My colleague, Carmen and I are currently trying a little experiment to see if we can go a week without spending more than R500. We’ll be telling you more about that in a future article, but needless to say that our budgeting task has really gotten me thinking about the way we spend money.

I don’t know about you but I’ve always been somewhat of a reckless spender. My good intentions of saving money usually go flying out the window and into the nearest bookstore the moment I set foot in a shopping centre.

While I don’t think it’s a bad thing to invest in books (quite the opposite, in fact), I have to confess that when I’m making a book purchase, I don’t really think of what I’m going to do in terms of the rest of the month.

And therein lies the problem: I fall victim to the plight of instant gratification and spend my money on things that should wait until after I’ve bought the necessities.

How many of us are guilty of doing this? Worse, how many of us are guilty of purchasing things that look good, but that could wait because we don’t really need it?

Here is a list of things you should rethink spending money on.

1. Lottery tickets

Yes, there’ve been people who’ve won the lottery – I’m not denying that. But the ratio of the amount of people who’ve won in comparison to those who haven’t? Disproportionate doesn’t even begin to cover it!

Take the Powerball prize for instance.

According to, the odds for matching the minimum number of powerballs in the lotto are about 1 in 37. Winning the actual jackpot (which requires you to match all the numbers on the ball)? That’s about a 1 in 24,435,180 chance of you winning.

Perhaps buying a ticket doesn’t seem like much, but if you tally up the amount you spend on tickets per week or per month (depending on the Lottery draw), then surely all that money you’re using could be put to better use?

2.  Clothes that cost more than the sum of your groceries

I know. I know. It’s not easy to say no to yourself when you see that new pair of shoes or outfit that would simply look darling on you.

But, before you do, consider the following: do you need the item of clothing in your life right now? Is it an investment piece that you’re going to wear more than once? Could you perhaps save a little money before you buy it?

No one is saying that you shouldn’t treat yourself or spoil yourself with a gorgeous item or two, but do your research about trends (and the longevity thereof) and shop smartly instead of impulsively.

3. Year-long subscription services that you don’t really use

A few years back a friend and I joined a gym. For the first few weeks all went well – we were motivated and driven to attend.  Until we weren’t. Slowly but surely a missed gym day became a missed week, and then a missed month until I stopped going altogether.  Unfortunately, I was still paying for my membership. You can see where I’m going with this.

Unless you’re willing to commit to a service that you know you’re going to use, avoid signing up for something that you’re only going to end up wasting money on.

Don’t want to gym but you want to up your fitness game? Buy fitness DVDs or search for tutorials online. has compiled a list of some of the best health and wellness channels to check out, so rather invest in data if you don’t trust yourself to commit to a gym subscription.

4. Decorative items that won’t pay the bills (Go DIY instead)

Of course we want our homes to be open, welcoming and beautiful. But, unless you can afford to buy high end décor features, then it’s time to get in touch with your crafty side and go the DIY route.

New to the DIY game? Check out our Décor and DIY section to get those creative juices flowing. Not only is it a cheaper option, but it’s also (and mostly) much more fun.

READ MORE: Home makeovers: here’s how the professionals do it

5. Don’t get caught in the sale trap

Who doesn’t love a good bargain? The problem with sales (besides the hordes of people) is that people often end up buying a whole lot of things they don’t need simply because it’s on sale. Also, because you’re getting it for cheap, you convince yourself that you can buy more simply because it’s on special.

In the end, the money you think you’re saving only goes into more stuff, and that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

What are some of the some of the best tips that have helped you to save money? Share your comments and stories with us by mailing us to and we’ll feature it in a future article.


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