South Africans often lament their apparent inability to save by citing affordability as the prime reason. Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)

South Africans often lament their apparent inability to save by citing affordability as the prime reason there is nothing left over at the end of each month to squirrel away for a rainy day. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

“Either you’ll find an excuse or you’ll find a way,” said Errol Meyer, Legal Specialist, Advisory Services at Standard Bank Financial Consultancy. “For the majority of people there is almost always a way to save something, even if you’re battling to make ends meet.”

Examining your spending habits and cutting out unnecessary expenditure on superfluous items or products is already a way to save. Taking advantage of discounts on essential items or reducing expenditure on luxuries is yet another way to save.

Meyer says saving does not necessarily have to mean investing in formalised financial products. 

If you find you don’t have enough money each month to meet the minimum requirement for a monthly contribution to a unit trust fund, then try to focus on cutting out needless expenditure as a way of building up a lump sum which you can invest at a later date. 

Here are his pointers for doing so:

Take advantage of sales and discounts: don’t buy something just because it’s on sale but if it’s a product that you regularly use or can’t really do without then look out for sales and make sure you buy as much as you can afford at that time.

Buy in bulk: buying items like toothpaste or toilet paper in bulk is almost always cheaper than buying these items individually. Seek out bulk discounts and try to buy before items before retailers institute their annual price increases.

Pay off debts: If you have R10,000 debt, for example, which you’re paying 17% interest (or R170) on each month, then by paying off your debt you are immediately saving the R170 you would’ve paid on this amount had you not settled your debt. Make paying off moneys owed a priority.

If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it: avoid falling into the trap of buying things you simply can’t afford. Resorting to credit to purchase items you can’t actually afford is one of the easiest ways of falling into the debt trap. Be honest with yourself and if you can’t afford it then don’t buy it.

Create a savings habit: A good rule of thumb is that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. Set yourself a personal 21-day savings challenge by trying to eliminate unnecessary expenditure over that three-week period. After this you’ll find it easier to continue saving going forward.

“A big part of saving simply boils down to being able to moderate your behaviour,” said Meyer. “Having the self-discipline to avoid needless expenditure is one of the most important values you can instil in yourself or your children. Speak to a financial consultant if you’re not sure where to start.” 

- Supplied by Standard Bank