Saving money for the unexpected with 10 simple tips

For many of us, saving money seems like an unrealistic dream. However, it’s actually a behavioural change that needs to happen.

Image by Andre Taissin

With July being National Savings Month, this could be the push many people need to begin to save, not just this month, but forevermore.  

Annually, the South African Savings Institute partners with financial experts and other organisations on a national savings awareness campaign. 

However, research done during Covid-19 and a series of national lockdowns has revealed that many people are unprepared for a financial emergency.

According to Ester Ochse, Product Head at FNB Money Management, saving money for unexpected events should be part of any financial resilience plan.

Having savings in place makes it easier to pay for fixing, for example, a burst geyser or for a bumper bashing – or even for the excess on your insurance.

“Our internal research has revealed that fewer than 7% of FNB clients have enough money saved up to be able to cover living expenses for three months if they were to suddenly lose their income. This is across our client base and we believe that it is a good proxy for the country,” says Ochse.

However, the reason why many people are not saving money is not because of lack of money. It is the choices people make when deciding what to spend their money on, and what to save for and working towards achieving that goal.

“There’s a link between our spending and savings habits,” points out Ochse.

Ochse explains that if we want to start saving money, we first need to think about and understand where we’re spending our money, and why. We can then make conscious decisions to channel more money into the things we value most, and less money into temporary gratification purchases.

Data from TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse reveal that 83% of households view saving money as more important than before the pandemic.

Among consumers whose income is currently decreased, 93% feel that it’s extremely important to have savings for unexpected events or financial setbacks, according to TransUnion.

Setting goals

Much like travelling, which requires a map and a destination, saving money requires personal goals and commitment.

Himal Parbhoo, CEO of FNB Cash Investments, says that the main goals identified by more than 12,500 FNB customers who use the bank’s innovative goals-based savings application, want to save money for the unexpected.

“The identification of emergency savings as a top goal shows that South Africans are increasingly understanding the importance of saving money as a way of securing their financial resilience,” states Parbhoo.  

Parbhoo adds that it is important to use the appropriate savings vehicle. For example, if you want to save for emergencies, put the money into a savings account that gives you instant access to your funds.

For long-term goals such as a holiday or a car deposit, a fixed deposit account may be the best option.  

Cash investments add value to an investment portfolio

10 tips to save money

According to FNB, the challenge for many people is figuring out how to find spare money and decide where best to save it.

Think of how much money you could save simply by saving R1, R2 or R5 every day – that’s R365, R730 or R1,825 per year! Here are 10 simple tips to speed up your savings.

1.  Bank digitally. Deposit cash at an ATM, withdraw cash while shopping at a supermarket that offers this service (it’s cheaper!) and transact from your phone (make sure your settings are secure).

2. Cancel subscriptions/memberships. For example, if you no longer go to the gym or you watch very little TV, it’s time to cancel these subscriptions and instead, save the cash.

3. Cut down on buying takeaway coffee. Instead, buy your own coffee and coffee beans, which will last for a while. If you calculate the amount of money you spend on coffee daily or weekly, you will soon notice a sizeable saving.

4. Make a plan to pay off your debt. It’s a good idea to pay off debt such as credit cards and loans instead of paying the high interest incurred by these debts.

5. Maximise loyalty programmes. These include FNB eBucks, Standard Bank UCount Rewards, Clicks, Dischem, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Checkers, among many others. Learn how these work and you will start saving money on your purchases.

6. Needs versus wants. When it comes to spending and shopping, learn to identify your needs from your wants. Bread and milk are needs, whereas takeaways every week are wants.

7. Shop with a list. Have you ever been tempted to buy items that are ‘reduced’ or seem like a good deal such as when buying groceries or other items? If it’s not on your list, don’t buy it.

8. Stick to your budget. If, like me, you compare prices before shopping and make a list, then stick to your list, and in doing so, you spend within your budget.

9. Stokvels. Saving money can become easier when people get together and pool their money. Most people involved in stokvels use this money to buy groceries at the end of the year, or to save for large purchases. FNB’s Stokvel Accounts for saving attract no monthly fee and do not charge for ATM deposits.

10. Watch your shopping habits. Remember the movie: Confessions of a shopaholic? Just because its ‘New’ or ‘On sale’ does not mean you must buy it. With many people working from home, practical clothes are fine, instead of piling in on formal wear that will never be worn.

“The key to saving money is not to wait until you believe you have enough spare cash to save. It is best to start right now,” add both Ochse and Parbhoo.

Do you have more tips for saving money? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

Edited by Gudrun Kaiser

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.

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