As the price of petrol currently stands at an average of R15.80 per litre, it is reported that South Africans are spending more on fuel than they are on actually buying cars; spending on average "R14.76 billion per month on fuel, and just over R14 billion on new vehicles," according to Business Insider.

An article in Fin24 reports that the increase in petrol prices in South Africa not only affects those who have petrol tanks to fill, but it also affects consumer products, though not immediately.

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In the midst of this financial tension, everyone is adapting their spending habits, and people have their unique ways of ensuring that they stretch their rand as far as it can go. Three millennials share with us how they manage their finances in the midst of petrol increases. 

Nosipho* moved from home to live closer to work in order to save on driving back and forth:

Salary: between R12 000 and R20 000 a month

Cost of petrol per month: R2 000

The petrol increase has been really rough. Being newly employed and needing a car for basically everything makes things a lot more difficult. I had to move cities to live much closer [to work] to save on petrol.

I'm trying to save as best as I can but the petrol increase has really put a big dent on my financial and saving abilities, so saving has been put on hold a little bit.

Before last month, I used to drive everywhere, even to places that are in close proximity; but what I do now is I walk to the places I can. When I go to campus to deliver and collect stuff, I usually just walk there now. 'Walk more, drive less' is what I've been doing and I'm basically getting more cardio in. 

I also take a lot of extra tasks on at work so that I can get the extra money in to just assist with the petrol. I also look carefully at spending money on things I don't need.

"If you're always carrying cash around, it makes it seem like you always have money even when you don't necessarily have it."

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Banele* doesn't have a car yet because having one may prove to be more expensive than using public transport:  

Salary: R7 000 a month

Cost of transport per month: R2 200

The petrol price increase affects my prospects of being able to save for and buy a car and makes it more expensive to switch to private transport.

I haven't changed my spending habits per se, but I've had to sacrifice a lot more things. I've opted for living like a student even though I have a job. I used to splurge on product or going out, but I've had to cut back on those luxuries and find ways to spend less. 

I have a savings account, so every month I try to put in at least R100 into that account. In terms of grocery shopping, as opposed to writing a list and then going to the shop and buying the items on the list, I put side a certain amount of money - like if this month I put aside R300 - then anything beyond that will have to be excluded.

I just make whatever items on my list fit into the R300, obviously starting with the necessities. If there's money left over then I add in some of the other stuff I might need. 

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Also, this thing of withdrawing money and having physical cash on you encourages a person to spend more and you don't see how fast your money is going. I've opted to keep only R100 in my purse as cash, and I make sure I don't use it, it's just a stand-by amount of money, and for the rest, I swipe. If it's electronic, it's easier to track my expenses.

I'm trying to find ways where I can gain more money as well. So, at Pick 'n Pay, I end up using my smart shopper points for shopping. I'm with Absa, so the more I swipe, the more cash I get back. It's not exactly extra money, but I use that for small things like airtime just as a way of saving money.

"'Walk more, drive less' is what I've been doing and what I am doing currently - basically getting more cardio in."

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Ivan makes investments to generate more income:

Salary: between R15 000 and R25 000

Cost of petrol per month: R5 000

All sorts of costs have affected how I spend my money, and it’s really not great at all. Especially when salary increases are only made once a year whereas rates increase consistently. In light of the recent three week petrol increase saga, I’ve had to continuously alter my budget, reducing unnecessary spending habits, especially entertainment and what-not. In some cases, if I was driving to work on a daily basis, I had to form a transport agreement/roster with a colleague to alternate the days that I use the car.  

I would call myself a cautious spender, but I would be lying. Nonetheless, I had to reduce my spending or shopping habits - cooking instead of fast food; buying airtime and data monthly instead of weekly. Those are the few areas which I had to adjust in order to balance my day-to-day living. 

I have opened up a few tax free investment platforms in order to save at better interest rates with good returns. Also, making sure I use all discount cards so that all the cashback options are utilised to make my money work smart for me. I believe that financial freedom needs to be consistently sought in the light of the recent hikes in an assortment of rates. Jut make every rand count and make money work the right way for you, rather than being enslaved by it. 

*Not her real name

All accounts have been edited minimally for clarity and length.

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