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With our economy expected to contract by 7.2% in 2020, now’s the time to try a zero-based budgeting approach in order to save more money each month. What does that mean? Zero-based budgeting means starting from a base of zero when it comes to your household expenses and commitments, instead of aligning how much you spend on these to what you can afford.

Why not give it a try for 31 days (a month)? Then you can make this money-savvy approach a habit in your daily life.

Day 1: Check your bank account

Take a lesson from your bank statements. Given South Africa’s current financial situation and a rising 30% unemployment rate, now more than ever should you be checking your bank statements to ensure you are not spending money on unnecessary items and commit to buy as little on credit as possible.

Day 2: Set three savings goals

Write them down and commit to them! Is there something you’d really like to do or achieve in the next year and beyond? Start planning by working out how much you need to save. How much will you put away towards your goal every month? What savings vehicles will work for you?

Day 3: Buy bulk on sale

Only shop for necessities in bulk, ideally when they are on sale! Make a list of the things you really need and cannot live without.

Day 4: Enjoy a home-brewed cuppa

Skip your daily cappuccino! While many of us are still working from home, don’t be tempted to head out for your caffeine fix. Rather stay home and have instant/plunger coffee instead. Work out what you will save by doing this and put it towards your goals.

Day 5: Today is cook-a-meal-under-R150 day!

Challenge yourself to buy ingredients for a lunch that does not exceed R150. You will be amazed at the bargains you will find when you are actually looking for them.

Day 6: Check in on insurance premium savings

Most insurance companies are offering their clients discounts while they continue to work from home during lockdown. If you’re not yet back at the office, you should also be saving a lot on petrol costs which could also be saved towards your goals.

Day 7: Dedicated laundry day

Try to make laundry day once a week. Not only will it save you electricity and cleaning products, it will also save water!

Day 8: Watch the entertainment cost creep!

Save the money you would’ve spent on entertainment and put it towards your longer-term saving goals. For this month, focus on free-tainment, like going for a walk, playing a board game with the kids, or streaming a yoga class via YouTube.

Day 9: Learn for free

Find the time to sign up for a free online course to upskill yourself and ensure that you are keeping up with the times in your industry.

Day 10: Bank smarter

Make the best use of your bank account. This might mean reviewing your options and choosing the one which ticks all your needs. It may just save you from paying for services you don’t really need.

“Make the best use of your bank account. This might mean reviewing your options and choosing the one which ticks all your needs. It may just save you from paying for services you don’t really need.”

Day 11: Negotiate your medical costs

Ask your doctor and dentist for payment options or discount for cash payments. Hopefully you won’t have to visit either this month, but if you do – be sure to ask about tariffs and cash payment options. It may just pay off!

Day 12: Nothing beats having a nice meal twice!

A home-cooked meal made with love. Commit to cooking every night this week AND to making enough to have for lunch the following day. We know this is a biggie, but you’ve got this! Plan your meals for the week and buy your groceries in bulk, capitalising on as many discounts as possible.

Day 13: Time to clear out clutter!

Sort through your home and decide what items you no longer love and are prepared to say good-bye to which you could potentially sell off for some cash.

Day 14: Dedicated laundry day

Remember its laundry day today! See Day 7.

Day 15: Don’t let brrrrr break the bank!

Find ways to cut down on heating costs. Buy more blankets and make use of the good old warm water bottle or gas heater to keep you from using the air conditioner to heat your home.

Day 16: Pause memberships where possible

Haven’t been going to the gym, or have a membership you don’t use regularly enough to make it worth the cost? Contact your gym or the company and see if you can cancel early or pause contributions. While some contracts may charge you an early cancellation fee, do the sums as this can still be cheaper than paying monthly for something you don’t use until your contract comes to an end.

Day 17: Grow your own herbs

Use all that time at home wisely and make your own herb garden. Think about all the money you spend on herbs when you go shopping. Plus, it tastes much better fresh from your garden and is a great project to do with the kids!

Day 18: Donate

Declutter your closet and donate what you no longer need to a shelter or help someone in need. Generosity has a feel-good factor!

Day 19: Build a compost bin

Toss all your food waste into a compost bin and it will save you so much money on fertiliser the next time your garden needs a pick me up. It’s also a great way to help the environment.

Day 20: Fix it if it’s broken

Got a pile of shoes with broken soles? Or clothes with holes? Take these to your nearest cobbler or tailor, rather than buying new ones. The same goes for electrical appliances… get a quote to fix them.

Day 21: Dedicated laundry day

Remember its laundry day. See Day 7 and 14.

Day 22: Go veg!

Plan to have three vegetarian dinners this week to save some money on meat.

Day 23: Love being loyal

Investigate joining a loyalty programme. Consider the costs to join and the money you can save.

Day 24: Data savvy you!

Up your app savviness by downloading a data management app and cancel any automatic app updates.

Day 25: Keep it rolling on a shoestring budget

DSTV, Netflix or Showmax? Compare subscription options and look at where you can save – don’t forget the data costs in your comparisons.

Day 26: Switch and ditch?

Depending on your contract and your phone usage, it may be cheaper to opt for pay-as-you-go. Investigate the best option for you and switch if you can. Don’t forget to keep an eye on when your contract renews to avoid unpleasant costly surprises when the 24 months are up.

Day 27: Fresh air can be quite the refresher

Nature costs nada so spend the day outdoors for free. Don’t forget your mask and to keep your distance.

Day 28: Dedicated laundry day

Remember laundry day! See Day 7, 14 and 21.

Day 29: Declutter your subscriptions

Especially now, cut down on unnecessary costs. Be ruthless. Also, consider opting out of in-house club fees for clothing accounts. Don’t forget all those apps on your phone with auto-renewals. These can set you back if you don’t get enough benefit from them.

Day 30: Reward yourself with your favourite meal!

Order in using Uber Eats or Mr D Food to celebrate how savvy you have become!

Day 31: Congratulations – kick-start your savings goals!

You’ve completed the Sanlam 31 Day Frugal Challenge. Now for your final challenge: make sure you put all the money you saved towards the three goals you set on Day 2 and pick a savings option. Get help and advice from an accredited financial planner if you don’t have one already!

Download the 31-Day Challenge so you can stay motivated.

This does not constitute advice; for financial advice speak to a qualified financial planner. Sanlam is a Licensed Financial Services Provider.

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