Smart tips to help you make ends meet in these tough times

Consumers are now looking for different ways to stretch their rand to cope with price increases.

Consumers are now looking for different ways to stretch their rand to cope with price increases.

Published May 8, 2023


The cost of living in South Africa has seen an aggressive increase in recent years.

The pressure on consumers is immense, with the interest rate rising to levels last seen more than a decade ago and inflation also pushing up food prices, along with petrol price increases.

“As a result, some consumers may struggle to make ends meet, especially when one considers that Stats SA’s latest Consumer Price Index data indicates that food and fuel are the two biggest areas where people spend most of their money.

“The question is what considerations consumers can make to reduce their spending and make smart moves to make ends meet,” says Ester Ochse, product head at FNB integrated advice.

Ochse shared some smart tips to help you make ends meet:

Consider easy ways to help you budget

Look at your personal financial needs and wants, so that you can make informed decisions on where you put your money.

Budgeting is the cornerstone of making ends meet, as you get to decide where you are allocating your money and which expenses need to be covered from your income.

Prioritising needs over wants at this stage is very important. Having a copy of your bank statement, so that you can track where your money is going is also essential when reviewing your budget every month or two.

Make budgeting easy for you, and your family.

Make a list of your groceries and plan your meals

Grocery prices have increased aggressively in the past few months. Making a list of your groceries and when you will buy them is important so that you can avoid last-minute shopping or buying takeaways.

There are some smart moves that you can make to save some money:

Create a weekly or monthly menu using the items you have in the cupboard and supplement it with a few fresh items.

Make a list of food items you need; compare prices and deals from the different retail supermarkets, then stick to that list or shop online for your groceries and arrange for delivery.

Do monthly or weekly shopping to avoid unconscious spending.

If you prefer shopping for your groceries in-store, make sure you plan your trip and cover other errands.

When shopping in-store, keep a running tally on your phone calculator of the items in your trolley to avoid exceeding your grocery budget.

Don’t overdo buying in bulk, the money can potentially be better used for paying off short-term debt or saving for an emergency.

If you prefer buying bulk, consider joining or starting a grocery stokvel with family, friends or colleagues.


This is always a tough one.

We are dependent on fuel and have seen an increase in prices over the past few months. Here are a few money management tips to help your fuel costs:

Do your grocery shopping once a month and avoid regular trips to stores. This will also save you money on unconscious spending. Even better, get the groceries delivered to you, which will save fuel and money.

Service your car regularly and ensure that your car’s tyres are properly inflated.

Try to work from home if your company allows it and if you do need to go to work, try to carpool with some colleagues.

If you use public transport, consider using a bus and buying the monthly tickets to get to work. But if convenience means using a taxi, set aside the monthly fare from your income.

Get those loyalty reward programme cards

Different retailers such as fuel stations and supermarket chains offer different loyalty reward programmes. Some allow you to earn points that you can spend later, while others give you a discounted amount on certain items you purchase in-store or online.

Ensure that you leverage loyalty programmes as this can help you with groceries and fuel spend. Choose one or two loyalty programmes at most to maximise the benefits of the one that will benefit you over the long term, then use the programmes partners for “need spend” such as groceries and fuel. Think twice before taking out your bank card or cash.

Make sure you make payments where you will be rewarded for your spending.

Never resort to credit as an option to supplement your spending

While the right credit at the right time for the right reason can be a very powerful tool, we tend to see people resorting to having credit as a means of making ends meet or sustaining a lifestyle.

This is the biggest financial mistake. One should rather reduce spending than rely on credit to keep up a standard of living.

The consideration of having credit should be well thought through based on how it will help you build a good and healthy credit status for when you would like the bank to give you a home loan or finance your vehicle purchase.

If you are already struggling to free up your cash flow based on your budget, then ask yourself the honest question of whether you will really be able to pay up the monthly instalment. Don’t take up credit unnecessarily and prematurely in any life stage.

“A little goes a long way and it starts with applying the above-mentioned tips to help people avoid taking on unnecessary debt. As FNB, help is part of our DNA and walking the journey with our customers to make better money management decisions is what drives our efforts,” Ochse said.