Last week we talked about shopping around to save money on the things that you buy. I suggested three things – buying in bulk abroad, getting products where they are cheapest instead of just going to your favourite shop and taking advantage of discount days at Game and other stores.
This week we’re going to think about things you can live without completely. You get so used to buying what you buy that you never actually stop to think whether it’s that necessary. To help you think through your own shopping list I’ll go through some things me and my friends have cut back on:
You could live in a cheaper area and save thousands immediately. Of course, many of us are unwilling to compromise here so we have to look at the small stuff.
For what you get, it’s not cheap at all. I was having a chat with one of my best friends about cutting back and she said, “Can you believe it, we’ve even had to stop buying juice!”
I was like, “You were still buying juice? I stopped buying juice ages ago and I live in England where it’s much cheaper!” It is cheaper but I still find it to be poor value for money and completely unnecessary for the weight conscious. Juice packs in a lot more calories than one might suspect.
I spend A LOT of money on eating out every month. I find it very hard to cut back because I think of it as a “treat” after a week of hard work. However, right now my husband and I have just spent a small fortune extending our house to create a new room and shower room so we decided to stop eating out completely for a couple of months.
To stick to our resolve we’ve added treat foods to our shopping list to encourage us to eat at home. For example, buying a frozen pizza that you just stick in the oven when you feel lazy is a lot cheaper than going out for pizza. We wouldn’t normally buy this type of food because it’s not healthy but it does the job of keeping us at home when we want to eat out.
News flash: you don’t have to eat meat every day! Some people in town would think this is unthinkable and perhaps an utterly ridiculous suggestion but it’s true. Husbands will especially be against such a suggestion, however, desperate times call for desperate measures.
You can also cut back by eating less meat. For instance, unless it’s a very small chicken I only ever eat one chicken part, I find two to be excessive. If everyone in your home has two pieces your chicken will immediately last twice as long by enforcing the one-piece rule. The same goes for sausages and other meats. I normally cook minced meat with beans to bulk it up. Less meat means a heavier wallet and a more attractive waist line!
You could go for offal as well. We have started to eat liver and tongue. This has the same taste as meat, is cheaper, and also the best source of iron out there.
This is one thing I would never buy in shoprite or game. It’s usually too pricey unless it’s on offer. The small Indian shops, e.g. Rajani’s in Blantyre can usually give you a better price.
You don’t really need it. Soap is a lot cheaper and it still does the job. Personally, I still use body wash but I generally buy what is cheapest on the shelf. I don’t ever stick to one brand when it comes to body wash.
Next week, we’ll have a long chat about cutting back on that most expensive asset, children!
“Cut back on your rent or cut back on what you spend on food but never worry about investing money in a good book.” Robin S. Sharma
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.