Before we could easily access print publications online, I remember how we would eagerly wait for the weekly delivery of the Sunday newspaper at home. So, this is how we would split and rotate the newspaper. Dad would have the first dibs of the current affairs section, reading through columnists’ opinions and analysis, my older sister would grab the lifestyle segment of the paper, I would browse through the travel and entertainment content while Mom diligently studied the advertorial, marking the specials that retail stores were offering while drawing up a grocery list. This was something she did weekly, keeping these catalogues in a safe file as the grocery list for her next grocery shopping trip. If a retail sales representative dared to deny the special, she had evidence to back her.

There are so many ways we can save and cut down on unnecessary expenses.

Continuing with Part 4 of our National Saving Month Series, I spoke to women who have mastered the art of money conscious living through their areas of interest, to help you assess areas of your financial life that need a little bit of reworking.

Here are Four Money Saving Tips To Learn From Frugal Living

1. Do It Yourself – Create and Refurbish Items in Your Household.

According to DIY Consultant, Yolande Ntsele, saving money is one of the biggest benefits of DIY projects. “When you are able to save money, there is room for you to do other things with the little extra cash in your pocket. Going the DIY route further encourages you to challenge yourself positively”, she says.

Yolande believes that power tools have no gender and shares examples of DIY projects you can consider.

–    Painting your space,

–    Installing wall panelling,

–    Building your own console table,

–    Refurbishing an old coffee table,

–    Building a bookshelf from scratch.

“When going shopping, always go with a shopping list, and only purchase what is on that list. An expensive wood glue from a well-known expensive brand, is likely to be the same quality glue to the cheapest glue in the isle. Ask at your local hardware if there are any in store specials. You might just be lucky”.

Where you can find Yolande: “I am “DIY Yolande” on all social platforms – Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok and Twitter”.

2. Buy Groceries In Bulk

Absie Pantshwa, Business Development Director of African Culinary Library reflects on the first ever lockdown and how in one way or another, we all had to keep a tighter grip on our finances. “All of a sudden, everyone is home all the time, and that means, groceries don’t last too long in our fridges and pantries. Some of us even started rationing how many eggs each person could eat per day”, she says jokingly.  

“Every cent counts right now, jobs are really scarce, and no one knows how things will go back to normal if at all – on the other hand, we have the likes of “Take it or Leave it”, it’s rough out there”, she adds.

As a caterer, Absie has mastered the art of buying quality, affordable food items and shares tips on how to buy consciously.

1. Buy in bulks and split among friends/family. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of our competitors to collaborate in buying high quality products in bulk. If you buy with two or more catering companies, you are in the winning seat at the local Cash & Carry stores or wholesalers. This strategy works for buying personal groceries as well. What I do in a circle of four friends is buy groceries in bulk and we split it amongst the four households. When it comes to fruit and vegetable markets, you can get food items such as olive oil, eggs, nuts and all dairy products as well, at a lower rate. At the butchery, all you need is Ziploc bags to divide among yourselves (stewing meat, steaks, bacon, even biltong is cheaper this way). To keep things fresh and less tedious, we have a grocery pick up party twice a month”, she shares.

2. Grow your own herbs.  Absie says we do not really need a large garden to do this. “More and more people are seed starting and getting their kitchen gardens set up. If you compare buying herbs at a retail store every time you make a special dish, and how much you spend, compared to just buying the actual pot plant, and using it multiple times, it goes a long way. The more you use the more they grow. It’s such a beautiful process. Planting fruit trees also helps. Lemon trees are easy to grow (you might need them for those homemade cocktails)”, she highlights.

3. Buy what’s in season. “Products that are in season are likely to be on promotion. If you don’t know what ‘s in season in your area, just quickly google it. It’s quite accurate. Your diet will love the variety too, says Absie.

4. Reinvent leftovers. Absie advises that this can be done by searching for recipes that include the ingredients in the left-over meal. “YouTube and Pinterest can help a great deal with this. But be careful not to go overboard. These apps can get you really excited. You’ll end up chopping the whole cabbage”.

5. Support local vendors and small farmers. “Deli’s, fruit and veg markets in the CBD or taxi ranks are affordable and incredibly fresh. Online butchery deliveries from small farmers are a win. You can choose your cuts and how you want it packaged. The quality is also good”, says Absie.

Where you can find Absie:

3. Go Thrifting!

“My initial introduction to thrifting and purchasing second-hand clothing was through my mother who has always had a passion for vintage clothing, but at the same time has always been conscious when it comes to her money spending habits. She also showed us that style doesn’t have to come at an expense. And so through her, I was able to discover thrifting as a way to look great and find unique pieces, on a budget – which came in handy especially in my university days”, says Digital Content Creator, Bokang Lehlokoe.

 Bokang shares the following thrifting tips for beginners:

1. Be patient. A big part of thrifting is looking through a whole lot of items before you find the right one for you.

2. Have an idea of what you’re looking for. This will save you a lot of time, but at the same time keep an open mind because you can always find things you never knew existed. 

3. Purchase good quality items. Buy items that will last you a long time over the years.

4. Try to resist buying anything and everything just because it’s cheap. Invest in pieces that you will actually wear.

5. Have fun. Take someone with you if you can (It’s always a lot more fun having company and a second opinion).

Thrifting has also found its way to online spaces. “I’d just advise that people be extra careful and mindful when shopping online because you don’t have the benefit of trying on the clothes or getting a good feel of an item’s quality. There are, however, many online local thrift stores that have a lot of options. In the times we are living in now, it’s more convenient and accessible”, she advises.

My golden tip is, Have Fun! “Every time I go thrifting, it’s a new adventure and you never really know what to expect so enjoy yourself and get some pieces you’ll love and cherish”, she concludes.

Where you can find Bokang: “You can find me on my YouTube channel The B Word and also on Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter at @thebword_za!”

4. Capitalise On Affordable Travel Deals.

“My first introduction of travel was with your typical hotel stay kind of travel, as I grew older, I started exploring different options and forms of travel. I craved to get away but didn’t want to spend much, I just wanted to experience amazing adventures, take in breath-taking views, and make authentic connections. Travelling on a budget gave me just that and more”, says Philile Nzimande, Co-Founder of Traveling Cheapskates, a black, female owned social enterprise that puts together budget friendly travel packages for in and around South Africa.

 When it comes to cutting down financially with travel, she shares the following tips:

1. Choose self-catering options.

2. Travel in groups and share costs.

3. Choose nature experiences- they are usually free and mind blowing.

4. Plan ahead, to avoid overspending. 

5. Take advantage of weekday options. 

Philile highlights that now is the perfect time for local travel (with relaxed lockdown restrictions of course). “South Africa is huge, it gives people a chance to explore all its beauty and more than anything, a chance to experience why travellers from all over the world flock into our country. It’s also an opportunity to participate in rebuilding our economy”, she adds.

Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, travel stokvels are also a great way to save towards traveling when things get back to normal.

Where to find Travelling Cheapskates:  

Final Thoughts

We all have areas in our spending that need a little bit of reassessing. Identify where you can cut down on your spending and apply these techniques to help you save more.