one is still the best fit for you. There may be a new (cheaper!) plan on the market or your circumstances may have changed.
Step 6: Plan ahead
Buy your festive-season gifts early. Like, for real this year. That way, you spread the financial load across a few months, you don’t have to spend your leave days trawling a mall, and you can take advantage of deals along the way (ahem, Black Friday).
The last word
Spring-cleaning isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but trust us when we say that the juice will be worth the squeeze. And by ‘juice’, we mean extra cash and a sense of financial security. You don’t have to do it all in a day, either. Just start somewhere – a few small changes will quickly make a big difference.
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