HomeEditorial CommentIncrease your capacity to save money in 2015

Increase your capacity to save money in 2015

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HAVING personally struggled to increase my savings in 2014, I thought it may be important to share with others, some useful tips on how we can unlock that extra cash from our normal budgets to increase our chances of building a savings pot during 2015.

Most of us obviously are finding it incredibly difficult to save money, given the many demands on our small incomes.

However, we should not resign ourselves to the belief that we are “savings failures”. For many of us there is also a belief that for one to save money, one must have a lot of income or spare cash. These are savings myths.

No matter how little you earn, it is good discipline and a good habit to save some of your income. Saving requires discipline, commitment and patience.

While it is generally true that a person’s propensity to save increases with disposable income, it is also true that one can save money by changing a few “hardwired” bad habits.

Here are a few tips on how to save:
Have a budget and a savings plan: The very first step in getting into the discipline of saving is to have a budget and a plan.

The budget will lay out what your monthly income is versus what expenditures you have. Some people will say saving should rank highly on the budget, typically soon after rent, and other monthly commitments. Don’t put saving at the bottom of the list. Also set out a target for saving to help you motivate yourself.

Buying groceries in bulk: Groceries constitute a big chunk of our monthly expenditures. If you have regular income, try and buy groceries in bulk to enjoy bulk discounts.

If you have friends and relatives, form up buying clubs where you can make a single shopping trip to a cash-and-carry shop once a month. It pays to have a shopping list in advance so that you avoid impulse buying.

Eliminate unnecessary luxuries: While one can spoil themselves once in a while, it is a good habit to systematically cut out luxuries from your list of expenditure.

Things like soft drinks can be a drain on your budget. Convenience stores generally charge just upwards of a dollar for a soft drink and buying large quantities of soft drinks is no better deal. For the home, buy cordials and syrups which can be diluted with chilled water or drink plain water instead.

Conserve electricity: Turning off the lights in rooms that no one is in saves energy and ultimately money. This can save several dollars on your electricity bill every month.

Turn off computers, televisions and anything else that uses electricity, when these items are not in use. When cooking things like sugar beans and “maguru” and “mathumbu”, that require long hours of boiling on the gas or electric stove, cook them in larger quantities to save energy.

Reuse food stored in the freezer: After cooking a large meal, make sure you use the leftovers. Many people are guilty of piling food leftovers in their fridges and, yet they never get to use it. Sometimes the food eventually spoils and is thrown away.

Re-use leftovers while they are still fresh, typically at the very next meal if possible. It is good to try and use something from the freezer in every meal by innovating around leftover food.

Cook rice or noodles often: Rice or noodles can go with a lot of meals. Most of these meals will require little or no meat. They also store longer in the freezer and make versatile ingredients for leftover-based meals.

Try noodles and vegetable soups, sugar beans and rice, macaroni and cheese dishes and spaghetti sauce to go with rice or a meal of spaghetti and mince.

Enjoy meat and vegetable stir fries, stews in your home rather than have whole meat roasts. Vegetables are cheaper and generally healthier and will bulk up a meal with protein, vitamins and minerals and dietary fibre, which is not found in meat.

Grow some of your own vegetables: Getting your vegetables from the garden can save up money which you can channel into savings.

Saving 50c a day buy not buying green leaf veggies from the shops amounts to $188 dollars in savings in a year.

Reduce laundry frequency: Wash full loads of clothes as opposed to small washes every day. This is an effective way to improve on use of water, laundry soap and fabric fresheners.

If you are using a washing machine, wash one large load, instead of two small loads. This saves on water as well as laundry chemicals.

Cut on fuel
Avoid congested routes when driving to work. Take the quickest routes that save you on fuel and time. Do not drive at high speed only to break to slow speeds after a few seconds rather pick a steady safe speed for your route that optimises fuel use.

If the shopping mall is close by, it pays not to use the car. Take a healthy leisurely walk instead of using your car.

Avoid or reduce interest on debts: Most people have not noticed that utility service providers for electricity, water, and telephones offer you a last payment date on the amount owed before a certain date after which they charge a late payment fee or interest.

Clothing retail shops also apply interest on the outstanding balances on accounts if instalments have not been received by due date.

Stay at home sometimes: If you are not going anywhere, you’re not spending. Enjoy the television with your spouse or partner or play with the kids.

Be disciplined to keep your savings safe in the bank: Finally, but not least, when you have saved some dollars, keep the savings in the bank in a savings account which is not easily accessible. Keep your savings account separately from your transactional or salary account.

Clive Mphambela is a banker. He writes in his capacity as advocacy officer for the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ). BAZ expressly invites other stakeholders to give their valuable comments and feedback related to this article to him on clive@baz.org.zw or on numbers 04-744686, 0772206913

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