Making ends meet: 7 ways you can stretch your salary



With salaries staying stagnant or increasing minimally coupled with rising inflation, fuel and food costs going up and interest rates hikes, it is more important than ever to be a smart consumer and savvy spender.

“Looking after your money and your future is not difficult. But you need to plan and stick to that plan, says Craig Newborn, CEO of PayJustNow.

We asked two financial experts to advise us on how to stretch our salaries. Newborn offers us the first four tips and Investment manager at Luthuli Capital, Mduduzi Luthuli offers the last three.

1. Improve your financial literacy

You can get financially educated with online courses plus banks and other financial institutions offer financial literacy courses. These course can teach consumers about topics such as how to work with their money, investing and saving for retirement

2. Stick to your budget

Draw up a budget plan that takes into account both your current and future income and expenses. A budget will help keep your spending in check and ensure that you have a healthy amount of savings.

If you are unsure about creating your own budget there are many online templates available to help you get started.

Remember, having a budget is the first step but you also have to stick to it.

3. Look for alternative finance options

With high interest rates, you may be paying way more than the asking price on a particular item.

Therefore, it is important that you look at other alternatives to credit, such as Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) products. With BNPL products, you can still make purchases but without credit interest. BNPL allows you to still make the big purchase up front but pay it off over a set period interest free.

Newborn said, “You need to make sure you’re choosing a provider that aligns well with your salary dates. In South Africa, the majority of our salaries are paid monthly, so it makes sense to opt for a monthly instalment model.”

4. Do your shopping research

Make sure you know prices, look out for specials, and buy in bulk if possible. Be informed about loyalty and rewards programmes as well as check out the online options offered by retailers, you might save money with the online discounts and on petrol.

5. Spending barriers

Mduduzi Luthuli said the easiest way to make your salary last longer is to make it harder to waste it. According to the financial expert, you can achieve this by creating spending barriers.

“Spending barriers act as nudges for improving your financial behaviour and thus are easy to implement and sustain. A ‘nudge’ is a small aid that leads people to adopt a desired behaviour. The underlying idea is that small cues or changes in our environment can have a major impact on our choices and behaviour,” he said.

6. Create a cash diet

The cash diet concept is fairly simple, instead of using credit cards or payment apps to make purchases, use cash, said Luthuli.

Swiping your debit or credit card is easy; it can also feel like you’re not spending your own money, as you physically cannot see what you are spending.

“There are studies that suggest that people can spend up to 83 percent more when they use a card rather than cash. With cash, you physically have to take it out of your purse or wallet and hand it over to the cashier.”

7. Be mindful of digital transactions

Some purchases necessitate the use of digital transactions over cash, such as online shopping. This is fine, as long as you remain mindful of those expenses, and track them like you would a cash transaction.

Luthuli said: “It’s easy in our digital world to get caught up in swiping the card and not even realise what you’re spending. Even with a budget, there can be a disconnect between seeing the numbers on a spreadsheet getting smaller versus watching the actual cash disappear.”

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