How To Survive Month-End On A Shoe-String Budget

It is the last week of the month, and money has become a bit tight. We looked at how you can survive this last week on just R200.
Sherryn de Vos
2017-03-20
The week running up to payday is always a stressful time for everyone. With over three weeks of the month behind us, we all seem to be counting those last pennies. I found myself at the end of a month with a mere R200 left in my account. After the hysterical panic had subsided into controlled horror, I went about figuring out how to sustain myself until pay day. So I thought I would let you into some handy tips that kept me going through the rest of the (very long) week that ensued.

Make A Budget

I hate making budgets. It’s stressful, confusing and I never end up sticking to them anyway. But in this case, I simply had no choice. I now needed to figure out how I was going to spread this money over the last few days. You will need to consider petrol, three meals a day and any other living expense that you might have not covered over the month. You will be surprised how quickly toothpaste runs out at the end of the month. Petrol to get to and from work is obviously one of the main considerations too. You can also take public transport into consideration. I live near the train station and work in town. Not only was this a lot more cost effective, but I also managed to get in earlier. Once this is covered, you can hereafter start working out your meal budgets.
Read More about making a budget and sticking to it below

Buy In Advance

This may sound ridiculous, as you don’t exactly plan to get into this sticky month-end situation. I, however, have developed a habit of buying things as soon as they are on special. Spaghetti, macaroni, tinned tomatoes, tuna, oil, eggs. Pick up non-perishables as much as you can while you still have disposable cash in your account and save a couple of Rands each time you do. People think I am crazy as I have about five packs of spaghetti in my pantry at all times, as well as tinned tomatoes. However, when all I have to pick up is some mince and a small pack of tomato paste for a spaghetti bolognese, I am the last one laughing. Try and buy meat in bulk in advance. There are many butcheries that will create a monthly pack for you and charge you in between R350 to R500. For a bachelorette, this is perfect for me. You can pop everything in the freezer and defrost it when it's time to whip up your meal.

Plan Your Meals

Planning your meals can have a great impact on the amount of money you are spending each day. Spaghetti bolognese is an absolute month-end staple for me. A huge pot of mince can be spread out over several meals, and I am really not averse to eating the same thing for a few days. Try and also go back to the basics. You have a certain amount left to spend at the shops, so make it count. Include in your list eggs, milk, bread (or rolls), cheese, loose tomatoes, loose potatoes, R20 worth of ham, tuna and maybe even burger patties. You will be surprised how far these can take you. The eggs are perfect for breakfasts and can be used for simple quiche recipes (they are not as hard as they look). Ham can be used in the quiche one night and then in a Carbonara the next. A few chicken breasts, some broccoli and a jacket potato is also somewhat affordable and nutritious. You can be really creative once you sit down and plan how to spread out your weekly groceries. You will also need to cut out alcohol somewhat. Despite this being the week you really do want to drink your sorrows away, this is usually a huge expense and you will also be doing your body a favour.

Use Rewards And Points

The end of the month is usually the time when I start taking out my Pick n Pay rewards card to see how much I have gotten back. Clicks is always helpful to cover the elusive toothpaste. The WeChat/ Snapscan wallet rewards really help with some much-needed cash during these last days. Sign up to as many of these rewards as possible. You will thank yourself!
Read More about saving money with some of the best reward programmes below