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“How I saved up for what I wanted”

Saving may seem daunting, but making small changes can help you achieve your goals. Three South Africans share their saving strategies.

Nov 2, 2023 · Fiona Zerbst

“How I saved up for what I wanted”

We ask three South Africans how old-fashioned saving methods allowed them to achieve their goals and experience a sense of satisfaction.

Tip: Use this savings calculator to work out how long it will take you to reach your goals.

Small changes, big results

For David Gray, a 46-year-old accountant, the decision to start saving was born out of frustration with his financial situation.

“My salary was eaten up by monthly expenses and necessities and I found myself resenting the fact that I was working really hard but wasn’t being rewarded for it,” he says.

“My cousin in Canada decided to splurge on a destination wedding in Cancún, Mexico, but I knew that, at my  spending rate, I wouldn’t be able to afford to go and would have to decline the invitation.”

He decided to make small changes to help him reach his goal, such as driving less to save on petrol costs, opting for no-name brands at the supermarket, and cancelling DStv and other streaming channels.

“I had my hair cut at the local barber rather than a hairdresser, ate out less, and spent less on alcohol,” he says.

He also re-evaluated his car insurance. “Most of us don’t do this, so we spend more than we need to,” he says. “Cars depreciate in value every year, but we happily pay more – and insurance companies don’t remind us to re-evaluate.”

Numerous small changes made a big difference. “My savings grew to a sizeable amount, and I was able to pay for the trip to Cancún comfortably!” David relates.

Cultivating a saving habit

Natasha Oosthuizen grew up in a home where money was tight, and she had to find her own way in life.

“If I didn’t save for what I wanted, I’d have nothing,” the 29-year-old beautician says.

She remembers her teachers worrying about her future, so she was determined to ensure she could live comfortably as an adult.

“I lived with my grandmother, who participated in stokvels, and these small savings helped us through some difficult months. However, I wasn’t comfortable with group savings as I didn’t have friends I could trust,” she recalls.

“For that reason, I created my own rainy-day fund. I’d put any spare change and pocket money into my savings box, which got bigger as I got older. Finally, I opened a bank account so I could deposit all my savings.”

Natasha says depositing spare cash every two or three months became a habit.

“I didn’t withdraw a cent from that account. The day I finished school, I used my savings to pay for a beauty course. My dream is to open my own salon one day, so I still have my account, and I still save regularly.”

Setting goals

A savings goal helps you stick to your programme, says 18-year-old student Velaphi Dhlomo. His matric class will be visiting China and Malaysia next year, and he’s been saving up for the past three years.

“It’s a tradition that matriculants go overseas for two weeks,” he says. “My parents and I have agreed that I need to fund 50% of the costs, including my ticket, and I’m saving part of my pocket money and any other cash I receive.”  

Velaphi has a weekend job at a coffee shop to supplement his savings, and has accrued almost enough money to pay for his ticket.

“Over the next few months, I’ll start saving for my entertainment during the trip. I’m pretty sure I will have saved more than enough by next February,” he says. He adds that knowing what you’re saving for can motivate you to succeed.

Tip: Find out more about how to reach your savings goals. 

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