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17 ways I live leaner



I don’t talk about myself too often on this blog and that’s because I don’t want it to be about me. But you may know that I quit corporate a year ago and while I’ve always considered myself to be frugal, it’s challenged me to think even more about how I spend money and still enjoy life.

I really haven’t made any drastic lifestyle changes (I still like nice things/experiences ok!? 🙂 ) but I spend a lot more consciously than I did before… So besides having no overdraft, credit card, store card & car repayment debt, here’s what I do…


We all need to eat. So the 1st couple of points are around the subject of food.

  1. Plan well. I used to find myself in the grocery store every day. And when I was standing in the queue cursing myself I’d ask myself what I needed today that I couldn’t possibly buy yesterday. It’s a waste of time, energy, petrol and parking fees. Keeping a list on my phone ensures I don’t forget anything.
  2. Eat out less. I have a lot of work to do on this one but in our house it’s the #1 way we can cut down our monthly expenses.
  3. If you are going to eat out, find out when your favourite restaurant has specials/deals & make date night on that night of the week when they do half price sushi/cocktails etc.
  4. Tied into above, buy less convenience foods. You know, the stuff that you can just pop into the oven. It is convenient and we all need them some days, but it can’t be everyday…
  5. Pack lunches.  Make a little extra dinner a few times a week. Pack meal size portions into Tupperware & freeze immediately. Defrost overnight for a tasty & fresh lunch the next day.
  6. Check expiry dates on food. Supermarkets are sneaky and pack the stuff going off sooner right in front. I’m that girl rummaging all the way to the back of the fridge for the salad that has at least 3 of 4 days to go.


Ok enough about food…

  1. Get loyalty cards for the places you frequent. If they don’t have, one ask them why. I was pleasantly surprised when a few weeks after me asking, one of my favourite coffee shops started their loyalty card.
  2. Relook your insurance cover. At the start of this year my insurance company sent a letter saying that our premium (household and cars combined) was going up 8%. I pushed back, it went to their retentions dept and we ended up on almost R300 pm less than our 2012 premium. That’s a R3600 saving a year!
  3. Dig out all those old gift cards. I know you have some lying around somewhere. If they’ve expired, try going into the store and chatting to the manager to get them to extend it. I got married almost 2 years ago and still had some gift vouchers we just haven’t gotten to. I tried my luck and 3 of the 4 stores helped. Then be sure to carry them in your purse so that you don’t forget about them again!
  4. Are you on the correct cell phone package? I cancelled a R450/month contract and now spend about R150 a month prepaid. Also, I researched what my preferred network’s lowest plan was & switched to that. I don’t use my phone unconsciously anymore. I WhatsApp/BBM my friends instead of SMS-ing. Skype has saved us thousands and isn’t just for when you’re abroad.
  5. Eliminate excess. Be able to account for every single cent. Recently we discovered that 2 old cell phone contracts we’d taken out a few years ago were still coming off as debit orders! Some magazine subscriptions are the same, “automatically renewing” (both digital & print – check!). At one stage I was subscribed to 13 magazines – seriously, who has the time?
  6. Read your bank/credit card statements etc. even if you just scan them to make sure they make sense. I have picked up amounts being debited twice and even an extra zero slipping in!
  7. Hang onto till slips. I have a special box that I put all “guarantees” in i.e. for appliances and high ticket items that have a 1/2/3 year guarantee. I keep all other slips for at least a month. If those new shoes break or that cream makes me break out, trust me it’s going back. I used to feel bad about this but stores get their cash back from suppliers anyway.
  8. Vacation in off-peak season. Just as an example, if you read my blog, you’ll know that I love Cape Town. However Cape Town in December will not ever happen again in my lifetime if I can help it. If you don’t have kids, avoid school holidays too. Ditto for long weekends & public holidays. Demand will be high at those times which means prices will be stupid.
  9. I’m over “stuff” (in general). It’s taken years but I don’t yearn for new shoes. I love the 100+ pairs that I already have. We don’t have space for our apartment for anymore “things”.
  10. My values have changed. When I was in corporate and had a bad day, I’d “reward” myself with “stuff”. I still have a lot of this stuff, labels still attached I might add. They just don’t give me the pleasure they used to.
  11. Balance. Here I mean you need to weigh things up for your own personal circumstances of your unique family & lifestyle. So if your time is more of a scarcity than money for example it may actually make sense to pay a bit of a premium/outsource some things if you get to bank some time.

I honestly feel like being frugal is a bit addictive. I have heart palpitations when my husband books us movie tickets as a surprise & doesn’t use our loyalty cards to get a discount (I obviously have some work to do here…)

Any tips you can share? I’m all ears and always looking for new ideas on how to save time & money, so do spill!




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