By Greta Goosen, Head of Customer Experience at MiWay Insurance

Happy 20TwentyFree SA! This year is all about freedom – celebrating and enjoying the freedom to be savvy your way. With the Summer holidays a thing of the past, January presents a new year and opportunity to take stock of the festive times during December. From overgenerous gifts to embellished get-togethers, we all tend to let go of the reins a little as the festive spirit takes hold.

But even if you set yourself back a little with the odd festive splurge, you can get yourself back on track in no time by simply implementing a few simple money savvy tricks. By making small yet sensible adjustments to your budget and trading bad financial habits for healthy ones, you can make 20TwentyFree the year you achieve financial freedom.

Here are some easy tips to get you started:

Quit the Long Goodbyes to Debt
If you’re currently paying off a car, a house or a loan, it’s important to settle your debt as soon as possible. While this might mean spending a little more in the short-term, the amount you’ll save in the long run by avoiding unnecessary interest payments will more than justify the extra expense. So if you’re in a financial position to do so, allocate more than just the minimum monthly instalment so you can make your ‘goodbye to debt’ a quick one.

Greta Goosen: Head of Customer Experience at MiWay Insurance

Own your goals to the very end (of the year)
The key to saving lies in preparation, so draw up your own list of realistic financial goals. Start by reviewing your spending habits over the last twelve months, identifying any problematic overspending and areas in which you could potentially cut to improve your financial status. Try to map out your year, making provision for months in which you might want to or need to spend a little more, with a defined end-of-year saving goal.

Of course, sticking to this plan is a lot easier said than done, so make sure to review your list of goals on a monthly basis or when your financial status changes. Also, be willing to amend your spend should you end up going over your pre-defined limit.

If you’re finding it difficult to stick within your budget, there are a number of free smartphone apps now available designed to make saving easier and to help you keep your financial resolutions top of mind. If you haven’t already, try your banking app. These apps can be especially useful for those who tend to give into temptation, as they enable you to consult your financial goals in real time before swiping that credit card unnecessarily. 

Remind Yourself, Cash is Still King
Thanks to an abundance of credit and ‘no deposit’ deals currently available, it can be easy to fall into the trap of buying something you can’t really afford. But remember that every cent you borrow will need to be paid back, along with a hefty helping of interest, which will only end up pushing you further into a debt spiral from which it can be difficult to escape. As such, it’s best to employ a cash-only policy where possible, drawing out your weekly budget from the ATM so as to impede unnecessary spending. This will help you to avoid impulse purchases and frivolous swiping, and force you to stick to your defined budget in a more tangible and concrete way.

Share the load
Carpooling not only enables you to significantly save on fuel, but also offers up a reprieve from the stress caused by long stints in traffic, whilst at the same time reducing your carbon footprint. By sharing your ride to work with colleagues or friends, you can also keep wear and tear on your vehicle to a minimum, and perhaps even turn that tedious trip to work into an enjoyable and positive experience. Not only does carpooling afford you the chance to save a few Randelas, but it also offers up countless other health and social benefits.

Unleash your inner chef
Spending time in the kitchen after a long day at work isn’t always the most appetising prospect, but it can have a significant impact on your monthly budget. Whilst it can be tempting to dine out, quickly pull-up to your favourite drive-thru on your way home or order in when stress levels are high, remember that these expenses can quickly add up and undermine your savings plans. So rather than leaving dinner to the last minute, try to plan out your menu ahead of time, purchasing all the necessary ingredients in one weekly shopping excursion so as to minimise temptations and take the stress out of menu planning. That way, you’ll hold yourself accountable and might even have a whole lot of fun in the process.

Leave your shopping for month-end
Many retailers attempt to capitalise on pay-day by saving their special offers for month-end when consumers are typically more inclined to spend. So if you’ve got your eye on something, you’d be well advised to exercise patience and look out for any potential discounts, which tend to arrive during the last week of the month. If you’re looking to restock your wardrobe, thinking ahead could save you plenty in the long run. By taking advantage of end-of-season sales, even whilst it might seem counterintuitive at the time, you’ll be able to keep your spend down and planned without sacrificing on retail therapy. 

Look for Savings Opportunities
Little savings can make a big difference in the long run, so it’s worth looking at ways to reduce your monthly expenditure. Your insurance policy is a great place to start. Remember that your monthly premiums are based on your individual risk profile, so if you’ve moved house, changed jobs or bought a new car in the last year, you might be eligible for a reduced premium. You’d also be well advised to shop around, requesting quotes from other insurers who could potentially offer you a more comprehensive deal.

It might also be possible to bundle your house and car insurance and get the freedom of saving on monthly repayments without compromising your cover.

While January is typically a difficult month for many, it’s also the perfect time to set some financial resolutions that could prove invaluable in the long run. With a little planning and patience, you can take some serious strides towards achieving your 20TwentyFree financial goals and spend more money on the things that matter to you.

MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970). MiWay Insurance Limited (‘MiWay’) is a direct licensed insurer and a financial services company, offering customers a range of non-life insurance products (formerly known as ‘short-term” insurance) including motor, household, homeowners, business insurance as well as liability cover.

Submitted by Black Book PR & Communications