January, the 31-day period at the start of a new year that also goes by “the longest month of the year” or more infamously as “Janu-worry”, is a tough time money-wise for many of us.
Not only are we recovering from Festive Season overspending, but there are bills to be paid, school stationery to be bought, cars to be serviced, the renewal of annual subscriptions, premium increases on policies – among at least 10 others (hence the term Janu-worry!).
“It is a stressful time of year for thousands of South Africans, particularly in light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy,” says Saul Gur, financial manager at Teljoy, the country’s foremost rent-to-own provider.
But it doesn’t need to be all doom, gloom and mountains of debt – Janu-worry can be made more manageable. “The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of your personal finances and evaluate where you can cut costs, how you can save more and, importantly, how to avoid high-interest debt while still ensuring your needs and those of your family are met,” Gur shares.
Is it Murphy’s Law or just bad luck that the same time your eldest needs a laptop for school the fridge stops cooling and the washing machine just refuses even to switch on. “If you’re thinking high-interest debt is your only option, think again – think rent-to-own,” Gur recommends. Rent to-own offers consumers a flexible and convenient way to rent appliances, electronics and furniture on a monthly basis, with no upfront costs, no repair or maintenance costs, and no fluctuating monthly fees as interest rates fluctuate.
Here’s a little secret. Your insurance company wants to retain you as a client so they are most likely open to negotiating the premium on your car or household insurance. “Often, all it takes is a call to your provider and asking if the current rate is the very best they can offer you. Or phone around and compare quotes, mentioning to each what the other can offer,” Gur suggests. Healthy competition is the backbone of a thriving economy and starts with the individual.
And this doesn’t just apply to insurance – you should be able to renegotiate the interest rate on your home loan, your phone contract and bank fees. Gur also mentions that Teljoy items come with built-in risk cover so there is no need for additional specifications on household insurance.
Evaluate your needs and wants
You know that subscription to that “Miracle Me” app you haven’t looked at since at least mid-April 2020 but costs R700 a year? That is a want and not a need. “We all have things that we want, and which cost us money, but that we don’t use at all or under-use. The start of a new year is a great time to distinguish between the wants and needs, and ensure the wants that remain on the list are worth the money they cost,” Gur advises.
Make the most of home
Not only is home where the heart is, as the adage goes, it is also the safest place to be as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage around the world. “Staying at home is also a great way to save money as you’re eliminating the cost of travel, eating out and entertaining, all things that can really add up at the end of a month,” Gur says. Challenge yourself and your family instead to find fun things to do at home. Not only will you save money but it can be a great opportunity for spending quality time together.