10 Ways to make your emergency funds last longer

emergency fund last longer
Make your emergency funds last longer

Whether you’ve lost your job or have to live off of one salary until your spouse finds work, these 10 ways to make your savings last longer will buy you time and make it easier for you to get back on your feet.

#1) Reduce your housing costs

Rental and bond costs are likely to be your highest monthly expense. If you manage to reduce these by even 20%, you’re certainly going to make your savings stretch much further. If you’re living in an expensive area or in a big unit, consider scaling down to save. It may cost you a bit to move but the savings over the course of the next few months will be worth it.

If you’ve been paying off your bond steadily over a long period of time, consider calling your bond provider and asking them to offer you a reduced monthly repayment (via a refinance) or a payment holiday. Remember though that extending your home loan term means you will pay significantly more in terms of interest in the long run.

#2) Cancel subscriptions and contracts

Whether it’s your Virgin Active account, your Discovery Vitality membership or a media and telecommunications contract you are just not making use of, cancelling a handful of subscriptions and contracts can save you thousands of Rands each month.

Be careful though, almost all contracts come with an early cancellation penalty, some of which make cancelling not worth the trouble. Make sure you’re aware of any penalty fees you may be charged for early cancellation and weigh these up carefully.

#3) Save on electricity, water and sewer bills

With electricity prices soaring on a continuous basis it makes sense to make an effort and save on these costly monthly expenses. Whether you simply switch off everything you’re not using or implement green habits around the house, you could save hundreds every month. Try installing a timer on your geyser, reducing its temperature in the summer and make sure you limit usage on high-usage appliances.

When it comes to water, take showers rather than baths, change to a green shower-head and make sure you’re conscious of water consumption or watering your garden, filling your swimming pool, and when doing your washing.

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#4) Avoid outings and luxury items

Many of us have become so accustomed to going out and buying luxury items whenever we want, we forget to stop these costly habits when it matters most. If you’re used to trips to the salon, expensive restaurants, and monthly trips to the mall for some retail therapy, it’s time to change your outlook and make sure you keep those extra bucks in your savings account.

While it may seem like a very difficult habit to break, you can try to start by cutting out one or two of your most expensive monthly outings and setting a budget for luxury items. Remember, it’s always best to make small changes that you can stick to rather than make shocking unsustainable changes that you’ll never be able to maintain.

#5) Stop buying takeaway food and coffee

When you’ve become accustomed to takeaway meals and coffees, you’ll be shocked to see just what a difference cutting these unnecessary costs out will make. Brewing a fresh cup of coffee at home will be cheaper while cooking at home and packing your own lunch will also help your stretch every rand while also being considerably healthier.

If you can’t stand cooking consider purchasing healthy ready-made meals from small local companies, many of whom will offer you great savings and specials if you purchase a full month’s supply of meals.

#6) Save on petrol and vehicle maintenance costs

For many people who commute to work and back, fuel and car maintenance is major expense. Consider joining a carpooling service or placing an advert on your local social media platforms to find someone or a group of people that work and live in the same area as you.

This will save you hundreds on petrol costs but will also reduce your vehicle maintenance and insurance costs significantly. Remember to call your car insurance company to update them if you’re no longer driving to work and back or have moved as you may just save on your monthly premium.

#7) Consider refinancing loans

Whether you have a bond and a vehicle loan or a bond and a personal loan, if you want to make your emergency finance last longer, reducing your monthly instalments on one or all of these credit products will help you stretch your money further.

You can start by calling the bank or your finance provider and informing them of your financial situation. They could offer you a lower monthly instalment or, if you’ve had a perfect repayment history, reduce your interest to help you cut costs. If you’re paying off your credit cards, call the bank and ask for a reduction in interest too.

#8) Buy food in bulk and take advantage of special offers

Buying food in bulk can make a huge difference to your pocket while special offers like three-for-two, will help you get more for less. Whether you’re alone or have a big family, buying in bulk on items you use a lot of is a great idea. This also applies to household cleaning items and other consumables.

You can also make use of royalty cards to get cash backs and more savings. For instance, Shell has a great V+ royalty program that lets you earn points each time you fill up and use these points to pay for petrol later. Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths also offer great savings for those who hold a loyalty card.

#9) Plan meals and avoid wastage

We all try an avoid wastage as far as possible but those impulsive buys and special offers may have us buying a lot more than we really need. This leads to a ton of wastage and unnecessary expenses. To avoid this consider meal planning for a week or two in advance and freezing leftovers for later consumption.

When shopping try to use a list and avoid deviating from it unless you find great in-store offers or make replacements as you shop. You should also try to plan your shopping out in advance rather than just popping into the store as you find you’ve run out of things at home.

#10) Keep your money in an interest-bearing savings account

Keeping all your emergency savings in your everyday savings or checking account isn’t the greatest idea as you’re not benefiting from this money at all. Try moving your money into an interest-bearing savings account that you can easily access from your online banking profile. This gives you a little bit of extra cash and, in some cases may help you completely cover your banking fees.

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