How to tighten your belt in tough times

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Elzita Beukes

Windhoek-“In this sagging economy, we need to micro-manage our money on a personal level and watch every cent. This is not only applicable to the population in general but as we have seen – even government has tightened their belts in these tough times,” says Elzita Beukes, communications manager at FNB Namibia.

Save without a budget

Many people find that creating and sticking to a budget is an easy and extremely effective way to manage their money. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn’t work for everyone. For some people budgeting is not only tedious, it’s also futile. That’s because many consumers simply end up breaking their budget time and again.
If you have difficulty adhering to a budget, strange as it may sound, financial experts say you should simply avoid budgeting altogether.

Alternatively, as soon as you receive your salary, you should deposit a set amount of money into a savings account or another account you can’t easily access, like the 32-Day Interest Plus Account – designed to be flexible with a minimum opening balance of N$100.

Then designate the remaining portion of your salary to living expenses and other purchases. As long as you don’t have that extra money in your wallet, you’ll spend less each month. You’ll quickly realise it is possible to save and live off fewer dollars, even without a budget.

Know when not to shop

If you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired as you stroll up to the door of a store, HALT! Why? Because if you’re in any of these four states, you should avoid shopping.
The acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) is commonly used in substance abuse programmes. The same rule applies for every day consumers. If you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you are more likely to overspend in the store. Instead of going on a shopping spree, try to deal directly with whatever is causing you to feel this way.

Put an end to buyer’s remorse

Have you ever bought an expensive piece of exercise equipment you used only once before stashing it in the garage? We’re all guilty of it. At some time or another, we’ve all convinced ourselves in a weak moment that we absolutely had to have an item — only to suffer from severe buyer’s remorse later.

Instead of agonising over your silly, spontaneous purchases, financial experts say you should try to learn from your mistakes. Sit down with your family and do an “audit” of all the hare-brained purchases you’ve made during the past year.

Dig out your receipts, bank statements and credit card bills and point out all the things you bought that you wish you hadn’t. You might start to notice some patterns, such as every time you visit a certain store, you end up buying something don’t need. This process can help you avoid poor purchase choices in the future and put an end buyer’s remorse.

Take a spending break

When was the last time you went an entire day without spending a dime? If you can’t recall, it might be time for a monetary fast. Experts say it’s financially healthy to take a few days off from spending money every so often.

Although it might be difficult to keep your wallet on lock-down for two or three days, it could be well worth the effort. The truth is most of us could put more money away to help us through tough times or to prepare for our key financial goals.

It is easy to say we can’t afford to save anymore, because keeping up with day-to-day living expenses is as much as we can handle. But if you look hard enough, you just might find ways to do it.

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