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5 Budgeting strategies that make money management fun

Managing your money can be a tedious task, but there are ways to make it fun. We have a look at the strategies that can make budgeting an event to look forward to.

09 March 2022Emma Edwards 3 min read
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Don’t forget about your credit score

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Staying on track with your budget can be tough, and sometimes life gets in the way. Perhaps you’re looking for new ways to manage your money that keep things interesting while helping you save more. We have a look at five savings strategies that will add a little spice to your budgeting routine.

Budget cycling, or financial fasting, is perfect for those who love going all-in on their savings but prefer doing so sporadically rather than consistently. This method involves maintaining a set monthly budget but having the freedom to mix it up from week to week.

For example, let’s say you want to save R1,000 per month. Instead of saving exactly R250 every week, you could start with a very frugal week where you stash R500 away. During this week, you will have little social plans, do meal prep, and bring your frugal A-game.

But this discipline will be rewarded! You will only have to save R166 per week for the remaining three weeks, leaving you with an extra R84 per week to spend on anything you choose.

The "no spend week” requires less planning, and it works well as a reactionary tactic when you’ve overspent and need to rebalance your accounts.

Simply choose a week, cancel your plans, and commit to no discretionary spending. Not only can you cancel out overspending from earlier in the month, but it also helps to break bad habits and hit reset on your spending.

However, if you make use of this method, be careful not to return to superfluous spending the week thereafter, deeming your effort null and void.

The “no spend week” is an emergency strategy that’s used to correct a moment of weakness, such as when you couldn’t resist buying that new iPhone or tickets to a once-in-a-lifetime Ed Sheeran concert. It’s not meant to facilitate ongoing overspending.

The “match it challenge” helps those who are prone to mindless splurging when they’re trying to save money. Every time you want to make a non-essential purchase, wait until you’ve saved the full amount, and then match it and place the excess in your savings on the same day you make your purchase.

If you’re buying an item of clothing for R150, you’d save up R300 in total, and then split the amount 50/50 between the purchase and your savings account. Doing this will ensure that you get to enjoy your purchase while saving for your future.

This method allows you to have your cake and eat it. It teaches you to practice serious discipline, and it ensures delayed gratification, making your purchase even sweeter. On top of this, it gives you extra time to ponder on your purchase and make sure it’s what you truly want. Who knows, you may even come across a next-gen model that’s better priced or find a different gadget that can do the job better.

Percentage budgeting when you divide your income between your savings, wants, and needs. All you need to do is set your percentages for each of these categories and direct your income to the right accounts in line with your allocations.

For example, using the 50/30/20 budget rule is a great place to start. Here, you allocate 50% of your income to your needs, 30% to your wants, and 20% to your savings.

The final category here is the most important one, and this money can also be used to pay additional amounts towards settling your debt. Paying more than the minimum required amount can also have a positive impact on your credit score because it will reduce your credit utilization.

You can log in to ClearScore and find out which accounts you have open, and how much each of these contribute towards your credit utilisation. If it's over 30%, try to reduce this to improve your score.

Percentage budgeting is particularly useful when you’re managing a fluctuating income. For example, if you’re self-employed you may receive varying incomes from each of your clients. One month you may earn R10,000 and the next month you may earn R15,000. By applying percentage budgeting, you will guarantee that you save a fair and proportionate amount of your income.

In some cases, when your income goes up, your spending follows suit while your savings are left behind. When you apply percentage budgeting your needs, wants, and savings all benefit at the same rate.

If you struggle to send money to your savings account, try gamifying the process. You can do this by treating yourself as a hero in your own fantasy world who has to achieve certain goals, which are allocated points in the form of money that’s paid into your savings account.

Set yourself goals, such as going to the gym or reading a set number of pages, and assign a rand value to the completion of each activity. Every time you do it, pay yourself for your achievement. This will help you get into a rhythm of gradual savings, and it may even motivate you to work harder on your goals.

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Written by Emma Edwards

Financial Writer

Emma wants to help you build a life you love within your means, and teach you how to optimise your finances to ensure you’re stashing cash for the future.