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In these trying economic times, it’s often difficult to ensure your budget lasts as long as the month. At African Rainbow Life, we understand the value of a Rand and that’s why we’ve put together some practical tips to keep more money in your pocket every month.

Successful budget management

Having a budget is very important. If you haven’t done this already, draw up a budget so you know exactly where your money is going each month. Your budget will reveal where you can spend less and save more. You must distinguish between your needs and wants. Clothing is a need, but do you really need that designer item? Pay yourself first, you deserve it! Put money away for savings as soon as you receive your income. This is easier to do than you think. Decide on a realistic amount to spend on entertainment and personal expenses and stick to it. Take time when planning your monthly budget and make sure it is not too tight and restrictive, but rather realistic.

Create healthy spending habits

Spending on things that are less important expenses – happens easily. When that money could be used for achieving a goal or for emergency savings. Since swiping your plastic is so convenient, make a habit of leaving your credit cards at home and only bring them out in emergencies. Beware of luxuries dressed up as necessities. Watch out for cash leakage. If cash in your purse disappears leaving you with nothing to show for it, take note of what you spend this cash on. Although it’s tempting to spend more when your income climbs due to well-deserved raises, promotions and smart investing, use those increases to save more.

Plan your spending

Plan purchases and only buy what you planned to buy. Make a shopping list and stick to it so you don’t overspend. Park closest to the store you want to go to so that you not tempted while walking through the mall. When buying big, expensive items do an online search for price comparisons. Always ask yourself: do I really need this? If the answer is no, put the item back and walk away. Carry less cash and leave your credit cards at home unless you need to make a planned purchase.

Make small changes

Small savings can add up to big savings. Buy generic wherever possible. Bring your own lunch to work. Look at your cell phone bills and make sure you are using your free minutes and that you are on the most cost-effective plan. Use pre-paid cards for your children’s cell phones. Cut out on long-distance telephone calls, call when the rates are cheaper or send an email instead. Cut back on eating out and rekindle the art of eating at home creatively. Search online for new recipe ideas and discover your inner chef. Get the family involved it makes for a great activity. Do grocery shopping less frequency to reduce possible impulse buys. There are cheaper alternatives to satellite television and going to the cinema. Use your free points or movie vouchers to save costs on these outings. We all know how costly such an outing can be.

It is important to avoid wasteful spending if you want to make every Rand stretch as far as possible. If you have some extra money at the end of the month always put it towards paying off debt, like your credit card, bond or even your car first. Saving towards an emergency fund or achieving goals like clearing debt or saving for a deposit for a house, your kids education or that well deserved family holiday should take priority. The result: a better lifestyle for you and your family!

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