How those living on minimum wage or low income can save

by | Dec 1, 2020 | Personal Finance

Very often we think about saving, in very literal terms. We think about physically saving money in a jar or in a bank account. This way of thinking leads us to (rightfully) say “I don’t even have enough for necessities, how am I supposed to save?”

It is here, where “life hacks” come in. You can change your lifestyle and save money.

  • If you have a bank account – revisit your banking fee and banking bundle structure. Are you using the services you are paying for? If not, exclude them from your bundle and downgrade to a cheaper banking fee structure. Do not forget to include your banking fees into your budget. Failing to do this is often why people run short at the end of the month.
  • Review your insurances – especially life insurance entered into on your retail accounts. When you initially open your accounts, you are offered life insurance at a small fee. Many people automatically take this up, but if you end up having 9 retail accounts with life insurance attached, in addition to your life insurance policies – you can find yourself spending a small fortune on duplicated benefits and pay-outs.
  • Whether you are renting or paying a bond – lowering your electricity consumption will always save you money.
    Switch off your geyser. By leaving your geyser on for the entire day, can add up to between 30 and 40% to your monthly electricity bill. Put a timer on your geyser or physically switch it off in the morning and put it back on in the evening. At a saving of R10 per day, this adds up to R300/month and R3600/year.
  • Change your lightbulbs to energy saving bulbs: Low energy bulbs use up to 80% less electricity than standard bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
  • Unplug your appliances. This does not come from an old wives tale. Even when they’re turned off, appliances in stand by mode can draw electricity. This can amount to between 10% and 20% of your electricity bill.
  • Buy generic and store-branded products – from food to pharmaceuticals, you will barely notice the difference and there will be a definite saving.
  • Make up your school and work lunches at home and cut down on buying fizzy drinks and juices at work. Going without these drinks is good for your health and it also saves you money.
    R10 per day for a can of cooldrink, multiplied by 20 working days adds up to R200/month. This can be turned into a literal saving of R2400 for the year – or that R200/ month could be better spent on electricity or transport.
  • Visit your child’s school and enquire about a school fee exemption. You can apply for an exemption of school fees throughout the school year, not only at the beginning of the year.
  • Scout around amongst the different networks for the best call and data deals. Change networks if need be. We spend an enormous amount of time on our phones and the internet. If you can get a social bundle from one network For R15/ m as opposed to the same social bundle for R70/m on a different network, then why not switch? Every little bit helps.
  • Rather draw money at a tillpoint, than at an ATM. It is much cheaper. A difference of R50 on your bank balance, may be the difference between having money for transport on the last day of the month – or not


All of the above should be honestly factored into a monthly budget. We are in the midst of a recession. Planning, budgeting and being disciplined enough to stick to our budgets, is going to stand us in good stead in these tough financial times.

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