Budgeting in 2018

Budgeting is crucial. Many South Africans have been complaining about not having enough money. 2017 seemed to put strain on everyone’s pockets, leaving over 70% of middle-class South Africans in financial stress. With thousands of households struggling to make ends meet, imagine how many more consumers are becoming indebted.

Short term debt, such as credit cards and personal loans, are easy to obtain and have been the main culprits for leading people to financial trouble. Financial experts predict that high unemployment rates, political uncertainty, low economic growth and low confidence are some of the many reasons South Africans are not going to be saving a lot in 2018 – but also, most of them just don’t have enough money to live, let alone save.

Although the financial situation in the country seems awfully bleak, every South African can manage their money effectively to ensure a better financial standing. Here are some important budgeting tips for the new year.

Scrutinise your 2017 budget

Review your 2017 budget to see what you spent your money on throughout the year. You will have to revise all your old bank account and credit card statements to record what you wasted money on and then find ways to cut unnecessary costs in 2018.

See how you can track your spending here.



Draw up a list of expenses

If you don’t have a program to help you create a budget, excel is a great program to use to draw up a budget sheet. Start by listing all your expenses, not forgetting to add new expenses that you will need to cover in 2018. Include all the extra expenses, such as holidays, events, upcoming birthdays, etc.

Figure out ways you can save money

Once you have all your expenses listed, you can see whether your salary can cover all your expenses – if not, you will have to start cutting down some of your unnecessary spending.

If you have money leftover after all your expenses are paid, you can either put it into savings, spend it on things you really need or knock off some of your debt.

There are various small ways you can save money, including:

  • Swiping your card instead of withdrawing cash at ATMs
  • Not drinking takeaway coffee
  • Making home cooked meals instead of buying takeout
  • Switching off lights and electrical appliances to save electricity
  • Not buying snacks at convenience stores
  • Getting rid of cable television

Set financial goals

Now’s the time to start planning for the future. Create short-term and long-term financial goals – your goals may be anything from saving for a new couch to putting money towards an investment. Make sure all your goals are listed and you put a plan of action in place to achieve them.


Automate your monthly bills

Make sure all your bills are automated to come off your account after payday. This will ensure you are aware of how much money you have left to spend and you don’t accidentally go into overdraft at the end of the month.

Pay off credit card debt as soon as possible

Getting into credit card debt is easy, but paying it back usually isn’t. However, with a bit of commitment and discipline, you can free yourself from consumer debt. Focus on knocking down your credit cards that charge the most interest first. Just remember to avoid getting into any more debt.  If you can’t pay off your debt, contact a debt counsellor for help.

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