Four ways to make your money go further in these tough financial times

Craig Newborn, CEO of PayJustNow, gives advice on to how make your money go a little further in these tough economic times.

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JOHANNESBURG – South African consumers have taken the knock-on effect on their incomes due to the steep price increases that have had a negative impact on millions of families and their quality of life.

The July price increase has now tipped the cost of fuel to over R25 per litre.

As of midnight, the price of petrol has since gone up by between R2.37c and R2.57c, while the price of diesel has increased by at least R2.30c.

READ: As new fuel prices kick in, struggling motorists worry about impact on pocket s

Soaring fuel and cooking oil prices have pushed the annual consumer price (CPI) inflation to a five-year high of 6.5% in May.

According to the recent Consumer Confidence Index report over the past few months, it has become increasingly more expensive to buy food and other essentials, reducing confidence ever more among consumers to a low of -25.

"In these tough financial times, it is more important than ever to be a smart consumer and a savvy spender. While salaries are stagnant or increasing minimally, inflation is rising, fuel and food cost more every month and interest rates are whacking your big-item repayments.

"However, if you want to make the most of your money and use it to advance your life, there are a few simple but effective tools you can use," said Craig Newborn, CEO of PayJustNow.

But how can consumers do better to cope during these tough times?

READ MORE: How to beat the high cost of living in South Africa

“Many households are feeling the pinch to pay for basic services. While we might not have a clear indication of when things might stabilise, the ability for your income to show tensile during this time is in applying financial tools for the savvy spender to navigate their monthly budgets," said Newborn.

The CEO of PayJustNow offered four ideas which he said would help all consumers manage and preserve their money more effectively.

“Looking after your money and your future is not difficult. But you need to plan and stick to that plan,” said Newborn.

EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT FINANCE AND MONEY

There are many online courses on offer as well as banks or financial institutions that run financial literacy courses. These courses teach consumers how to work with their money, they give advice on investing, saving for retirement, navigating the South African tax system and wealth creation.

BUDGET AND STICK TO IT

Taking the time to sit and work out a budget for yourself is a worthwhile exercise. A budget is simply a spending plan that takes into account both your current and future income and expenses. Having a budget keeps your spending in check and makes sure your savings are on track for the future.

"There are many online templates to copy if you are not sure how to draw up a budget. Also, you need to stick to that budget, otherwise, it’s a waste of time," said Newborn.

LOOK FOR INNOVATIVE OPTIONS

Rising interest rates are deadly for credit card purchases, in fact, most personal finance experts reckon that if you can’t pay off your full outstanding credit card bill every month, you should not have one. With credit cards, you are paying way more than the asking price on a particular item.

Newborn said if you look at options that offer alternatives to credit, such as buy now pay later products, you can still make purchases but without credit interest. If you are a committed saver, then it makes sense to save up for a big purchase and pay cash, but BNPL products allow you to still make the big purchase up front but pay it off over a set period of interest and fee-free so that your monthly disposable income goes further, and you can continue to make those deposits into your savings accounts.

"These products allow you to manage your cash flow much better, but you need to make sure you’re choosing a provider that aligns well with your salary dates. A lot of BNPL providers offer models that have worked well for markets like the US, where instalments dates are aligned to salaries typically paid every two weeks. In South Africa, the majority of our salaries are paid monthly, so it makes sense to opt for a monthly instalment model."

SHOP AROUND

While fuel prices don’t vary from filling station to filling station, consumables, like groceries, do. Make sure you know your prices, look out for specials and buy in bulk if you can. Form a collective with friends or family and split your bulk buying power. This way fresh products won’t get wasted and you’ll save on petrol.

The CEO of PayJustNow reminds us that as a consumer, you have the power to buy where you get the best deals and quality, use that power.

"By taking some of these simple ideas on board, you’ll be in a position to save spare cash. Save as much as you can, even if you start off with as little as R20 per month," said Newborn.