6 ways for families to ease the financial pressure

Already pinching your pennies to get through the month? You can reduce your spending even more with these cost-cutting tips you may not have considered. By Belinda Mountain

The petrol price will be going up again this week. And with it, the price of food. And public transport. It seems that we’re being squeezed financially in every aspect of our lives, and this is even more stressful if you’re the breadwinner and have a large family to provide for. So how do you try and cut costs?

Drawing up a budget and sticking to it is the most important way to do this, but what are some new ways to try and reduce your spending? We’ve rounded up six cost-cutting tips you may not have considered.

Eat less meat

There’s no denying that meat is expensive. If you can use less of it in your sandwiches and salads at lunch time, and not eat it with every main meal at night, you’ll not only slash your grocery bill, you’ll also be kinder to the planet. Of course, there’s also the health bonus of eating more veggies. And, if you think vegetables are boring, you just haven’t used the right ingredients and recipes! Try cooking up a cauliflower curry, assemble some kidney bean tacos, or make crunchy baked mushrooms for the whole family.

ALSO SEE: 5 budget dinner solutions to help you stretch your rands

Look at your electricity usage

Are you an energy wasting culprit? Do you leave lights on when you exit a room? Hold a family meeting and set up some energy-saving challenges. Encourage your kids to switch off the lights when they leave a room, and to rewear items of clothing that aren’t that dirty so you save on electricity by not running the washing machine unnecessarily. You could also look at alternative heat sources for the winter as this is when the electricity bill really tends to skyrocket. Using a log fire or gas heater instead of an oil heater, for example, can be a cheaper way of staying warm.

Get collaborative with school lifts

Are you driving both kids to school yourself each morning and picking them up in the afternoon, too? Get a class list and try find out who lives close to you. You can then carpool with a trusted neighbour so you can save your family (and their family) money on petrol by sharing lifts – not to mention saving a lot of time spent in traffic, too.

Look at your insurance and medical aid costs

When last did you do a comparative quote on your house or car insurance? Commit just 15 minutes to online research and see how similar offers in the market compare, and then approach your provider about reducing your premiums. When it comes to medical aid, some providers like Fedhealth offer you savings of 11% on your monthly premiums if you commit to using network hospitals, or 25% off if you agree to pay a fixed excess of R11 500 on all planned hospital procedures.

Focus on your health

Healthy people get sick less often, which means lower medical bills. So, it makes financial sense to invest in your health in this way. Make your own lunches for the family, don’t splurge on expensive and unhealthy takeaways and reduce your intake of sugar (so you aren’t hit by the sugar tax). Try and reduce smoking and alcohol too, as you’ll pay sin taxes on that. Instead, replace those unhealthy habits with something much more beneficial like exercise, which is free!

ALSO SEE: 8 make-ahead lunches and breakfasts for busy moms

Learn to say no

Probably the most difficult one, as it’s accompanied by societal pressure, is learning to say no to things you can’t afford. Instead of meeting your sister for dinner at a restaurant, do pot luck at your home. Instead of buying that new pair of trainers to impress your buddies, give your old ones a good wash, or buy some new laces. And, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t accept new credit cards or buy a car you can’t afford, or go on holidays that you’ll never be able to pay off.

Saving money in a family is completely doable if you take small, simple steps each day. Make it a habit to be cost conscious in the small parts of your daily life, and you’ll see the larger benefits to your financial situation over time. So, simplify your life, be realistic about what you can afford, and you’ll find the clouds start clearing from your current financial storm.

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