I understand that knowledge and know-how about savings, debt and budgeting aren't generally considered to be wildly riveting. Yet, it is a crucial life skill that alarmingly few of us have, but all of us need. The results of last year’s Female Nation Survey showed that less than 5% of us save. That’s pretty scary, isn’t it?

Read:What stops you from saving?

We need to demystify the financial sphere and learn to look after our own financial interests. Here are 5 basic rules that are actually very easy to follow once you've internalised them:

1. Stop buying stuff you don’t need.
Our obsession with consumerism is ruining our lives, making us poor and killing our habitat. You are not your clothes, or your car, or your phone, or your house. What you own does not define you. Stop wasting money on stupid possessions that you don’t need. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

2. Find out what you spend your money on.
Track your expenses. A few weeks ago I found out – completely by accident, mind you – that I have been paying DSTV an extra R800 per month for the last two years. Simply, because I never check my bank statements or query anything. While this story has a happy ending (they’re obviously going to pay me back) the moral is actually that we must look at where our money goes. You’d be surprised how much you spend unconsciously. Bank costs, unnecessarily high insurance rates and all sorts of hidden costs surreptitiously eat into your paycheck.

Read:10 ways to slash your food bill

3. Avoid credit as much as you can.
Get rid of your store cards and pay off your credit card. If you saved the money you pay in interest every month, your financial situation will look entirely different. Get used to living within your means. If you don’t have money for that holiday or that new pair of shoes, it’s simple. Don’t buy it.

4. Pay yourself first
Arrange for a certain amount of money to be taken off at the beginning of every month and go on from there. We all make the mistake of thinking we’ll save what’s left over at the end of the month. But who are we kidding? There’s never anything over at the end of the month.

Read:You only have 6 months of savings left until December.

5. Don’t do it alone
Involve your family. Compete with your partner to see who can save the most. Teach your kids to manage money so that they don’t end up like you one day.

Read:The local and lekker way of saving

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