Keep a budget: As boring as it may seem, you have to know what you have and what you are spending. If you need extra discipline draw the cash you need for day to day expenses as per your budget and put it in an envelope. When that envelope is finished, there is no more money.
Say no to credit: right now make a promise to yourself that 2013 will be the year you take on no new credit. If you really need extra cash find a way to earn it, no matter how menial. Work for yourself, not the bank.
Change your shopping habits: Check the prices of your usual brands and see if there are more cost effective products. Buy your fruit and veggies separately, pre-packed costs more. Always shop with a list, it is less likely that you will spend on unnecessary items.
Eat before you shop: research shows us we have less impulse control when we are hungry; interestingly we are less likely to have control when it comes to our money if we are dieting. Apparently we humans have a limit as to how much self-control we can inflict on ourselves.
Car pool: with petrol prices rising it makes sense to start a car pool either for work or for kids school lifts
Smallest to biggest: cut up those store cards, you never “need” them. Then start by paying off the smallest debt, it will give you a quick sense of accomplishment and the extra cash to start paying off the next smallest debt
Think out the box: Live is about living, not existing so don’t stop having fun, just be creative about it. Dreaming about that little sports car? Rather than getting into serious debt, hire one for a weekend – that is about how long you would enjoy a new car anyway before the reality of the repayments hit you.
Change your friends: if you are mixing with people who measure their value by the “stuff” they own, find different friends. Chances are the “stuff” is all bought on credit and they will soon be borrowing money from you.
Start a stockvel: Once you have found the right kind of friends, start a savings club. There is nothing like peer pressure to keep you saving for a goal
Be grateful: Most importantly focus on what you have, not what you “can’t afford”. Remember there are at least about two-billion people worse off than you.
First published in City Press.