You’re tired of renting and have decided to buy your own property – but the bank wants 20% upfront. What do you do? Track your expenses Firstly, start tracking your expenses. Write down every rand you spend (or find handy software online). This will not only point out all your unnecessary expenses, but will also help you to compile a realistic budget. If you don’t know what you’re spending your money on, you won’t know where you can start cutting. Once you have a proper picture of where your money disappears to every month, find ways to avoid unnecessary expenses and cut down on existing ones. If you are currently renting, you might consider moving somewhere cheaper (however, moving around too much can influence your credit rating) or even move back to your parents’ house. Maybe one of your friends wants to sublet? This can lower your monthly expense. Consider other monthly expenses – can you cancel that gym contract you never use? Pay bills on time, as you will save interest. Pay off as much credit as possible before taking on a home loan. Shop around for cheaper insurance, or bank accounts with cheaper charges. (Note that it may be unwise to change your primary bank account, as this can negatively influence your credit record.) If you are using a credit card, shop around to see if you can’t find one with lower interest rates or higher loyalty awards elsewhere. Cut back on luxuries – eat in rather than out, take short showers rather than long baths, say goodbye to the satellite television service, take lunch to work – the list of possible cutbacks is endless. Compile a budget Try to keep it simple, as this will improve your chances of successfully sticking to your budget. Set a fixed amount you can spend on socialising per week, food, cellphone, etc., and a similar fixed amount for what you can spend monthly on clothes. Save on petrol or transport costs by walking as much as possible, and drive and maintain your car properly. Always ensure your tax affairs are in order – not only will you save on fines, but you will often get money back when overpaying tax during the course of the year. Save regularly Get in the habit of putting away money every month, even if it is only small amounts. Find the best interest deal, and do not touch this money, no matter how big the temptation is! If you have little discipline when it comes to money, put in a fixed-term account, which will force you to give for example 30 days’ notice before you are allowed to withdraw money. Watch out for accounts that carry penalties for withdrawals, or where the monthly bank charges will be higher than the interest you earn. Set yourself a target – how much do you want to save in the next six months? If you stick to your budget, give yourself a small reward (buy something beautiful for your soon-to-have new home perhaps?) to keep you motivated. Clean out the clutter If you haven’t touched your bicycle or fancy guitar in three years, it may be time to get rid of it. Sell unwanted items on eBay or Gumtree, and put the money in your savings account. Similarly, if you want to buy a big-ticket item, shop around for second-hand stuff and save some money. Get an extra job If there is no prospect of a decent pay rise or a new, better-paying job elsewhere, start looking for additional part-time work you can do over the weekend or after hours. This can do wonders for your savings plan, but ensure that the extra work will not interfere or cause a conflict of interest with your current job.
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