Money en-us catherined at cosmopolitan dot co dot za Copyright 2009 Four Things To Consider Before Getting A Student Loan

Do the maths
How much, exactly, will you need to loan from the bank? To find out just how much you need, consider how many years it will take to complete your degree, not forgetting to factor in expenses like books, stationery and res fees.


Do your research
Don’t apply at the first bank you see: one financial institution may offer different rates to the others, so shop around and try to find the best ‘deal’. Read up on the terms of conditions attached to each loan. Also, find out if there are any benefits of using one bank over another; for instance, some may offer you a bank account as well as a loan.


Get organised
Make sure you have all the required documentation when you apply for your loan. If you’re fresh out of school, you’ll need to provide your matric certificate. If you’re already studying, you need proof that you passed the previous year. You do not need these documents if you are studying towards a technical qualification at an FET college.


Making the repayments easier
A student loan is a great help when it comes to financing your studies, but at some point, you’re going to have to repay it. To make sure that you don’t start your working life on a back foot, consider getting a varsity job, and saving a portion of your pay to put back into the loan. Also, use the loan sparingly: if you have funds from other sources, use them to pay for things like your books. This way, you’ll have a smaller repayment to make. Once you’ve graduated and started earning a salary, put as much as you can into the loan. Try to pay more than the minimum amount required, as this will help you service the interest, so you’ll need fewer months to repay it.


Fri, 24 Jan 2014 12:00 +0200
ADVERTORIAL: Enchanting Events with Touareg Tents
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They’ve been involved in some of the country’s biggest bashes, including Rocking the Daisies and The J&B Met – they know how to set up a proper party. As well as tents they also have loads of accessories for hire. Outside heaters, cocktail tables and lighting will turn your event into something magical.

Hire a tent for your next outdoor party and concentrate less on the weather and more on your outfit.

For a free quotation contact their professional, friendly and passionate sales team or visit their website,

Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:00 +0200
Avoid A Spending Hangover This New Year!
The festive season happens at the same time every year, so it’s easy to budget for it. Start putting away extra money a few months in advance. Work out your December budget by listing all the extra items you'll need to pay for. Don’t forget to include items you’ll be buying in January.

Use your bank statements, invoices and receipts to gain an accurate picture of how much you spend each month. List these in a column on a page. In a second column, write down how much you earn. This will help you identify your spending patterns and find places you can possibly save.

If you’re spending more than you’re earning, you need to make some changes. Take a second look at your ‘spend’ column and sort out the essentials (petrol, rent) from the non-essentials (clothes, entertainment). Consider opening separate bank accounts for these two categories – that way, you’ll always have money for the things that you really can’t live without. Just don’t be tempted to dip into the ‘essentials’ account if ‘non-essentials’ starts running low.


Try to save a little bit every month. Put your savings in an investment account, and watch them grow.

If you have a credit card, pay the specified amount at the end of the month to avoid paying interest. 

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 12:00 +0200
6 Ways to Manage Your Cash Over the Holidays
SAVE (regardless of how little spare cash you have) by stashing some money in an interest-bearing savings/call account.

USE A DEBIT CARD – this makes it easier to keep track of and limit your expenditure.

NEVER DRAW CASH FROM YOUR CREDIT CARD ACCOUNT (for example from an ATM) because you’ll pay a high interest rate on that money from day one.

DRAW UP A BUDGET and stick to it. This may make you think twice about buying a latte on the way to work, because it can mean one less cocktail at the beach later…

DON’T BORROW MONEY TO BLOW, especially from your bond – the rate of interest is calculated over the full term of the loan.

‘Research shows that people spend 12% to 18% more on general purchases if they pay with a credit card instead of using cash,’ says Sneddon.

For more information on (Life Planner) click here.
Sun, 15 Dec 2013 12:00 +0200
Silly Season Gift Ideas for Under R100 Buying cool gifts doesn’t have to melt down your credit card

’Tis the season of gift-giving, ‘secret Santas’ at the office and the occasional December birthday – and all the generosity can leave a huge dent in your holiday fund. Here are some nifty present ideas that will make you look thoughtful and keep your finances healthy.

Get an accessory
Looking for a gift for a friend who digs jewellery? These simple yet classy earrings (R99 at Truworths) or pretty floral ring (R89 at Truworths) will look great with an LBD at the myriad parties she’ll be hitting this summer.

Get a bottle of wine
You might think that ‘good’ wine will set you back a good sum of money but you can find amazing reds and whites for under R100 at all major retailers (Pick n Pay, Checkers Hyper, Spar and Woolworths). Pick a colour, pick a varietal and go wild!

Get something funny
A ‘secret Santa’ at work can be tricky – but if you know your colleagues well or have worked together for a while, you can pick up a humorous (and unisex) knick-knack at a place such as Cardies or Big Blue for between R50 and R100. Think funny posters, WTF Post-it Notes, funky-coloured wine-stoppers, slightly rude fridge magnets or a desk calendar full of yoga cats.

Get something for her beauty cupboard
Spoil your BFF with the luxurious, heavenly-scented Honeymania Shower Gel (R90 at The Body Shop) – or get her a striking nail polish, such as Revlon Nail Enamel in Urban (R94,95), and help her create an awesome mani that’s perfect for the beach.

Get together with your mates…
…or family members and contribute cash towards a bigger present. A Kindle for your mom? Easy if you get your dad and brother to play along. An iPod Shuffle for your man’s birthday? No problem if you rope in his friends. All you have to do is gather the money together, get the gift and buy a card. We call that a win.

Get busy!
Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you make yourself. We’re not talking about baking a cake – although that could work if you’re an aspiring Rachel Khoo and the person you intend to give it to has a sweet tooth. If, however, the kitchen is not your favourite playground, why not try nailing old furniture handles/knobs into a piece of wood to create a retro necklace hanger, or repurposing an old picture frame into a cool chalkboard? Vintage chic is in right now, so you’re bound to be a hit!

Photography: and

Tue, 03 Dec 2013 12:00 +0200
What To Do With Your Bonus
1) Say goodbye to debt: Start 2014 without a giant credit card bill looming over your head. Use your extra cash to pay off all your store cards.

2) Start building your legacy: You’re never too young to start thinking about your financial future. Invest in a long-term savings vehicle now, and you’ll benefit from years of compound interest.

3) Invest in a retirement annuity: It might seem like ages until you’re ready to stop working, but the scary fact is that most South Africans don’t have enough money to retire on.

4) Start building your property portfolio: You might love your lock up and go lifestyle, but property will always be one of the most sound investments you can make. If you already own a house, invest in it – use your bonus to get rid of those flaws that are forever bugging you (a tap that leaks, a room that needs a coat of paint). Or, put your extra money into your bond. Even a small amount will go a long way to reduce the amount you pay in interest.

5) Start an emergency fund: It’s an unglamorous reality: life tends to blindside us with (usually expensive) emergencies from time to time. Invest your bonus in an interest-bearing account, and you won’t have to worry the next time you find yourself in a tight spot.

Fri, 22 Nov 2013 12:00 +0200
5 Things to Do When Selling Your Car Online Read this to get the best deal with no hassles

Whether you want to upgrade your ride, settle your student loan or fund a once-in-a-lifetime skiing trip to Europe, selling your car online for cash can get you the money you need. Once you’ve posted an ad and got a few hits, these tips from OLX Africa’s marketing head Bronwyn Johnson will help:

1 Sort out the paperwork.
This will reassure the buyer and prevent delays and disagreements. Get the buyer to sign an offer to purchase, outlining the agreed price and the condition of the car. Both of you should sign and keep a copy. If you have a certificate of roadworthiness, give it to the buyer together with the original registration papers. If the vehicle is still being paid off, arrange for the papers with your finance provider. Also, check that there are no outstanding fines attached to the vehicle.

2 Prep the car.
The only things in the glove compartment should be an owner’s manual and registration papers – and the only things in the boot should be a spare tyre and the tools the car came with. Check that the air-con and all switches and lights are working, check the oil and water, and take the car to a carwash for a full inside-and-out valet.

3 Meet the buyer.
Meet in public to show the buyer the car, and take someone with you for added security (and moral support!). Make sure your insurance covers the buyer – he or she will want to test-drive the vehicle. Never let a potential buyer test-drive your car alone.

4 Get paid.
Cheques are easy to forge and cancel, and they often bounce. Receiving large sums of cash is also not a good idea unless it’s done at a bank where it can be counted and deposited immediately. An EFT is best – as long as you make sure the money clears in your account before you hand over the car. If the buyer still needs to make arrangements to pay, ask for a 10% deposit once an agreement has been reached.

5 Seal the deal.
The last form you need to fill out is the one that will de-register the vehicle from your name. Get it at the traffic department.

Remember to be honest about the condition of the car, including its service history and any accidents it was involved in. With the Consumer Protection Act in place, being sloppy or sneaky could get you into serious trouble!

Tue, 19 Nov 2013 12:00 +0200
How to Stop Being Scared of Your Bank Balance Suffers could experience physical symptoms, such as palpitations, nausea or lightheadedness when they think of dealing with their money. People with financial phobia make themselves potential victims of debt and fraudulent exploitation.

If you think you are potentially suffering from financial phobia, you need to take control of your situation by using the following steps. It’s easier than dodging phone calls from debt collectors.

Find the cause
Often, financial phobia does not come about from laziness or weakness. Sometimes, it is caused by our genetic makeup. You could just be born that way. Another cause could be due to a traumatic childhood experience such as your parents losing their money due to a bad investment.

Fight it
If your phobia starts intruding on the quality of your life, you should get help. You should take action as soon as you recognise the symptoms.

Get help
There are different ways to tackle the problem. Firstly, you could educate yourself. Enroll for an accounting course and learn how to manage your money and finances. Secondly, you could see a psychologist. In severe cases of financial phobia, you could end up suffering from depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and much more. A psychologist can help you get to the root of the problem and find the underlying cause. You will be given support and guidance while being shown that your financial issues is not as frightening as you might think.
If you would like to read more on financial advise, click here.

Tue, 12 Nov 2013 12:00 +0200
Cash Course: Part 1 Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts In Your Life And Relationships. ‘Sometimes it’s true - but if you believe in myths you can’t make rational financial decisions, and you and your relationships could suffer.’ If you’re driven by the idea that money equals security, for example, you may feel perpetually hopeless or panic-stricken that you don’t have enough saved. Couples who have the opposite money habits tend to find themselves locked in conflict – unless they can unchain themselves from the fear or need that’s driving their behaviour.

What makes one person a miser, and another a spendthrift? Most of us are actually a combination of types with a prevailing trait in our money personalities. To find the style that best reflects your own traits, then read on for advice about playing up our strengths, improving your weaknesses and meshing your style with your man’s.

The Hoarder

• You sneak your own popcorn into the cinema. Why buy an expensive box when you can pop your own and pay far less?
• Doing the monthly EFTs isn’t a chore – as you make the next transfer it’s great to see how much in savings you’ve amassed.
• You live for a great bargain and love to tell friends about your latest flea market finds.

Whereas others see money as a means to nice things, hoarders see it as a means of obtaining security. ‘I don’t think I could ever reach a point where I felt I had “enough” savings,’ says Robyn Ebert, 26, an employment consultant. ‘There is no monetary figure in my head that would make me say, “Phew! I’m financially secure!”’ Indeed, no matter how much a hoarder has, she always harbours an irrational fear that one false move or unexpected disaster will leave her destitute, says Jordan Goodman, author of Master Your Money Type.

Your Strengths
• You easily live within your means. You can stick to a budget and your money is never wasted on credit-card interest or overdraft bank fees.
• You’re a master bargain hunter who can dress and decorate beautifully on a shoestring budget.

Your Weaknesses
• Focusing on a secure tomorrow means you often fail to enjoy today.
• You can be too conservative with your savings and tend not to opt for riskier, better-performing investments.

Your Strategy
To improve your financial future, says Mellan, take baby steps towards loosening up. Allow yourself a small luxury or move a small portion of your savings into moderate equity funds rather than keeping it all in a low-risk, low return bank account. Start with a balanced fund or equity-income unit trust fund, suggests Tanya Lund, a certified financial planner at Progo Insurance Brokers in Cape Town. Learning that ‘risky’ behaviour doesn’t necessarily lead to disaster will help you become more comfortable with exploring other investment options that can grow your nest egg and allow you to enjoy your hard earned cash.

Doesn’t sound like you? Come back tomorrow for The Spender and the next day for The Binger. (Are we getting closer to your money personality?) It’s great advice so check in tomorrow.

For more money articles, click here 

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00 +0200
Cash Course: Part 2
In part 1 of this article we looked at the traits of The Hoarder. Tomorrow we’ll focus on The Binger. But today’s financial personality is…

The Spender

• Who cares if you have a wardrobe full of handbags? You deserve that new Prada bag
• You like to wow your friends with fabulous gifts, but wowing them with your gorgeous home and luxury car is even better
• You’ve never met a credit card offer you didn’t like.

Purchasing is a balm that helps spenders feel important, loved and validated. The need for love or approval is often the result of having parents who withheld emotionally, or from enduring childhood deprivation. Spenders’ inner voices tell them, ‘I deserve this; I won’t be denied anymore.’ The biggest spenders are status-seekers who equate extravagant possessions with self-worth.

Your Strengths
• You know how to live in the moment and enjoy life
• You’re often the first to pick up the bar tab or spring for a gift that makes someone feel special.

Your Weaknesses
• You tend to overindulge and exceed your means.
• You rack up credit card debt and are loath to save, which could spell disaster in retirement or in a financial emergency

Your Strategy
To get your spending under control you must first tackle the insecurities that drive your habit. ‘Spenders have to stop filling every emotional hole with things,’ says Olivia Mellan, author of Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts In Your Life And Relationships. She advises building self-esteem in other ways. Become a volunteer or take up a sport or hobby, although taking control of your financial life could prove the biggest boost of all.

Doesn’t sound like you? Come back tomorrow for The Binger and the next day for The Money Master (Are we getting closer to your money personality?) It’s great advice so check in tomorrow.

For more money articles, click here 

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00 +0200
Cash Course: Part 3
In part 1 of this article we looked at the traits of The Hoarder; yesterday it was the The Spender’s turn. Today’s financial personality is…

The Binger

• You have no trouble saying no to lattes but you can’t resist blowing your rainy-day fund on a new flat screen TV.
• You find the cheapest credit card and the best deal on a dishwasher… and then pick up the tab for all your friends at dinner.

A binger is really two types – hoarder and spender – in one. Bingers long for security so they put money away but then the itch to indulge sabotages their efforts. ‘I’m good at saving,’ says Wendy Kelly, a 32-year-old health-care receptionist. ‘But then all of a sudden, I’ll go shopping.’ Once, Kelly saved about R 8 000, then blew it all on Christmas gifts. Bingeing is just another form of over-spending, says Mellan. Like spenders, bingers are driven to splurge by the need to feel approved of, which comes in powerful waves. They usually keep their spending under control but, in a weak moment, they make an extravagant purchase that refills the emotional tank – and empties the bank account.

Your Strengths
• You’re on the right track towards a good, balanced financial style.
• You have the instincts of a saver; you keep an eye on your money.
• You aren’t so stingy with money that you can’t enjoy spending it on yourself.

Your Weaknesses
• When the spending mood strikes, you don’t dip into your wallet, you empty it.
• Your ‘I’ve been good about saving so I deserve to splurge every now and then’ mentality feeds your bingeing cycle.

Your Strategy
Institute spending limits. Instead of going on a shopping spree, reward yourself with something special that isn’t expensive. When you do shop, set a limit and take only that much cash with you. (Yes, cash!) Another tactic: distract yourself. Visit a museum or have coffee with a friend. Any thing that ‘jams the trigger of the impulse’ will work, says Mellan.

Doesn’t sound like you? Come back again for The Money Master and the next day for The Worrier. (Are we getting closer to your money personality?) It’s great advice so check in tomorrow.

For more money articles, click here 

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00 +0200
Cash Course: Part 4
In part 1 of this article we looked at the traits of The Hoarder; Part 2 was the The Spender’s turn, and part 3 looked at The Binger. Today’s financial personality is…

The Money Master

• You use credit cards for convenience and pay off the full balance each month.
• You set aside a percentage of your salary for savings.
• You thoroughly research your investment options but don’t lose sleep over whether you picked ‘the best’

To money masters, cash is simply a practical tool for living: chances are their parents were also money masters or they became masters after curbing overspending habits or easing up on hoarder tendencies.

Your strengths
• You save and invest for long-term goals and treat yourself without overspending.
• You upgrade your lifestyle as your income grows.

Your weaknesses
• You may feel justified in giving your friends unsolicited financial advice, which can strain relationships.
• You’re reluctant to turn to others when you do need financial advice – you’re supposed to know it all!

Your strategy
It’s noble to want to ‘rescue’ your friends but you’re already leading by example. Let them come to you for advice. Even though you take pride in finding your investments it doesn’t hurt to consult a pro when you’re about to make major financial decisions.

Doesn’t sound like you? Come back again for The Worrier and the next day for The Money Monk. (Are we getting closer to your money personality?) It’s great advice so check in tomorrow.

For more money articles, click here 

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00 +0200
Cash Course: Part 5
We’ve previously looked at the traits of The Hoarder, The Spender, The Binger and The Money Master. Today we’re concerned about…

The Worrier

• You lie awake at night fretting that you won’t have enough to cover the bills
• Financial decisions paralyse you

Everyone worries about their finances at one time or another but The Worrier is distraught over every money move she makes – no matter how much she has. ‘The only time I’m comfortable is when the monthly bills have been paid,’ says Wendy Abbruscato, a 41-year-old graphic designer and photographer, ‘but I soon start worrying about next month’s bills.’ This obsessive concern can stem from a lack of confidence in handling money, from being a perfectionist or from parents who were frugal in the extreme.

Your Strengths
• One thing’s for sure: your finances won’t suffer from neglect, as you’d never miss paying a bill on time!
• You’re more likely to use a financial adviser, who can help you to manage your money even better than you.

Your Weaknesses
• Money concerns consume you.
• You take so long to make financial decisions that you miss opportunities.

Your Strategy
Mellan suggests that each day you write down your worries and the worst that could happen if they came true. It will help you feel more in control. Ask friends to recommend a financial planner who can confirm that you’re making smart money moves – or point you in the right direction. Once your budget is set, review your finances no more than once a month.

Doesn’t sound like you? Come back again for The Money Monk  (Are we getting closer to your money personality?) It’s great advice so check in tomorrow.

For more money articles, click here 

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00 +0200
Be Smart About Spending tax rebate, don’t dash off to splurge it on designer shoes. Geraldine Macpherson, senior legal adviser at Liberty Retail in Johannesburg, has these suggestions for what to do with a lump sum.

Settle Debt First
‘When you consider how much you’re being charged in interest on a loan, settling your debt first is one of the best investments you can make,’ Macpherson says. ‘Settling debt also means freeing up income to spend on other important financial needs, such as cover in the event of death or disability.’

Invest It
If you have no debt to settle, invest the money. Because of the wonder of compound interest, the earlier you start to save, the more money you’ll eventually have. ‘A conservative approach to financial planning would suggest that you invest the entire amount of your retirement. If you invest R3 000 today, with an annual growth of, say, eight percent, you will have R32 807 in 30 years’ time. The idea would be to add other lump sums to the pot as you go,’ says Macpherson. Get a financial adviser to help you decide what’s best for you.

For more on saving and investments, click here

Tue, 20 Aug 2013 12:00 +0200
Cash Course: Part 6
We’ve previously looked at the traits of The Hoarder, The Spender, The Binger, The Money Master and The Worrier.

Today we’re looking at…

The Money Monk

• You’d never ask for an increase: needing money makes you feel greedy.
• You believe the desire for money chips away at people’s moral values, so you try to avoid dealing with your finances as much as possible.
• When you have a windfall, you can’t wait to get rid of it so you donate to charities or try to help your cash strapped friends.

‘I’m afraid money would corrupt me,’ says Rochelle Mee-Chapman, a 36-year-old minister, ‘so I don’t want to deal with it.’ Handling money in any way makes a money monk feel as though she’s giving in to it’s seductive power. Often, money monks were raised with deep religious or political convictions – their parents taught them that money is the root of evil or that wealthy people are ‘capitalist pigs’, says Mellan.

Your Strengths
• You focus on the more important things in life and have deep values.
• You’re capable of great generosity.

Your Weakness
• You often short-change yourself, which puts your financial security at risk because you fear that you will become materialistic.
• Your aversion to money causes you to neglect routine money chores and to avoid planning for the future.

Your Strategy
Remind yourself that money isn’t all bad – it allows you to keep a roof over your head, help friends and support charities. To make things easier, put your finances on autopilot as much as possible: have your salary deposited directly into your bank account and set up debit orders for monthly bills, savings and investments.

For more money articles, click here 

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00 +0200
Cut Your Electricity Bill
Eskom has increased the average electricity price by 8%, and it's set to go up more. While you can't stop using electricity, you can cut your bill by understanding what's pushing it up. Here, some good tips and tools.

Understand how electricity billing works. Always keep in mind that the more electricity you use, the higher the rate is that you pay. To keep your rate as low as possible, only buy what you need to cover you for the month. Don't top up every six months with a big once-off purchase - this will make you pay the rate for higher-consuming customers while your actual monthly usage might be low.

Fri, 12 Apr 2013 12:00 +0200
Cent Savvy

'Saving money is like getting into shape,' says Jean Chatzky, author of Make Money, Not Excuses (Crown Business). 'It's not fun at first, but once you get into the habit and start to see the results you want to do more.' The simplest way to save painlessly is to make it automatic, and the greatest payoff comes from your a retirement plan.

Fri, 16 Nov 2012 12:00 +0200
Safe Online Shopping
Mark Chirnside, CEO of online payment solutions company PayU which has a 'payment gateway' that acts as a safety net between the consumer and the merchant, says that consumers shouldn't be wary of online transactions – as long as they observe a few safety and security measures. Here are some tips to keeping your details safe.

It might be tedious, but the more verification included in the buying process the more secure your transactions are.

Thu, 11 Oct 2012 12:00 +0200
Money Etiquette Issues  

A: Yes. She shouldn't be hurt if she knows your bailing is not about her, but rather about your bank account. Explain that things are really tight and you can't make it but you'd love to celebrate with drinks beforehand.

Tue, 18 Sep 2012 12:00 +0200
Be Savvy With Your Money broeks and face the financial facts.

As women, 'finance' is not our favourite word - unless we're saving up for a pair of Louboutin shoes, that is. But the reality is that the schmancy shoes ain't gonna support us when (heaven forbid) we get old. As women, we live longer, earn less and take more breaks from the workplace to have babies, raise children and care for elderly parents - which all translate to being pretty vulnerable economically. Worse, stats indicate that women are less financially literate than our male counterparts. Being financially independent and planning for a time you won't be able to earn might sound boring, but it's really, really important.

Says Boitumelo Mothoagae, financial adviser and manager of customer management operations at Liberty, 'One of the major obstacles women face is a lack of retirement planning and preparedness. As many women earn less than men, their retirement challenge is bigger.' Here, Mothoagae lists some tips on how to be 'money savvy' in a man's world.

Don't make the mistake of allowing your partner to handle the finances. Educate yourself about money matters, and take responsibility for yourself. By giving someone else control of your money, you make yourself vulnerable, and run the risk of being in a tricky position should the relationship end.

Thu, 16 Aug 2012 12:00 +0200
Prep For Being Fired  

Ja, it may seem like squeezing blood from a stone, but try to stash away anything you can - even a measly R100 a week. You really won't notice the difference in your weekly budget, yet it'll give you some extra money to fall back on. Ask a bank rep to fill you in on savings account options. He or she can tell you about everything from basic savings accounts to online and money market options.

Fri, 24 Aug 2012 12:00 +0200
Cheap Thrills can have a blast without spending a cent.

Trade clothes with a friend who's your size. Before going out, have her bring over a few cute outfits for you to try on, and then let her raid your closet. You'll still get that new-stuff buzz.

Fri, 18 May 2012 12:00 +0200
Happiness On a Budget ...

Swap This:
Going out to dinner with friends.
For This: Invite friends over for dinner and allocate each person something to bring (a cheese plate, a salad, etc).

Swap This: Buying a new top.
For This: Swap an item of clothing with a friend for one week - all the excitement of wearing something new, but without the cost.

Swap This: Getting a facial or manicure.
For This: Put on some relaxing music, burn a scented candle, pour a cup of jasmine tea and apply a face mask and hair treatment.

Swap This: Flying to another city to visit a friend.
For This: Set up a 'Friday night drinks' Skype date. Have a glass of wine and catch up for free.

Swap This:
Meeting a friend at a café for a cup of coffee.
For This: Invite your friend over for a cup of coffee instead.

Swap This: Booking a romantic weekend away.
For This: House-swap with friends who live close to the beach.

Swap This: Getting a salon do for a big night out.
For This: Invite a girlfriend over and curl or straighten each other's hair.

Swap This: Going out for lunch with your colleagues.
For This: Have a cook-up with your flatmates and make healthy snacks for lunch instead.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 12:00 +0200
Five Easy Ways To Save Money
1. Choose Cheap Clothing Basics If you're buying items like jeans you need to invest in the good brands (the cut and quality are just way better), but for the basics (think: tees, vests, strappy sandals, gym gear) you can totally get away with el cheapo stores. A lot of these products come from the same place (China), so while the price might be vastly different at a more upmarket clothing store, the quality and durability probably aren't.
2. Cough Up For Footwear
3. Make Your Own Lunch
4. Look For Deals
5. Make a List Before You Go Shopping (and Stick To It)

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 12:00 +0200
Avoid The Spending Hangover DebtSafe, an extensive network of debt counsellors who operate across South Africa. 'Following a few simple steps will ensure you that your New Year starts on a clean slate - free of any unnecessary financial burdens from the festive season.'

Compile a Budget - and Stick To It Work out how much all your regular expenses cost you each month (house, car, groceries, socialising), and subtract the total from your take-home pay. The amount left over (if you have budgeted correctly) is what you can safely spend on fun stuff, like bottles of bubbly and celebratory dinners.
Set Spending Limits
Decide Where To Shop


Why not improvise and create your own gifts? Stuff you've put time, thought and love into counts for a lot more than something you grabbed at the Spar and shoved in a used 'Merry Xmas' bag. Here are some ideas that even the most creatively challenged can pull off:

Cards: At about R30 a pop, Christmas cards cost a bomb. Instead, use that money to buy cardboard, ribbons and glitter glue. Gather a bunch of girlfriends, chip in for a bottle of zesty white and have a card-making party using old cards, pics cut out of magazines and images sourced online. It's probably been ages since any of you did anything creative, and you'll be surprised at how much fun it is.

Biscuits: Ask your gran for her gingerbread biscuit recipe. Then, put them in recycled glass containers like jam or mayo jars wrapped in ribbons or colourful paper and with your awesome, handmade card attached – it becomes a personal and very special gift for someone you care about.

Scrapbook Collage:
If the gift is for a much-loved family member or a special friend, collect photographs and mementos, and use scrapbooking elements to create a 'memory montage'. The look on their faces when they open this thoughtful gift will be worth every second of the time it took to make it.

Wrapping Paper:
The bought kind is a waste of money, and hard on the environment. Instead, wrap gifts in plain brown paper or even newspaper. Adorn the present with a brightly coloured ribbon, and before you leave the house pick a flower or a small branch of ivy from the garden and tuck it under the ribbon – a simple touch that looks pretty and festive.

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 12:00 +0200
Plastic Safety
As plastic rapidly replaces the hassle of carrying cash, particularly when travelling, more and more people use credit cards as their sole method of payment.

But, beware. Says Jacques Celliers, CEO of FNB Credit Card, 'We tend to get carried away with the convenience of our credit cards and sometimes pay little or no attention to how we use them. Our customers need to be encouraged to use their credit cards safely, and to be extra vigilant about keeping an eye out for theft whilst travelling.'

Celliers suggests the following tips when travelling with your credit card:

Make sure your card is always near you or in a safe place. Don't leave it in your hotel room or on the restaurant table while you visit the bathroom.

Be vigilant about card swapping or any suspicious skimming devices at toll gates and ATMs.

If your wallet goes missing, immediately cancel all your cards, including your petrol card.

Register for your bank's transaction notification service so that you are kept up-to-date on what's happening with your bank account 24/7.

When leaving an ATM or when paying with your card always make sure that you receive the correct card back.

Try to avoid drawing cash late at night or when you are alone.

Be aware of the daily withdrawal limits on all your accounts, and decrease your limits if you don't need them.

When you need assistance while travelling in a foreign country or at home don't accept help from strangers - go into a branch to obtain help instead.

Wed, 19 Oct 2011 12:00 +0200
Wise Up!
'Everyone, at every age, should take control of their financial future,' says Conway. 'You are responsible for making wise financial choices so that you can become financially secure and independent.'

Before you start investing, Conway recommends doing some research on shares; finding out what the risks and benefits are to holding and owning shares, how the economy affects the Stock Exchange and the costs associated with buying and selling your shares. 'Seek the lowest costs of share ownership by checking brokerage fees, share account fees and commissions,' she warns. 'Minimising your fees is one way to gain higher returns.'

It's important that you speak to a reliable service provider who will be able to help you trade shares, says Conway. There are many options out there and it's worthwhile to shop around and do some research, she adds.

Conway has set out 10 top tips for you to consult when you start your investing process.
1. Start Investing Now - Don't wait. The sooner you start to invest, the better. Time is an investor's best friend, as it gives compounding a chance to work its magic. The earlier you start, the less you have to invest to reach your goal.
2. Invest Regularly - Investing is not a once-off thing, but something that you continue doing throughout your life.
3. Don't Borrow To Invest - This should be logical, but many people fall into this trap. Also remember only to invest what you can afford to lose.
4. You're Buying a Company, Not Just Shares - A share performance is dependent on the company which, in turn, is dependent on the environment in which it operates. This includes its industry, the general economy, politics and its customers.
5. Buy Shares In a Company Making a Profit - If you buy a share in a company not making a profit, you are not investing and you are running a risk.
6. Diversify Your Share Portfolio - Spread your investment across different companies and over different sectors. The biggest risk in investing is putting all your eggs in one basket. The easiest and cheapest way to diversify share investments is through Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
7. Don't Buy On Hot Tips - Do not buy into companies unless you have done your homework first.
8. Don't Try To Predict Market Moves - Trying to predict the direction of the market is difficult, if not impossible. Even experts are not always accurate.
9. Buy and Hold For the Long-Term - Continue to monitor your shares during this period, but consider selling your shares if general economics have changed or if the value of your shares is not appreciating.
10. Be Patient! - Investing for the long-term will let you ride out the unavoidable ups and downs of the market.

Go forth and invest, girls! See - it's not that difficult.

Thu, 07 Apr 2011 12:00 +0200
The Big Borrowing Guide
Whether it's R100 from a friend to cover your round, or thousands for a new car, how you borrow can have a big impact on your budget. With this in mind, we sought expert advice to arm you with the key rules for borrowing the smart way.

The 'Quickie' Loan You're desperate for those concert tickets but can't afford them this month. Is it rude to ask a friend for the money? 'Most of us have been in this position at some time, and on the plus side, borrowing from a friend is interest-free. But, really, emergencies are the only time it's acceptable to ask,' says accountant Michelle Coulson. If you don't have any other options and you think she won't mind, it's worth trying. Just make sure you set a date to pay the money back – and stick to it. Taking advantage of a friend's generosity can often ruin a friendship.'
The 'Bargain' Loan
The 'Emergency' Loan
The 'Long-Term' Loan

Fri, 11 Mar 2011 12:00 +0200
Make a Plan Flight Centre's marketing manager, Deanne Grove, you shouldn't give up so easily.

'Decide from the beginning what you are looking for,' says Grove. Whether it is a beach holiday, a skiing trip or a Caribbean cruise, you need to work out what you want from your holiday, she says. Downtime? A busy schedule packed with sightseeing? 'Talk to people in the know,' she suggests. Both a travel agent and friends who have recently travelled will be able to help you work out what suits your budget and holiday needs, she adds.

For local travel, Grove recommends making your bookings three to four months before you leave in order to get the best rates and availability. If you are travelling internationally, bookings can be made up to 10 months in advance, she says; either way it should be done as soon as possible.

Make sure to research your destination properly, she says. 'It is important to know when is the best time to travel to a destination, what the weather will be like, what there is to do at your holiday destination and what the cost implications could be.'

Firstly, you'll need a deposit to cover airline costs, warns Grove. The beauty of planning your holiday well in advance and saving for it effectively is that many holiday destinations will give you a discount if you book in advance, she says. Leaving your travel plans for the last minute will leave you scrambling to find flights and accommodation, she explains, which could not only leave you forking out extra cash, but also running the risk of not being able to go on holiday at all.

When saving for your holiday, says Grove, always keep in mind your spending money, sightseeing costs and travel insurance. 'Even if you are on a fully inclusive package where all meals and drinks are included, there are bound to be unexpected costs.' Don't think those extra bottles of water or outings to the market don't add up…

So, how much do you need? Grove recommends taking the amount you spend on a daily basis when you're at home and doubling it. For example, she explains, if you spend R200 per day over the weekend, budget for R400 – R500 per day while you're on holiday. Remember to always take into account the exchange rates, she says. While this amount might not get you enough Euros for your Switzerland getaway, it will be more than enough for a trip to Thailand, she explains. If your meals and drinks are not included as a part of your stay, she adds, budget for about R750 per day for your holiday.

'Always keep in mind that most countries require South African passport holders to have a visa, while some destinations require departure tax and possible inoculations and budget for this,' says Grove. Where possible, she says, your travel agent will ensure your departure tax is paid in advance, but at some airports you have to pay this fee in cash.

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 12:00 +0200
Are You His ATM?
Unlike when she was at school, men were finally taking notice of her. 'l did use my money as a means of attracting men,' admits Caroline. 'l'd never been able to get guys as a teenager because l wasn't very outgoing and they just weren't interested. When I was in a position to splash out, my popularity increased overnight, and as l grew bolder, l'd start chatting up men in bars.'

So when Caroline arrived at the reunion, she was able to face her old friends with a new self-confidence they hardly recognised. Everyone knew what a success she'd made of herself - and one old classmate, Peter*, seemed particularly impressed. Back in matric, when everyone fancied him, he'd barely noticed Caroline, but now he made a beeline for her and she was thrilled. 'He was in his third year at university, living off a grant. But that didn't put me off - I still fancied him like crazy,' she says.

They started dating and were three months into the relationship when Caroline started to feel uncomfortable. 'At first I didn't mind paying for him - he was a student and I was working - but I noticed that he always chose the classiest restaurants and ordered the most expensive dishes on the menu. When he moaned about having no decent clothes, I bought him a whoIe new wardrobe. I often "Ioaned" him money but he never attempted to pay it back. And although we went on numerous holidays together, he didn't contribute once.'

Caroline started to suspect that Pete wasn't as attracted to her as she was to him. 'l can see now that he didn't find me sexy. We only saw each other once a week, at the most, because he said he was too busy studying. ln bed, l sensed that his mind was elsewhere.'

His mind was indeed elsewhere - unbeknown to Caroline, Pete was engaged to someone else (who wasn't wealthy), and was wining and dining her with the money Caroline had lent him to pay off his debts. She discovered the betrayal when she scrolled through his cell phone and read SMSes from the other woman. 'l felt so humiliated that at just 26 l'd been used as a 'sugar mommy'.' She reckons that being Pete's girlfriend cost her about R110 000 in total.

A report published by Barclays Wealth Management in the UK states that in 20 years' time, 60% of the world's wealth will be controlled by women. By 2020, female millionaires will outnumber male ones due to career success and sensible money management. For the first time, the stereotype of the female gold-digger is being reversed. Now it's just as likely that a man will seek out a partner for her money.

And you don't have to be earning mega-bucks for it to happen to you. Even in a seemingly normal relationship you may find you've gradually become the Bank of Girlfriend. Felicity* and John* believed they could be happy, in spite of the huge difference in their incomes. Felicity, 28, runs her own advertising agency, while John is an illustrator who picks up commissions when he can. 'When we met, it was definitely love,' says Felicity. 'But John always seemed to be broke. After a year I encouraged him to move into my flat, suggesting that whenever he had money he could use it to clear his debts and occasionally treat us to an evening out.'

As time went on, Felicity noticed John wasn't even making the effort to find work. 'l was paying his debts, as well as all our living expenses. He took me out for dinner just once and then complained about the cost,' she explains. 'Eventually, he just moped around the house all day or spent his time in the local bar. l know l made it too easy for him, but l started to really resent him.'

The final straw came when Felicity asked John if he'd mind tidying the flat - after all, it seemed crazy to have a cleaning lady when she had to vacuum around him. 'l was dumbstruck when John asked me for R200 for three hours' cleaning – just less than l paid the cleaner. l refused, but l did buy him a pair of trousers which he badly needed. Only after accepting them did he tell me they wouldn't do in lieu of payment and he said he didn't want to be my 'slave'. Our relationship broke down and l finally threw him out.'

Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor, says a financial imbalance, where the woman is supporting the man, cannot sustain when the woman feels she's not getting any emotional or practical support in return. However, the fallout is greater for those who
have been deliberately targeted. 'Afterwards, you feel like an idiot. And once the grieving process for the relationship is complete, there's a need to rebuild your self-esteem,' says Knowles. 'If a woman has been manipulated in this way, she'll need to be cautious before starting a new relationship.'

American author Ginie Polo Sayles goes so far as to give advice to male gold-diggers in her book How to Marry the Rich. She advises men to take a job in the private lounge of an airport, or attend AA meetings in affluent areas (where the women will be both rich and vulnerable). She also says that in the absence of a high income, men should use an athletic skill to attract a rich lover. Dating website reports a rise in men who specify they want to date only women above a certain income level. In 2004, 51% of men specified a minimum income for dates, up from 37% in 2001.

Rob*, a 29-year-old artist, admits to being a serial gold-digger. ln his late teens, he worked as a model and was spotted by the head of a fashion house. The woman (who was in her forties and married) offered him a head sales job at her flagship store, even though he had no experience.

'The deal was clear - all I had to do was sleep with her, which wasn't that difficult,' says Rob. 'She was attractive and powerful, and I soon convinced myself that I preferred the company of an older woman. It was easy to confuse material love with emotional love and to become dependent on a person who could give you everything.' When his lover's husband eventually found out about them, Rob was swiftly dumped. He kept his job, but not the lifestyle that she'd paid for. 'At first, I was a wreck,' he says, 'but gradually I realised it was the money that I missed.' Rob then made it his business to seek out older, rich women, and has been a successful 'money bunny' for 10 years. 'Some of the women wanted marriage but l couldn't take it that far. I've always thought, l'll give up the gigolo stuff once I've made money of my own, and then marry someone I really love.'

A trawl through the internet reveals that this 'personality type' is far from rare. It appears young 'studs' offer their services in the bedroom in exchange for all the trappings wealth can bring. In one blog alone, a dozen men in their twenties brag about their sugar mommies. 'She paid for my iPod, a new sound system and a Ducati motorbike,' writes one 22-year-old about his 37-year-old lover. Another 'money bunny' explains, 'All I have to do is tell her I love her and remember not to eye up young girls when she's around.'

Posing as a rich, older woman, I replied to adverts where young men were actively seeking sugar mommies. I didn't even post a photograph, but I was still inundated with offers. One 25-year-old web designer was offering his services as 'house boy'. 'I'm good-looking, great in bed and will make you feel young again,' he wrote. 'I'm happy to live in your house and help out when I can, and you can show me off to your friends.'

So I called Sean* and asked him how much he wanted to be my 'live-in boyfriend'.

'As long as you cover my rent, bills and living expenses, I don't need more than R5000 a week,' he told me. When I asked if he'd have a problem sleeping with a woman he might not find attractive, he told me, 'That side of things is easy if I get paid well.'

Knowles says, 'There's a specific personality type who loves the idea of money and lifestyle above the person, themselves. Anyone who does this serially never truly falls in love; they fall in love with what the person can provide.'

So if you're proud of your success and happy with your bank balance, don't reveal your salary. As with conversations about exes and babies, keep your pay slip off-limits for those first crucial dates - no woman wants to be her boyfriend's ATM.

*Names have been changed.

Fri, 21 Jan 2011 12:00 +0200
The Skint Fix 1. Throw a Hollywood party. Get your friends to dress up as their film heroes and play movie bingo. For example, every time Bridget does something embarrassing in Bridget Jones' Diary, you all have to down a shot. Which could get interesting...

2. Get clothes-swapping. One woman's fashion disaster is another's hot new look, so invite your friends to bring their unwanted gear around and refresh your wardrobe for nothing.

3. Go indie. Ticket prices at your local independent cinema are often a bargain.

4. Get stuck into a bestseller. Look at the current top-10 list in your local bookstore. How many have you read?

5. Gatecrash a gallery. Local galleries often hold private viewings, including free drinks. Get on the mailing list to find out when they're happening, then get your way in. lf you get stopped, try looking over the doorman's shoulder and saying, 'I'm with Dave.' Every party has a Dave.

6. Play SingStar. Forget your boyfriend ogling Lara Croft - a karaoke night with a difference is what PlayStations were made for. SingStar is a singing game that rates your performance and offers versions with '80s hits, anthems and legends. Look out for the PS3 version, which lets you download songs from the internet.

7. Learn to cook. Buy a girl a ready meal and you feed her for a day; teach her to cook and you feed her for life. Cookery books might be pricey but they save money on takeaways in the long run.

8. Hibernate. The best things in life are free - and that includes snuggling under the duvet with your man and seeing where it leads...

Mon, 20 Dec 2010 12:00 +0200
Beat The Festive Pile-On
MONEY-SAVER #1: Plan, Plan, Plan! 'Decide on your budget and allocate a fixed amount for each present,' says Michelle Doughty, author of The Joy of Money. Be honest and tell people your plans. 'If anything, it makes you think harder about buying presents that friends and family will really appreciate.'
MONEY-SAVER #2: Be Realistic
MONEY-SAVER #3: Buy in Bulk
MONEY-SAVER #4: Don't Feel Deprived

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 12:00 +0200
Before You Open Your Wallet... More Than Money: 7 Steps To Wealth And Prosperity.

According to recent research, millions of women say they can't resist a bargain – and yet, can't afford to save, either.

So, the next time you're standing in front of that must-have dress, ask yourself the following three things:

Do You Want It Or Do You Need It? You need it if... you've been planning on buying this item for a long time - in other words, it's a premeditated purchase and you'll wear it regularly. 'Ensure you're buying on your own terms, and not the shop's,' says O'Malley.

You want it if... you've already got nine dresses just like it in your wardrobe. Walk away. Now.

Repeat offender? 'Think about why you're really trying to cheer yourself up,' says O'Malley. 'One shopping fix will only make you crave another, and won't resolve your underlying problem, whether it's work, friends or man-related.'
Can You Really Afford It?
Do You Have To Buy It Now?

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 12:00 +0200
Make Over Your Money Mindset
MINDSET #1: 'I'll open those statements tomorrow' Your financial affairs won't run themselves, so don't ignore them. 'Women in particular feel disempowered about money,' says Ruth Whitehead, a former musician who became an independent financial adviser after getting stuck with a bad mortgage. 'The key is to educate yourself – and if you can't work out what to do, get some advice.'
MINDSET #2: 'I don't have time to shop around'
MINDSET #3: 'Who'd bother stealing my identity?'
MINDSET #4: 'I'II worry about paying into a pension when I'm older'

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 12:00 +0200
CO2 Tax

Essentially, says Kerry Wright, director of Cleaner Climate South Africa, carbon emissions tax is a good idea. 'South Africa needs to institute a multitude of emission reduction measures in order for us to meet our Copenhagen Accord commitment of reducing the country's emissions by 34% in 2020.'

The carbon dioxide emissions tax is supposed to encourage you to move towards more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles, says Douw Leadley, divisional executive of sales and operations for Nedbank's motor division. This could have an impact on your buying behaviour if you're considering buying a new versus a used car, he says, as the emissions tax could add between R5 000 and R10 000 to the price tag of an average new car.


If you're looking to buy a new car, the deal won't seem so sweet at first. And it seems the motor industry is with you on this one, considering we're the only country in the world to impose tax on regular cars (and not cars being used for commercial purposes). They have criticised the tax and don't believe South Africa can import or produce cars with lower CO2 emissions, says Leadley. Why? Our fuel specifications are not yet up to standard for this move, he explains. The motor industry also believes that the tax is coming at a bad time. South Africa is still recovering from the recession, which means new vehicle sales will plummet and jobs will be lost.

On the flipside, the National Treasury will benefit from the carbon emissions tax. 'From a tax revenue perspective, emissions tax could potentially raise R1 billion a year in revenue for the National Treasury,' says Leadley. Let's just hope it's spent on environmental issues.

Wright agrees. There is concern, she says, that the income generated from this tax has not been ring-fenced specifically for funding of environmental or emission reduction projects and is simply falling under general taxes.


Despite the criticism, Wright believes carbon emissions tax is a good motivation for all new car buyers to consider buying smaller, more efficient models. 'It will save you money in the long run anyway, as you end up using less fuel.'

The carbon emissions tax means that new cars are taxed based on their certified CO2 emissions at R75 per g/km (grams per kilometre) for each g/km above 120 g/km, says Leadley. So, if you're looking to buy a new car and aren't sure which cars are both environmentally friendly and affordable, here are a few ideas for you to consider.

A Toyota Yaris emits 127 g/km, a Kia Picanto, 141 g/km and an Opel Corsa Lite 1.4, 174 g/km. At the top end of the budget cars, an Opel Corsa Lite will cost you approximately R4 000 more than it would have before the implementation of carbon emissions tax. If you wanted to treat yourself to a BMW X5 4x4, which emits 325 g/km, you'll end up forking out about R15 000 more than the original sale price. 'But, be honest,' says Wright, 'do you really need a big, gas guzzling 4x4 to run around town?'

So, if you need a little guidance before you start looking for your dream car, visit the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa. On their website, select which make and model you wish to buy and you'll be able to find out what its fuel consumption is, as well as how many grams of CO2 it emits. This way, you'll be able to see exactly how much extra money you'll need to spend on buying your new car.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 12:00 +0200
Don't Be a Money Mug
MUG’S CHOICE: Seduced by savings accounts
SMART CHOICE: Check out the competition
You see an ad for a new savings account offering a 10% interest rate and you think, ‘Brilliant, where do I sign?’ But financial adviser Susan Hannums explains, ‘There’ll always be restrictions to these deals, such as high fees to withdraw cash or making you move your current account too, which is likely to have a poor interest rate.’ So before you commit, use a comparison site to find the best package, then keep switching when a better rate comes along.
MUG’S CHOICE: Cellphone monogamy
SMART CHOICE: Play the field
MUG’S CHOICE: Cheap gym offers
SMART CHOICE: Flexible fitness
MUG’S CHOICE: Politely paying for bad service
SMART CHOICE: Pay under protest

Wed, 22 Sep 2010 12:00 +0200
Weekend Spending
It doesn’t have to be like this. Just because you’re looking after your financial interests, doesn’t mean you have to hibernate over weekends. Bryan Leach, a financial planning consultant for Private Client Holdings, shares a few money-saving tips to keep your savings in check on the weekends.

Friday Night: Movie Night Remember the days when movies cost R10? Well, with a ticket costing more than R39 now, those days are clearly long gone.

Investigate a more cost effective way of going to the movies, says Leach. Discovery Vitality, Clicks and Edgars card members get great discounts on movie prices, he says. If you don’t want to change your medical aid scheme just to watch cheaper movies, the retail club cards are free. If you’re a Ster-Kinekor regular, the Edgars ClubCard knocks 50% off your ticket price, while at Nu-Metro you’ll pay R25 for all 2D movies with a Clicks ClubCard.

‘Watch the cost of the extras though – they often don’t add much to the experience, but they can add substantially to the cost,’ says Leach. Popcorn, coke and a packet of sweets can end up costing more than 50% of the price of the movie itself, he says. Too often something that should cost R50 ends up costing R100; yet the person who spent R50 and not R100, has just as good an experience as the person who spent money on all the extras, he explains.
Saturday Night: Eating Out
Sunday: Shopping

Fri, 27 Aug 2010 12:00 +0200
Have You Got Money Flu?
SYMPTOM: You can’t separate ‘want’ from ‘need’ OK, it’s winter and of course a nice coat is essential, but do you really need a brand new one? We’re all guilty of spending on the non-essentials, but if you regularly put off paying the electricity bill because you’ve convinced yourself you ‘need’ something else, it’s a problem.

CURE: ‘Work out how much cash you have left after paying off your bills,’ says Katie Edwards, from debt experts Ladies In The Red. ‘If all you have left is money on your credit card, that’s not spare cash. Prevent irrational spending by locking your credit card in a box, hiding it and giving the key to a trusted friend. Then sew some new buttons on your old coat.’
SYMPTOM: You can’t resist treating yourself
SYMPTOM: You struggle to keep up with your friends
SYMPTOM: You can’t resist the sales

Mon, 16 Aug 2010 12:00 +0200
The Property Market
What it boils down to is: to afford to buy property you’ll need to save. One of the biggest obstacles to saving is short-term debt, so if you have numerous store accounts, start getting rid of them. This will help you save enough for a deposit more quickly. Another saving mechanism is to choose cheaper accommodation while you’re renting (stay in a not-so-up-market area or in digs) so that you’re able to put away some of your salary every month.

And talk to your bank manager: she’ll help you work out how much you can afford. Plus, she can advise you on how to attain a pre-approval certificate, which will give you more bargaining power because the seller will know that you are a serious buyer. Also make sure your credit record is healthy.

Some people are opting to go into the market with a friend or relative. But before you do, you need to make sure your property partner is in it for the long term, and you have to be able to trust the person. Make sure you have an exit plan in place in case one of you needs to sell. (People change jobs, get married; get divorced and go on trips into the desert to find themselves.)

As a first-time buyer you may need to accept far more modest accommodation at first – look at buying a bachelor apartment in a not-terribly-trendy part of town. Another option would be to buy a larger, older home that enables you to rent out a section or have housemates. Bond approval gets tricky, though, as you need to secure rental agreements from tenants before the bond can be processed.

Buying off plan can also be a good idea. Prices are cheaper than if you wait to buy the same unit once it is built. But these off-plan units are often very small, so make sure you know how many square metres the property covers (excluding covered patios and garages).

There are a number of costs involved in buying a home that can be overlooked. Don’t get caught out!

1. Transfer Fee This is the largest hidden cost. Transfer fees are around 8% on a house exceeding R1 million, says Praven Subbramoney, Head of Pricing, Profitability & Capital Management at FNB Home Loans. They are paid to the government for the privilege of changing ownership. Transfer fees for the first R500 000 are free, he says. For amounts between R500 000 and R1 million, you’ll have to pay a 5% transfer fee and when you move up to a house costing over R1 million, you will have to pay the 8% transfer fee as well, says Subbramoney. Therefore, on a house costing R1.5 million, the transfer fee would be R65 000 (R25 000 + R40 000), he explains.
2. Bank Charges
3. Ongoing Monthly Costs
4. Loan Interest

Mon, 02 Aug 2010 12:00 +0200
Be Cash-Happy By 30 The Barefoot Investor (John Wiley and Sons Ltd). To find out whether you’re headed in the right direction, read the comments below and tick the ones you agree with. If you tick two or less, follow Pape’s advice and you’ll be on track for financial freedom by the time you hit your thirties.

At 20 You Should Be: • Continuing your education and/or starting work
• Budgeting your income
• Coping with day-to-day living expenses

‘I’m useless at sticking to a budget,’ says Pape, ‘but I get cash-control motivation by deciding what I really want in the future – and where l want to be in two or five years’ time. Right now, sort out where your cash is going (read your bank statements), and budget so you live on your income, avoiding debt. Do this and set up a high-interest account - if you start saving even £1 a day it’ll grow quicker than you think.’
At 25 You Should Be:
Then, At 30, You Could Be…

Fri, 16 Jul 2010 12:00 +0200
Empty-Purse Syndrome
FRITTER FACTOR #1: Convenience Spender • The local takeaway automatically knows my order
• If I’m late for work, I’ll grab a metered taxi
• I seldom buy enough food to last me all week
• Forward-planning? It’s boring

If you agree with two or more...

‘This is an avoidance issue,’ says Jasmine Birtles, author of The Money Book: Control Your Money, Control Your Life (Piatkus Books). ‘Getting organised with your cash means doing some boring planning. If you keep your head in the sand you’ll continue to treat your purse like a bottomless pit.’

Sort it: Realise how much this is costing you. ‘Waste R200 a month on convenience spending – like buying a new top instead of mending an old one – and that adds up to R2 400 over a year. That could buy you a week in the sun.’
FRITTER FACTOR #2: Emotional Spender
FRITTER FACTOR #3: ‘It Doesn’t Count’ Spender

Tue, 29 Jun 2010 12:00 +0200
Five Months to Holiday Heaven
‘The first thing you have to think about is what kind of holiday you want,’ says Gareth Davies, a financial planning specialist from Private Client. Whether it’s an overseas trip or a local getaway, you need to make this decision to get an idea of the budget you’ll need, he says.

Once you know what to budget for, you can save a specific amount of money every month, says Davies. Some prefer opening a separate bank account for their holiday money, he says, but if you are a disciplined saver, this may not be necessary. It’s important to remember that another bank account may mean extra bank charges.

Be aware of what options various banking institutions are offering. If your money is too easily accessible, you may find yourself dipping into your holiday savings before you’ve even started planning your trip, warns Davies. ‘A good solution would be a fixed deposit account where a notice period is required to gain access to your savings.’ The added bonus? ‘These accounts also offer higher interest rates than normal accounts.’

Now is the time to have a look at your current budget and make a list of what your fixed expenses are, says Davies. ‘You will be surprised at how much money is spent on things you don’t really need.’ Remember, he says, there’s always room to save; you just need to learn to cut out the unnecessary expenses no matter how hard it may appear to be.


Many places, including airlines and car rental companies, offer discounts if you book in advance, says Davies, so start your research early. He suggests scouring the web to compare fares and discounted rates, as well as check to see if there are any specials running. ‘When you book a car, don’t be scared to ask for specials,’ he explains. ‘Often you can get an upgrade for the same prices as the lowest budget car.’ If you are part of loyalty programmes, he adds, don’t let your benefits and bonus discounts go to waste.

‘By this stage, you should be able to see if you are on track,’ he says. If you find you aren’t, he suggests cutting back on the spending or picking a cheaper holiday. If your social life is cutting into your holiday saving plan, Davies suggests making your own food at home instead of eating out, shopping at cheaper stores and packing lunches for work.


Now it’s time to actually make your reservations to ensure availability and avoid any extra expenses, says Davies. ‘Assess where you are. If things are looking slack, look at getting your friends in on the act.’ He suggests hosting a friendly competition to see who can save the most.

Keep Saving
‘Now that you have booked your accommodation and transport, the rest of your savings will go towards food and entertainment.’ Davies advises to start saving more than you originally planned to, as things can go unexpectedly wrong during busy holiday periods and the last thing you want is for your saved holiday finances to be used for that flat tyre you picked up last week.

Get Ready… It’s Here!
Everything is booked and paid for, so it’s time to start planning your itinerary. After four months, you should have saved up enough spending money for your trip. If not, make sure to spend your money wisely this month, as this will be your last chance to bulk up your purse before you leave. Remember, if you’ve chosen to open a 32-day fixed deposit account, now would be the time to make the call to the bank to ensure your money is available by the time you jet off.

Fri, 18 Jun 2010 12:00 +0200
Winter Investments
A South African winter can be an icy experience, but if you're bundled up in a stylish trench coat you won't feel a thing. Make sure you buy a quality molten coat and nothing too thin or flimsy. But you don't have to break the bank to buy quality.
Save: Ackermans (R299)
Splurge: X&O at YDE (R899)

Slipping into stilettos may look fabulous from the warm comfort of your bedroom at 7am, but the second you step outside, you're going to wish you had a pair of thick socks and a chic pair of boots keeping your feet warm. Whether you choose to save or splurge, make sure you don't buy boots that are going to start falling apart after one season.
Save: Shoe City (R199 – R279 a pair)
Splurge: Zoom (R1 299)

Keeping warm doesn't have to increase your carbon footprint – buy an energy-inefficient heater. The most energy-saving and least wasteful options are either infrared or wall panel heaters. While prices range from company to company, we found two hot options for you to think about investing in.
Save: Econo Heat Wall Heater (R299)
Splurge: Striking Energy Deluxe Infrared Heater (R1050)

Fur is back in style again – faux fur, of course! And it seems owning a furry quilt is right on trend. Picture yourself curled up on your couch on a stormy night under a warm, fur quilt… While fur might not always be in fashion, it will certainly keep you warm every time winter comes around, making it a good buy and an even greater investment.
Save: Mr Price Home (R459.95)
Splurge: @Home (R699)

Along with soups and stews, red wine and winter enjoy a functional relationship. With thousands of cheaper (and more expensive) brands to choose from, a COSMO girl really is spoilt for choice when it comes to picking the perfect bottle to match the perfect meal. Remember, while you might want to splurge on one bottle for a special occasion, cheaper wine can taste just as good, if not better.
Save: Perdeberg Soft Smooth Red (R31.99)
Splurge: Groot Constantia Merlot (R139.99)

No one enjoys getting out of a hot bath or shower in the middle of winter. Investing in a super-soft fleece robe will keep you warm post-scrub, and it will last for years.
Save: Woolworths (R199)
Splurge: La Senza (R699)

Together with your new fluffy gown, a pair of slippers is a must. No, not your favourite pair from two years ago with the holes. A fluffy, new pair. While sheepskin slippers may not be the prettiest option, they are warm and durable. By far, one of the smartest winter investments you'll ever make. You don't really need to splurge on this one, as Oskavas only cost between R200 and R240.

Once you've settled in for the evening on your couch with a glass of red and your heater by your side, switch on the TV and relax. Buy (or rent) your favourite TV series box set (one you'll watch over and over again). If you'd rather spend less, buy one season instead.
Save: We recommend True Blood Season One (R329.95)
Splurge: You can't go wrong with the Will and Grace Complete 32-Disc Box Set (R999.95)

Mon, 10 May 2010 12:00 +0200
How To Break Even - If You've Broken Up Money A Memoir: Women, Emotions, And Cash (Henry Holt and Co.), suggests strategies that allow you – and your money – to move on.

CASH CRISIS #1: 'l paid for some concert tickets just before he dumped me. Can I get the money back from him?'
Go for it! 'Women are often more uncomfortable than men talking about money,' says Perle. 'We don't want to look petty, money-grabbing or greedy. But what do you care what he thinks of you anyway? It's over. Offer him a face-saving way out by reminding him he "might have forgotten" the money he owes you.' If he won't pay you back, the tickets are non-refundable and you don't have another friend to take, why not sell them on Gumtree? You never know, you might end up making a profit.

CASH CRISIS #2: 'We bought some furniture together. I walked out on him, so do I have to say goodbye to that, too?'
'No, you're entitled to half and, since it's you who ended the relationship, you're in a strong position to fight for it,' says Perle. 'If he's hanging on to the furniture, it's for one of two reasons: revenge or compensation. Be careful – if you chase him by phoning him repeatedly, you're giving him the attention he probably wants. Go round there, be clear and direct that you want your stuff (bring a list), then leave.'

CASH CRISIS #3: 'I lent him some money when we got together. Now he's avoiding my calls.'
Perle advises caution here. 'Ask yourself how important the money is. Is it worth R500 or even R1 000 to keep making contact with him? Or are you using the money to keep an emotional connection alive?' Chances are he didn't take care of you in the relationship and this is just a nasty reminder of what a loser he is. You could try writing a letter threatening to sue him in the small claims court for the cash. It might frighten him into paying up, even if you never take things any further.

Thu, 29 Apr 2010 12:00 +0200
Fall In Love With Your Finances, shows you how...

Don't go to bed on an argument
Letting problems fester can destroy relationships and the same will happen with your finances. 'If you bury your head in the sand, things can spiral out of control quickly,' asserts Cairncross. 'The longer you leave bad debts, the worse the interest will be. If you call your bank manager the minute you're in trouble, they'll see you as honest and respectable. They're less likely to penalise you than if you ignore the problem and hope it just goes away.'

Don't let yourself go
Get complacent about your man and your relationship will suffer. The same can be said for money too. 'Finance can be so dull, it's no wonder we get careless,' says Cairncross. 'Teach yourself to respect money by giving yourself a goal – whether it's picturing R500 in your account at the end of the month, or a dream holiday you need to save for. This will help you focus.'

Constant communication
Any relationship thrives on contact – phone calls, SMSes and conversations keep lovers connected. 'Get to know your accounts again,' says Cairncross. 'It's now easy to manage your cash online, so put aside one lunch hour a week, print your statements and work out exactly where your money is going. This will help you realise where you could save, and also makes it easier to spot any fraud on your account.'

Talk about the future
Sure it's good to live for today, but so is the security of knowing where your relationship is headed. 'Planning for the future doesn't have to be boring or a chore, though,' says Cairncross. 'Get into the habit of putting 10% of your wages into a high-interest saving account every month. One with a 32-day access clause will stop you drawing out the money on a whim. You're saving for the future... even if you don't know what that future holds yet.' ]]>
Mon, 15 Mar 2010 12:00 +0200
What is most important, says Keith McIvor, Absa's customer market solutions managing executive, is that you save at least 10% of your nett salary. ‘A little bit of extra money will protect you against future financial hardships and put you in control of your long term financial future.’ Whether you’re already thinking about your retirement, want to take that sought-after trip to the Zanzibar or simply must have that cashmere trenchcoat for winter, you need to think about saving first.

Minimum Deposit: Between R20 and R100 depending on who you bank with.
Risk: None
Hiding your spare cash in a Jimmy Choo shoebox under your bed is not a good way to save. You want your money to be accessible, but you also want it to be safe. There are loads of savings accounts to choose from, all of which generally don’t come with excessive bank charges at the end of the month. You can make deposits and draw as much money as you want at any time,’ says Lezanne Human, CEO of Savings and Investment at First National Bank.
Treat your savings account as an emergency fund. ‘An emergency fund is a savings account with enough money to cover five to six months of your living expenses,’ says McIvor. Always remember to make sure your money is easily accessible and not subject to long notice periods, he adds.

Minimum Deposit: +R100
Risk: None
If you’re an impulse shopper, this savings plan is for you – because you can’t simply make a withdrawal when you feel like it. ‘A 32-Day notice period is required for withdrawals,’ says Human. ‘The interest rate increases after the first 32 days, and again after 64 days, provided that there is no notice to withdraw your funds.’ So, try and keep your savings locked up – the longer you leave it in this account, the more interest you earn and the more you save.

Minimum Deposit: Between R100 and R1 000 depending on who you bank with.
Risk: Flexible Fixed Deposits – None; Inflexible Fixed Deposits – Low
While a flexible fixed deposit is similar to a 32-day call account, you are able to benefit more from interest rates with the former option. ‘The interest rate is linked to the prime lending rate and interest is calculated on a daily balance and paid monthly,’ explains Human.
Inflexible fixed deposit accounts are for those of you who are a little more serious about investing your money. You must have between R1 000 and R10 000 available before you even think of opening this account. Your money is secure, says Human. But, she advises, remember that you are not allowed to make any withdrawals or deposits within your investment term, whether it be one month or 60 months, so think carefully before choosing this option. Make sure it fits your saving needs.

Minimum Deposit: + R10 000
Risk: Low
As with fixed deposit accounts, money market accounts can be flexible or inflexible, however both options will generally allow you immediate access to your money, so there won’t be any worries about getting your hands on your savings if desperate times arise.

McIvor points out some important facts to remember when you start putting your money away.
• All the accounts except general savings require a monthly amount be deposited – depending on your bank, the amount you choose to deposit each month is your choice.
• Once again, aim to save at least 10% of your nett salary.
• Remember these two words: Compound Interest. ‘If you start saving today, you will start earning interest immediately. Next month, your savings will be more and you will earn interest on that interest every month. Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.’
• Take inflation into account when you’re saving. ‘The amount of money you save every month should increase by at least the inflation rate in order to ensure that your savings grow at a steady pace.’
• When you receive lump sums, save before spending.
• Have a conservative spending plan and identify the unnecessary expenses. Don’t buy two pairs of shoes if you can’t afford them… no matter how much you want to add them to your wardrobe!
• To keep yourself in check, have the amount of money you want to save deducted automatically from the account in which your salary is paid. While you might be able to rely on yourself most of the time, a debit order is probably a good idea when sale season starts to loom. ]]>
Fri, 05 Mar 2010 12:00 +0200
Your Spending Style How To Be A Financial Goddess (Hodder & Stoughton). ‘Whether we like to admit it or not, we often link how much we earn with how successful we are. Therefore, for many of us, the more we can afford to spend – whether we decide to splash out on a designer dress or hoard the cash away – the higher our self-esteem. However, money doesn’t have to be a weapon you use to improve your happiness. Spend and save in a realistic way and you’ll also feel happier about life.’

To find out your spending style, answer these questions, then follow Talati’s advice for getting a healthier bank balance and state of mind.

 Twice – in total. You’re busy. But just owning a membership card makes you feel fitter.
 Every day for the first two weeks. And about once since then.
 Three times a week. You’d like to go more, but at least it’s a realistic aim.
 A few times before you cancelled your membership. It’s cheaper to cycle to work or go running at lunch time.

 Pay just for what you ate.
 Take charge and divide it up fairly, including a tip.
 Go along with everyone else. Even though you only had a main course, however the others decide to split the bill will be fine with you.
 Pay an equal share – but wish you hadn’t pushed everyone into ordering that fourth bottle of wine.

 Pour her a large glass of chardonnay and lend her an ear until she feels better.
 Buy her dinner and some spoil-yourself cocktails.
 Organise a girls’ night out. The last thing she needs is to sit around the house moping.
 Remind her that it’s the first week of a break-up that hurts the most – she’ll feel much better by Monday and then you can go out dancing.

 A jumble sale! It’s packed to the rafters. Highlights include six pairs of jeans, five of this season’s sparkliest tops and a couple of posh dresses you haven’t had a chance to wear yet. (There just aren’t enough parties in the world.)
 Classics that never go out of fashion. In fact, you can’t remember the last time you bought a new top.
 A neatly organised capsule wardrobe: crisp white shirts, tailored black trousers and some trendy accessories that will update your look.
 Mostly chain-store stuff. And a pair of designer shoes that cost so much you haven’t had the courage to wear them out of the house yet.

 Pretty methodically – from front to back.
 You dive straight into the fashion pages – you love to think about what you’ll be buying this month.
 Irma Kurtz and the real-life stories interest you most.
 You immediately look for the big features that really grab your attention, before reading all the other bits.

 A card and some flowers. They never expect to get a massive present from their children anyway.
 A night for two at a smart hotel. They deserve it.
 You thought about getting them a weekend trip back to the spot where your dad proposed – but ended up buying them a photo of it from e-Bay instead.
 You went halves with your brother on a fancy, romantic meal for them at their favourite restaurant.

 Book it anyway and put it on a credit card – you can always deal with it later.
 Agree, then get depressed when you realise you won’t be able to afford any new clothes for the next three months.
 Suggest you go for the trip next year instead. That way you will both have time to save – and can do it in style.
 Ask if he fancies a week in Mpumalanga instead. It’s cheaper and there is more wildlife there than in the Caribbean.

 This morning. You check it daily on the Internet.
 Yesterday, to make sure your cellphone service provider hadn’t taken out more than it should have.
 Last Monday, after you went a bit mad over the weekend.
 A few weeks ago – you only like taking a look when you know you’ve been paid!


Mostly Blue: The Fantasist
You’re a financial fantasist who spends what you don’t have and ignores your bank statements. Friends may envy your live-for-the-moment attitude, but you could find yourself in debt if you don’t check your spending habits now. You think your bank statements will confirm you can’t have the lifestyle you deserve, but you can – as long as you make some compromises every day. So take a deep breath and set yourself a realistic weekly spending budget. If it’s R500, take that amount out in cash each Sunday night, then hide your cards away. After three weeks you’ll realise that what you save by eating breakfast at home (instead of in a coffee shop on the way to work) can be used to buy a sexy new top. Good luck!

Mostly Pink: The Planner
As a planner, you know to the cent how much is in your bank account, your bills are always paid on time and you even file your receipts. You never spend what you can’t afford, so your financial future is looking about as sunny as that fortnight in Mauritius you’re going on (thanks to that R200-a-week holiday account). However, such perfectionism does show that you’re a bit of a control freak. If you’re not careful, you could drive less-organised friends mad, so don’t preach at them when they only have R20 left the week before payday. And why not take a risk every now and then? Letting go can be liberating. Next time you plan a girls’ night out, let someone else take charge. What do you have to lose?

Mostly Purple: The Guilt-Tripper
As a guilt-tripper, you buy things you don’t need, panic, then take them back. You love the buzz of blowing cash on something lavish, then realise your money would be better spent on rent. Keep a spending diary for two weeks, where you write down every purchase you make, along with the emotion you felt at the time and your mood after the spending high has died down. You’ll soon see that you put yourself on an unnecessary emotional roller coaster. You could enlist a friend to be your ‘money mentor’. The next time you insist on splurging, talk to her about why you’re doing it. Reward yourself by having a monthly treat day in your diary, which you save for, then buy something you really want.

Mostly Green: The Hoarder
You’re very tight with your money. On the upside, you’re never in a financial squeeze. However, the fact that you leave the bar just as it’s your turn to get a round probably annoys the hell out of your friends. (Oh yes – it has been noticed.) More importantly, your stingy attitude means you’re not being fair to yourself – you never treat yourself because you don’t think you’re worth it. You need to realise it’s okay to enjoy your earnings. Put aside a sum you can afford each week – this is your ‘me’ money. You must spend it all on yourself before the next Monday morning. Have a manicure or start a new hobby – creative writing, ballroom dancing or pottery. You’ll discover that money can bring fun – and no, it won’t hurt. ]]>
Wed, 03 Feb 2010 12:00 +0200
Money For (Virtually) Nothing
to get rid of your New Kids On The Block memorabilia collection (tapes, albums, CDs, posters and ticket stubs) before your Kings of Leon-loving new man sees it. Next, turf out dodgy fashion – fuchsia Madonna sandals and baseball jackets won’t be making a comeback – and furniture that’s past it.
HOW? Open a seller’s account on a site such as (SA) or eBay (US or UK), pay the fees, then list your stuff for sale – and don’t worry, you don’t have to use your real name.
WHY? There’s a huge market for antiques of the future, so you can get rid of junk and make money by flogging stuff online.
HOW MUCH? By selling one great item a month for R500, you can make R6 000 in a year.

to be a voyeur deep down. But if your sex life isn’t all heavy breathing and fluffy handcuffs, let your dirty mind out to play without sacrificing your reputation.
HOW? Go to and click on ‘Contact us/work for us‚’ or visit to find out how to submit your sexploits.
WHY? After devouring our sex features, create a few steamy scenes of your own – with or without accessories such as a crotchless PVC catsuit. You’ll never get such a good opportunity to brag about your bedside manner – and get paid for sharing.
HOW MUCH? For a 500-word true sex confession in the UK’s Scarlet magazine, you’ll earn £50 (about R675), while a 1 000-word erotic-fiction story pays £100 (about R1 350). So if you write one erotic-fiction story or true confession a month – and it’s accepted – you could earn between R8100 and R16 200 in a year. Bring on those designer shoes!

a house that’s gorgeous enough to make Wentworth Miller beg to stay the night. Ideally, you should own it – otherwise you’ll end up forking over more than half your profits to a landlord.
HOW? Mail-bomb art directors, shoot coordinators or fashion editors at your favourite magazines, punting your home as the hottest location this side of Hollywood. Make sure you attach some good snaps of your home so they get a feel for the place. If they don’t call immediately, chase them – this is one instance where nagging might pay off.
WHY? Magazine spreads, TV ads and movies need to be shot somewhere, and SA is the new international flavour du jour.
HOW MUCH? Small, trendy properties start at R1 500 a day, so you could earn R7 500 for a five-day shoot, which you could save towards that overseas trip you’ve been lusting after. Medium-sized homes can go for R5 000 a day and if your home is massive and designer-glam, you can charge R10 000 a day. (Of course, if you’re living in a house like this, you probably don’t need the spare cash!) Shoots vary in length, so check this upfront.

to have a blog on, for example, or Get it to work for you allowing people to place advertisements on your blog.
HOW? AdSense is Google’s advertising service that lets you put ads on your blog to help you make money every time someone clicks on your ad. To find out more – it’s complicated – go to the Google home page, click on ‘Advertising programs’ and navigate from there, or visit
WHY? If you’re going to be blogging online anyway, you may as well make some money out of it.
HOW MUCH? Your earnings are calculated on a cost-per-click basis and you can earn between US 2c and $1 (about 14c and R7) a click. If 100 people see your blog every day for a year, you’ll rake in at least R5 100. ]]>
Wed, 20 Jan 2010 12:00 +0200
Step Away From The Bargain!
Planning is everything
Sales only really save you money if you were going to buy the items anyway. ‘So stock up on birthday presents or things you’ve been hankering after recently, but couldn’t afford. That way you’ll save a fortune over 2010,’ says Allen. To remain focused, make a list of friends’ birthdays and what you’d like to give them. OK, so it sounds a bit tragic, but the money you save can be spent on treats for you or (if you’re feeling generous) a bottle of wine for them.

Admit it – you can’t help yourself
The first step towards dealing with addiction is acknowledging you have a problem. ‘If you know you couldn't walk past a bargain bin without dipping in if your life depended on it – firstly, admit it; and secondly, plan for it by taking out the cash that you can afford to blow,’ advises Allen. Leave your credit and debit cards at home, so that even if you have an ‘I can’t believe it’s that cheap!’ moment, there’s no way you can buy it on the spot.

Pick your shopping buddy carefully
‘It helps to take a sensible friend on a shopping trip – someone who will keep you in check, rather than one of those people who can be relied on to encourage you to spend,’ says Allen. ‘Alternatively, decide how long you’re going to shop for, and set your cellphone alarm to remind you when it’s time to go home.’ If your friends are even worse than you are, drastic action must be taken. ‘Wear really high heels!’ says Allen. ‘There’s nothing like tottering around the sales for hours on end in killer heels to make you want to go home early. Believe me, this works.’ ]]>
Tue, 05 Jan 2010 12:00 +0200
Motoring Money-Savers SERVICE IT REGULARLY
Service your car regularly – a vehicle that is running properly is more economical, there is less chance of it breaking down and it can also save your life. You don’t want a safety-critical item to fail.


Check your tyre pressure regularly. If you overinflate your tyres, they could burst. Underinflation, on the other hand, could cause handling problems. Plus, the wrong tyre pressure makes your car thirstier, as it affects fuel consumption by as much as 20% to 30%.

You can spend a small fortune on parking every month. Instead of parking in that very expensive car park, why not park down the road? You’ll save money while getting fit.

Regular maintenance can be expensive. So, when buying a new car, ensure that it comes with a maintenance plan. A service plan is also a bonus but not as valuable, as it will only cover scheduled service items. A maintenance plan covers anything and everything that could go wrong. Read the fine print carefully – some manufacturers claim to offer a maintenance plan but it’s actually a service plan. Also, be aware of the exclusions on the plan.

You wouldn’t wash your face with dishwashing liquid, would you? So treat your car the same way. Only use proper car-wash products that won’t scratch or damage your car’s paintwork. And don’t use a dirty rag – the grit on the rag could cause costly scratches.

No-one enjoys forking out at the petrol station. Plus, excessive fuel usage isn’t great for the environment. So control your fuel costs by driving as economically as possible. Start by planning your journeys, thereby avoiding wasted trips. Once in the car close the windows (open windows create drag) and exert as little pressure on the accelerator as possible. You are not in a street race, so there really is no need to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in a couple of seconds. On the road, anticipate stops and slow down well in advance.

Speeding is bad on a number of counts. It’s dangerous, it wastes fuel, it’s stressful (there’s no way you can relax at 200km/h) and it can result in extremely costly speeding tickets. So give it a miss.

Diesel-powered cars used to be as smelly and smoky as tractors. But today they are highly refined, almost as quiet as their petrol counterparts and extremely kind to the environment. Tremendous advances have been made within the field of diesel technology since Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine back in the 1890s. They are much, much more economical – you can slash your fuel bill by 20% to 30% by using diesel.

Used cars represent tremendous value for money. Shop around and you will find that, when you buy a used car instead of a new one, you can save thousands of rands.

When buying a car, don’t trade in your old vehicle. Instead, sell your jaded set of wheels yourself. The dealer will offer you a bargain-basement price for your old car, as he wants to make a profit when he sells it.

Finally, if you’re serious about saving money, only ever drive silver cars. According to the British Medical Journal, silver cars are 50% less likely to be involved in accidents than cars of another colour – and this will definitely save you money. It’s not clear exactly why silver cars aren’t involved in more accidents. The journal reckons it has something to do with colour and reflectivity. But hey, if it works, who cares? ]]>
Wed, 23 Dec 2009 12:00 +0200
Phishing, Smishing
'As is the case with phishing e-mails,' says SABRIC CEO, Kalyani Pillay, 'Text messages are randomly sent to cell phone users, and the information provided by unsuspecting bank clients who respond to these text messages is used to defraud them.'

The SMSes will generally demand you to send or update your one-time banking passwords.

'It's all part of social engineering,' says Pillay. 'The SMSes that we are seeing all seem to seek to pressurise customers to act in haste by creating some or other emergency.'

Many people are falling prey to smishing, as it's easy to panic when you think your details have been changed without your knowledge. You may want to call the number to see what's going on, but don't.

'What the unsuspecting bank client is not aware of is that the person on the other end of the line is not a bank official, but a fraudster wanting to steal their personal information,' says Pillay. 'You should contact your bank immediately if you are uncertain about how to respond to any message you receive via any communication channels that claim to be from your bank.'

Whatever you do, don't hand your password, PIN number or bank card details over the phone, whether you're speaking to someone directly or via SMS.

'If there is a need to contact your bank when you receive a message, only do so using the telephone numbers given to you when you opened your bank account or go to your nearest branch,' adds Pillay.

Here are a few tips from SABRIC to make sure you avoid smishing scams:
• Never respond to SMSes that appear to be from your bank and request your personal details. No bank will ever ask you to confirm or update your account details via SMS.
• Never provide your online banking username or password, even if the SMS claims to be from your bank or the SAPS.
• Never write down your online banking details or save them on your computer.
• Only provide your credit card details to reputable companies.
• Place sensible transaction limits on your accounts.
• Change your banking PIN number regularly.

Fri, 20 Nov 2009 12:00 +0200
On File
'eFiling as a channel has grown from 40 000 persons submitting in the early years to currently around 2 million thus far this year,' says Mark Kingon, the SARS Group Executive of Business Systems. 'In many instances taxpayers are experiencing a 24-hour turnaround time from the date of the filing until the date of assessment.

'eFiling empowers the taxpayer to take ownership of their returns, enabling quicker turnaround times on submitting of supported documents, disputes and requesting statements of accounts.'

eFiling is extremely easy and uncomplicated, says Gareth Davies, a financial planning specialist at Private Client Holdings. 'SARS has uploaded every IRP5 for you, so if your tax is simple and straightforward, it shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes.' Davies does however recommend a professional tax consultant for individuals with a complicated tax structure.

Follow these steps and filing your tax return online shouldn't be too much of a hassle.

Step 1: Navigate to and hit the register button. Have your tax reference number, ID number and bank account details handy.
Step 2: After you've chosen and received your username and password, log in to eFiling.
Step 3: Make your way to the Income Tax Work Page, and click on ITR12 to open your tax return.
Step 4: Once on the ITR12 page, fill in the short questionnaire and click 'Create Form'.
Step 5: You will now see a sheet containing all your information, minus your street address. After you've filled in your address and checked that your personal details are correct, check that your IRP5 employee information is correct (the information is supplied by your employer to SARS).
Step 6: Save your return by clicking 'Save Online' and go back to the Income Tax Work Page. Click on 'Tax Calculator' and confirm your tax return's accuracy.
Step 7: Click 'File' and you're done!

While these seven steps should get you through filing your return without any hitches, if you do have problems, contact the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 SARS (7277) between 8am and 5pm on weekdays.

TIP: Make sure you don't find yourself lumbered with any nasty surprises by being aware of this loophole: If you have two or more income streams, warns Davies, they add up, which pushes you into a higher tax bracket. 'Income is income, whether you have one job or 20.' Be aware that you may not be paying the sufficient amount of tax.

The deadline for submissions of electronic returns is 20 November, so make a note. You don't want the taxman at your door. ]]>
Thu, 05 Nov 2009 12:00 +0200
Buying VS Leasing
In simple terms, an instalment agreement refers to paying your car off every month over a certain period of time, usually between 24 and 72 months depending on your bank. Once you've found the car you want to buy, your bank will pay the dealership the full amount and you will then repay the bank in instalments. According to Rudi Pretorius, senior manager for Nedbank Vehicle Asset Finance, you can choose whether or not you want to make use of a balloon payment. If you opt for a balloon payment, it will lower your monthly instalments but you will have to pay a lump sum at the end of the agreed repayment period.

An instalment agreement is perfect for you if you want to eventually end up owning the car, says Pretorius. There are no cons to this option, adds Pretorius, and is the preferred finance option for private individuals.

The down low: Once you have paid the full amount to the bank, the car is all yours. You can also trade the car in for something else, or, says Pretorius, 'if you decide to sell the car, you will enjoy the full benefit of the proceeds.'

'A lease agreement is ideal for private individuals who don't want to own the vehicle and want to use the car for an agreed period of time,' says Pretorius.

Leasing a car works similarly to an instalment agreement, but the car won't automatically be yours once you've made all of your monthly payments, says Pretorius. The bank will continue to own the car, unless you extend the lease, cough up a balloon payment at the end of the given period (after which you will then own the car), or give the car back to the bank.

The down low: You don't have to own the car if you don't want to… it's completely up to you whether you choose the keep it or not. You can change cars quicker than with a lease agreement, but you have to sign with the same dealership.

Payment Holiday: Some banks have a payment holiday option, allowing you miss a monthly payment if you're struggling to make ends meet.
Fixed Interest: Check if your bank offers you a fixed interest rate. This means your payments will stay the same for the full payment period and won't fluctuate as they would do under market-related interest rates. ]]>
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 12:00 +0200
How Far Would You Go For Money?
'I'd make more in a month than my father,' she gasped. She'd reached the agency entrance next day when the reality hit her: the tacky sign, the kitsch cupid fountain, the balding guy with bad teeth grinning as he pushed past her. 'It could just never be worth it,' she told us when she slunk back. It may be relatively easy to turn down a job as obviously dodgy as this, however tempting the money. But today many options come in shades of grey. So your mother may not approve, and some friends may raise eyebrows, but should that stop you? Read on before ruling them out – or rushing to sign up.

KITTY*, 25, Thai-Massage Therapist

'I was waitressing and studying alternative thera¬pies when curiosity made me go with a girlfriend to Teazers four years ago. I was surprised and impressed by the stylish professionalism of the place – and the pay potential! I found myself asking if I could have a go, and being handed this skimpy costume. I'd been a skinny kid and lacked confidence, and my first dance was totally terrifying – even before I dropped my G-string. Then I saw that guys fancied me and I began enjoying myself. You may be naked, but you're to-tally in control. It's cool for self-esteem, and teaches you to read people – I can tell immediately which guy will book me for a pole or lap dance, and focus on him. Some day I'm going to channel all this into running my own alternative-therapy studio. The dancing's also great for your body, by the way – I've developed muscles of steel!'
REQUIREMENTS Well-proportioned body, ability to move 'with rhythm and enthusi¬asm', says Kitty (formal dance training unnecessary), and an open mind.
RISKS Occasional groping from overexcit¬ed patrons, but reputable establishments forbid men from touching you (or permit minimal contact only), and monitor this with security cameras in any private cubicles.
RATIO OF PAIN TO GAIN Physically tiring; long, antisocial hours (often 12.30pm to 1.30am).
RANDS For someone with no experience the pay rate begins at R5 000, but the average within the industry is from R15 000/month. The going minimum is R350 for a lap dance and R200 for a table dance.

LYNETTE*, 22, Postgraduate Science Student

'I first learnt of the possibility of donating eggs last year, when friends saw posters put up on the UCT campus by a US-¬based agency. We checked it out and established the eggs would be used to help infertile couples from overseas, who choose donors from data published on a website. Once they've selected a donor, they write in giving the reasons they want a child so badly. Hearing their stories and realising how much they wanted children convinced me it was worth donating eggs. As in most medical undertakings there are risks, which were explained to me on signing up [see below]. You need two weeks of daily hormone injections to ensure you're ovulating in sync with the recipient mother. My own mother gave me the first shots and I quickly learnt to do the rest myself. On the day of donation, you're sedated and a small tube is inserted through your cervix, guided by ultrasound, to suck up four to six eggs. Two are fertilised in vitro and implanted in the mother's uterus, in case one isn't viable. The rest are frozen for possible future use, though there's only a 20% chance these will be viable. I've chosen not to know if the recipient mother was successful in her pregnancy, though this is allowed. [The South African Human Tissue Act does, however, forbid contact between donor and recipient.] I'd like to think she was. When people ask me if it's strange that I may have a baby somewhere out there, I say that genetics is only part of the makeup of a child. To me, that child belongs to the family into which it was born – I only provided them with the potential to create it. I've donated only once but I'd definitely do it again.'
REQUIREMENTS Egg donors should be aged between 21 and 31 (based on medi¬cal studies on egg viability), educated and healthy. Lynette had a blood test for STDs and HIV/Aids, a gynaecological checkup, and a test by a private psychologist.
RISKS Around 2,5% of egg donors get 'overstimulation syndrome', a metabolic fluid imbalance. This can be easily treated, but may become life-threatening if donating monthly for more than four months. Fewer than 2% of donors develop sepsis and risk becoming infertile. Some research suggests that Clomid, a drug used to induce ovulation, could be dangerous for women with genetic susceptibilities to ovarian cancer. This applies mainly to infertile women placed on high doses of hormones for long periods. Egg donors are placed on very low doses for about 10 days. There are other risks: the trading of genetic material for financial gain is illegal. You, the agency and others involved could be prosecuted if you're paid more than reasonable reimbursement for loss of income, hospital visits, medication and other genuine expenses.
RATIO OF PAIN TO GAIN Daily injections may put you off and hormone treatment may affect your moods. There's some controversy around the issue, but the procedure itself is painless – 'much like a gynae exam,' says Lynette.
RANDS The Southern African Society for Reproductive Science and Surgery puts acceptable payments at R6 000, but every clinic decides for itself and some pay up to R10 000.

TANA BENZON, 29, Artist

'I have a fine-arts degree, but that doesn't bring you money, so four years ago I offered to model for fine-art and graphics classes at the Durban Institute of Technology. I knew what was involved, but it was nerve-rack¬ing at first. I've learnt to depersonalise the experience by not making eye contact with individuals and treating the class as one big creative organism. I see my body as just a vessel – my personality is my sacred space. I try to project love or compassion to inspire students, and that's as rewarding as the pay. I love being part of the creative process.'
REQUIREMENTS Confidence and the discipline to keep still for up to 90 minutes, but no special body type. Arts qualifications are an advantage, as you understand better what students are looking for.
RISKS Catching cold or cramping, but good studios supply heaters and cushions; occasional titters from nervous new students, 'but responsible lecturers demand that they respect models,' says Tana.
RATIO OF PAIN TO GAIN Surprisingly hard work – expect both bodily and mental numbness unless you've got a rich internal life.
RANDS Around R55 an hour, for up to six hours a day.

TAZNIEM*, 23, Sales Assistant

'A friend and I began throwing parties after a request from a customer at Score Adult Gift Shop in Durban where we work. You can't be inhibited, but it's fun, especially for girls-only parties. We buy stocks at wholesale prices and make our money from a mark-up, but we also charge a R120 fee in case nobody buys. That's never happened! We take free gifts of a chocolate penis for each guest to warm them up, and organise games like pass the vibrator – ¬whoever's holding it when the music stops must do something funny – but not sordid – with it. If guests want us to, we demonstrate how Roger Rabbit or Dan¬ny Dolphin works with a silicone vagina, show them crotch less panties and dildos and talk about lubri¬cants. But we don't undress – we're denim and tackies girls.'
REQUIREMENTS An open mind, out¬going personality and some capital for stock.
RISKS Beware stag parties – mixed or all-girl ones can get wild, but seldom nasty, says Tazniem. Trust your instincts and arrange telephonic safety checks with a friend, as well as backup help.
RATIO OF PAIN TO GAIN 'Once you've relaxed the crowd, it can be a hoot.'
RANDS About R500 a night, depending on sales.

ILSE FOURIE, 28, Branch Manager
'I was a sales assistant in a pharmacy until I saw a more promising position advertised – at Doves Funerals. I thought it would be cold and creepy, but it was a warm, calm, clean, reassuring place that demystified death for me. Early on I was asked to look in on a deceased who'd been prepared for viewing by the family, to be sure they'd be happy. I was so impressed by the dignity and respect given to the deceased, and the care and concern for relatives; I knew I wanted to be a part of this process. As a funeral-parlour assistant, you do removals (collecting bodies) and prepare and 'coffin' the deceased for the funeral. You're shown how to do basic makeup and hair so they look natural. [Reconstructive makeup for trauma victims and embalming require specialist, long-term training.] You also help at funerals. Dealing with families can be difficult, as everyone reacts differently to death. You're trained to stay calm and show empathy. It's tremendous life experience. After two years with Doves in Port Shepstone, I was promoted to manager. This has become not just a job, but a calling. It's very rewarding.'
REQUIREMENTS Driver's licence, matric certificate, calm personality and good people skills.
RISKS Emotional burnout and back injury. Negligence with health procedures could expose you to dangerous diseases.
RATIO OF PAIN TO GAIN 'Helping others to make closure is as inspiring as it's demanding,' says Ilse. Hours are erratic – you're often on 24-hour call for removals.
RANDS From around R3 500 a month.

*Names have been changed. ]]>
Thu, 08 Oct 2009 12:00 +0200
Tipping Point
To help give you an idea of what's considered the norm, we spoke to those concerned to find out how much they normally get tipped.

Imraan Salie*, 24, who works as a porter at the swish One & Only Hotel in Cape Town, says, 'It differs. Some locals don't tip at all, while others tip more than the foreigners! To work out an estimate is difficult, but I'm generally tipped between $5 and $10 (R38 and R77).'

Louise Jacobs*, a shampooist working at an independent hair salon in Cape Town, says an average tip is R5. 'Some clients still give R1 or R2 and think it's okay, but I think R10 is actually more appropriate in today's climate.'

James Wilson*, 21, who works for Butler's Pizza, says, 'I get tipped an average of R10 per delivery. I think I should be tipped 10% of the bill, so sometimes that R10 is more, sometimes it's less. But seeing as I drive through traffic to deliver to them, I think I should always get 10%.'

'I get about R40 in tips per day,' says 38-year-old Engen petrol attendant, Winston Ntshongwana. 'People normally give me R2 on average.'

'People normally give me between R2 and R5,' says 30-year-old Gladman Ngoko*, who works in Durban's upmarket beach town, Umhlanga Rocks. 'Sometimes they just run in and then they tip me R2. I don't normally get more than R5.'

According to Lorenzo Giovanni, 23, bar manager at FTV Sandton, 'Normally, barman will get 10% of any bill, but it works differently according to whether they are serving regulars or not. Regulars normally go to a specific barman each time, and will be tipped well, where as if they go to any other barman, the tip will average between R5 and R20. If there is a tab running, the tip will normally be much more.'

A few tips from the bean counter…
Gareth Davies, a financial planning specialist at Private Client Holdings, says:
'Most of the time, you don't even know if the car guard is an actual car guard. I would be happy to give a genuine car guard R5 for his efforts, should I be gone for more than two hours. If I just need to pop in and out of a store, I would consider R2 as being fair.

Tipping a petrol attendant depends on whether you fill up or only fill half a tank of petrol. I believe 10% should not be the rule here. I think it's a question of service. If the attendant is helpful, smiles and truly makes a good impression, I think it's justified to give him or her a tip of between R10 and R20. My usual tip for checking the tires, cleaning the windscreen and filling up the tank is R5.

I usually give the pizza delivery guy 10% of the bill because I associate his services with a waiter/the hospitality industry.'

And when should you stop tipping?
'To me, everything in life is negotiable except quality,' says Davies. 'If the service is bad and the person was unfriendly or unpleasant and unhelpful, I wouldn't tip.'

* Names have been changed
Mon, 24 Aug 2009 12:00 +0200
Sale Season
But it's that time of year again – when stores literally slash their prices to get rid of their winter collections to make way for the new summer styles. Seeing all those red 'marked-down' signs makes us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, and spending during the sale season becomes dangerously easy.

We spoke to Durban-based fashion stylist, Pippa Lynch, and COSMO's fashion assistant Nathirah Isaacs, as well as Lois Eskowitz-Carter, costume designer for the Will & Grace show, for their advice on how to shop the sales wisely.

• Before venturing out, take stock of your wardrobe and decide what it is you're going to buy (and what it is you don't need). 'Tell yourself you're not going to buy anything else, even though it might be super tempting,' says Isaacs.
• Lynch agrees. 'Determine how much you'll be willing to spend, as having an idea of your budget will mean that you are a lot more careful with your purchases.' Lynch suggests making a 'shopping list' beforehand.

• Isaacs believes sticking to the essentials is the only way to go. 'Don't spend unnecessarily. If the item you want is at a good price, then by all means, buy it, but don't live above your means. You can still look stylish at the lowest prices.'
• Make sure everything you buy is the right size and suits your body shape and colour palette, suggests Lynch. Don't get caught up in the frenzy and only buy items you actually need.
• 'Invest in standbys like black pants, a good purse and classic pumps, and spend less on trendier items,' Eskowitz-Carter advises.

• 'Never buy clothing you wouldn't have bought if they weren't on sale,' Lynch warns wisely. 'Buying trendy pieces at a cheaper price doesn't make them any more trendy.'
• Don't buy anything that doesn't meet your usually high standards. You wouldn't buy an item that was torn, scuffed or stained if it wasn't on the sale, so why buy it now, Lynch asks.
• Isaacs agrees and suggests you stay away from irrelevant and unnecessary items. Let's face it: balloon banana pants won't always be a fashion-must.

Thoughts of shoes, coats, skinnies, tops, jackets, dresses, skirts, accessories, etc. etc. etc. can cloud your thoughts, making you forget you still need to buy groceries for the rest of the month. 'Remain calm!' warns Isaacs.
'Don't behave like a crazed shopaholic, rather act like a woman on a mission; have your shopping list ready and stick to it,' Lynch advises.

We've all come home with a polka-dot dress and 6-inch stilettos we had the best intentions of wearing – but in truth, they've never seen anything other than the insides of our wardrobes. Lynch says there are a few ways you can limit the damage when you come home with a stray:
• If you decide you don't like the colour and it doesn't match anything else in your wardrobe, dye it.
• Speak to a tailor. Whether you'd like to make a maxi dress shorter, add lace to a skirt or turn the trousers into shorts, there's always an option.
• As an extreme, last resort, sell the item to a second-hand clothing dealer and get a small percentage of your money back.
Wed, 12 Aug 2009 12:00 +0200
Know His Money Habits
Q1: 'Do you have a budget?'
Having a budget means he knows how to plan for the future. It also means there's less chance of him borrowing money from you near the end of the month when his bank account runs dry, and an even less chance of you becoming resentful and irritated for always having to fork out extra cash around the 29th of every month. Ease him into the conversation by talking about your budget first.
'Let your partner know that you don't find it easy to talk about money, but that it needs to be done,' says psychologist Bhamini Rugnathji. 'You don't have to talk about your salary or how much you earn, just that you have a realistic budget that works for you. Once you have talked about your budget, ask him about his.'

Q2: 'Would you lend me R400? I need to have my hair done.'
It needn't necessarily be for your hair – it could be for a birthday gift or new tyres or even a dentist's bill – but you're basically asking him to lend you money. The amount you'd want to borrow should be between 5% and 10% of his monthly income.
'His response will give you an indication of his trust in you and also his degree of stinginess,' says Fanie Pretorius, a Pretoria-based life coach. 'A stingy or overspending partner is a curse to a good relationship.'
Once you get his answer, don't actually take his money. The response is what you need to focus on, not the cash.

Q3: 'I just got my credit card bill and can't believe how much I've spent! When was the last time you went on a crazy spending spree?'
According to Johannesburg-based psychologist, Leatia Stemmet, it's important to find out how he spends his money. 'Is he a haphazard, emotional or impulsive spender and are your materialistic and associated lifestyle requirements compatible?'
It may feel great to spend, spend, spend, but if he can't control his spending splurges it may lead to future financial conflicts, says Stemmet.

Q4: Have you planned for the future?
A sound savings plan is highly recommended by many financial planners, especially during a recession. It's important to know if he has or is saving for the future, says Stemmet.
Saving isn't only limited to cash in a bank account, though. It also includes safety-net considerations such as investments, household and car insurance and medical aid.
Think carefully about getting more involved with someone who hasn't planned ahead, your financial future depends on it. ]]>
Fri, 26 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
How to Save R8 050
The global economic crisis doesn't have to affect your style. From trendy sunglasses to sexy shoes or even a cosy night in, you can spend and save at the same time.

Wayfarers are back, and while you may want to buy the original Ray Bans, you might not be able to fork out R2 200 for a pair of sunglasses. Don't be scared off by replicas; they look exactly the same and you can find them at street markets around the country or at YDE, where you'll find a pair for only R200.
What you save: R2 000

The perfect pair of skinny jeans or that crucial black cardigan you never thought you could afford might not be that difficult to own. Instead of paying R1 500 for a luxury brand, Jay Jays sell a wide range of quality fitted jeans for under R200. As for the cardigan, instead of paying R600, Mr Price stocks cardigans in all colours for only R100.
What you save: R1 300 + R500 = R1 800

At some stage we've all craved a pair of red-soled Christian Louboutin's. The black round-toe stiletto is a Louboutin classic and can set you back a hefty R3 800. Instead of placing that order, visit Aldo and you could find fabulous new high heels (even that black stiletto) for only R900.
What you save: R2 900

M.A.C's Limited Edition Hello Kitty eyeshadow range made it to our Must Have list a few weeks ago. Both sets (the toned-down daytime shades and the bright night-time colours at R330 each) cost the same as one two-shade eye palette sold by a famed French cosmetic house.
What you save: R700

Instead of going out for a romantic dinner and a movie, make your own meal at home. Then rent a DVD, create your own ambience and settle in for the night.
What you save: Dinner for two R500 + Movie & Popcorn for two R150 = R650

Fri, 15 May 2009 12:00 +0200
Mistakes of a Shopaholic
With the entire planet being squeezed by the credit crunch, everyone can identify with Isla Fischer's character, Rebecca, in Confessions of a Shopaholic. We've put together a list of financial lessons you can learn from the quirky chick flick. (WARNING: Contains movie spoilers)

Has a mannequin ever convinced you to buy a stunning green scarf even though you know you're about to be unemployed soon? Ok, maybe mannequins don't talk to you, but according to FNB Investment Product Planner, Jean Archary, when you spend money you don't actually have yet, you're spending beyond your means.

'This includes buying on credit, taking out loans for non-essential items, living lavishly and spending money on things you just can’t afford,' says Archary. A pair of shoes that originally cost R500 may, after the interest has accumulated, end up costing your R800. 'It is important to live within your means, to try and reduce your cost of living and increase your income or cash flow so that you have available funds to buy the things you want on a cash basis.’

Burying your sky-high pile of unopened bills in the darkest cupboard in your living room isn't going to make any of those statements go away. In a recent column, personal finance writer Bruce Cameron says, 'If you borrow vast amounts of money and live the high life, it will catch up with you, particularly when interest rates move up. If you have high debt and no savings, you will be caught out.' If you simply have to buy on credit, take advantage of lower interest rates.

No matter how you look at it, retail cards are credit cards, and paying your YDE account with your MasterCard is not a good idea. You may think you're being responsible by paying at least one of your bills on time, but the debt will boomerang back to you. Mickey Gambale from Momentum Wealth Investment Specialists says you're only postponing the inevitable – a debt trap that may take years to get out of.

'What might have started off small can become a much bigger problem, and when you do eventually reach your credit limits you often find that you owe a lot more than you can pay,' Gambale says.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that using more than one card makes buying those Prada sunglasses easier to pay off. If, like Rebecca, you charge R820 to your Visa, R550 to your MasterCard, R470 to your Virgin Money and R350 to your American Express cards for one item, you might not be able to keep track of all your repayments and end up paying more interest than is necessary.

'Select the card that offers you the best deal in terms of interest rate and payment terms,' says Ian Logan, marketing executive for information management specialists TransUnion. 'It is also wise to limit the number of credit cards at your disposal as you may be tempted to spend more.'

Suze Orman, personal finance expert and author of Women and Money (Hay House), says, 'If you are in credit card trouble, you must cut up all of your credit cards now, with the possible exception of one card for emergencies. And don't carry this card in your wallet!' But don't freeze it in a block of ice either. Treat your card as you would a fair-weather friend: don't trust it.

Buying a pair of Gucci boots that cost in the region of four-figures just because they've been marked down by R200 is sometimes just not worth it. 'High-end goods usually carry huge mark-up costs,' says chartered accountant and financial consultant, John Duminy. 'Make sure that what you're paying for the item is equal to the value you attach to it. Is the extra price really worth it?'

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 12:00 +0200
Shop Smart
Shopping with someone else in tow can rack up the food bill by a scary amount. Your shopping partner may 'notice' things you didn't or just have very different ideas as to what your household needs. Ultimately though, if you're paying for it, you should be responsible for what gets put in the trolley. (

It is a known fact that the most expensive goods are placed at eye level while the more reasonably-priced products are higher or lower on the shelf. Remember: A supermarket's purpose is to make money, so they'll think of any way they can make more of it. (

A big grocery faux-pas is shopping with a rumbling tummy. You will be far more likely to make unwise, impulse buys. This also applies when you're cold (because you always feel hungrier when you're cold). Make sure you're warmly wrapped up when you make your next trip to the store. (

Having only cash and no credit, discount or charge cards in your wallet instantly sets a limit on how much you're going to spend. It'll also mean you will be more thorough in separating what you want from what you need. (

It often helps to have a list that is based around a pre-set menu for the week. That way you'll know exactly what you need as well as the quantities. Also, when you write the list, try and imagine the design of the shop. You'll spend less time retracing your steps and picking up unnecessary items along the way. Fresh and dairy produce, meats and bakeries tend to be around the perimeter of the shop while frozen goods, cereal and other items are located in the centre aisles. (


Knowing what items cost allows you to make educated judgements as to whether or not something is worth buying. A couple of Rands difference on each item adds up, so it really is worth being informed. We know you can't be expected to remember comparative prices on every item, so start off with only your essentials. Over time you'll get a sense for how much is too much. (

Remember how we said a supermarket's main objective is to make money? If you look further than the items with the garish discount signs you'll find the real bargains – it could even help to take a calculator with to work out if buying the 'multi-pack' the neon sale sign above it really is better value than the discretely placed single-pack. (

Never settle for anything less than perfection. If you're not happy with the quality of a product you should always take it back and get a refund or have it replaced. (

If you find you have too many leftovers after dinner, we've found the perfect solution on Simply choose which items you have left in your fridge and this pretty cool website will list easy recipes for you to use to avoid wasting them.

Fri, 06 Feb 2009 12:00 +0200
Shameless Money Saving Tricks
Since it's the holidays you're feeling giving and your girlfriends deserve great presents. But if you buy them eye shadow, they'll need a matching lip colour, and then there's nail polish and bronzer. Here's an idea: Buy your girls the versatile DV8 [expressions] range. There are 48 shades to choose from and one shade (R120 at selected beauty salons or through their website) can be used as blusher, eye shadow or body shimmer dust, or added to clear lip gloss, nail polish and even your hair products. It's a versatile, multi-purpose product.

When you're out with the girls, the bar tab can add up. Instead, check out local wine farms for tastings. You can sip much pricier wine than you would ever pay for at restaurants, and sometimes they even serve snacks during the tastings.

Are you going on holiday with your guy and want to make it special? Try this manoeuvre that will likely get you a sweet perk: Have him check in without you, but tell him to mention to the clerk that he plans on proposing. They'll probably upgrade you for free... or at least send you a bottle of champagne.

Skip the salary-crushing night out and plan an alternative: a casual get-together for a few close friends at your place. You'll avoid blowing cash on drinks at a bar and the petrol money to get you there. Plus, if you tell your friends it's bring-your-own, you'll wind up with the bottles that weren't finished... score.

Many gyms offer free trial memberships to people who are considering joining, so take advantage of their generosity. Find a nice one in your neighbourhood, and tell them you're interested but want to make sure they have certain amenities. Then enjoy the saunas and state-of-the-art equipment for a few sessions.
Mon, 15 Dec 2008 12:00 +0200
DIY Travel
Online travel sites
These sites allow you to find, compare and book the best travel deals online: is one of the few exclusively-online travel agents in SA. The site is clean, clear and easy to navigate around local and international flight bookings from the major and low-cost airlines. They also offer hotel and care hire bookings. touts itself as the virtual travel agent for South African travellers and offers a mix of travel information and packages that are all bookable online.
Visit to research, plan, and purchase a whole trip with loads of products and services available worldwide. Expect to pay in pounds (or dollars on the .com site).
At you can book flights, accommodation and car hire for local and international destinations but it is time-consuming and confusing. Use this site as a starting point but give the agents a call once you’ve seen a package you’re interested in.

Online airlines
Domestic:;; (also flies to Zanzibar);;
International:;;;;;; – Google “airline companies” to find them all.

Usually the accommodation establishments put themselves on these websites but many of the hotels and guesthouses have customer reviews and ratings which are always useful if you want to avoid a case of “Hey, that’s not what it looked in like the photo!” A South African accommodation directory and bookings site where you can search, find and book in an easy and secure way. Not all the establishments can take online bookings but at the very least, you can email a booking enquiry through and they will confirm availability. offers good deals to those who can book late – the later you leave it, the cheaper it gets... but you risk losing the room altogether, of course. Expect to pay in foreign currency. is a good source of accommodation inspiration – no bland chain hotels or large resorts here. promises to find chic hotels at the lowest rates with independent reviews.

Car Hire These online car hire specialists provide discounted car rental in over 6000 locations in alliance with the likes of Avis, Hertz, Alamo, Budget and Europcar. does a price comparison between the big names so you don’t have to.

Other travel sites we like: Lonely Planet has launched its own travel channel on YouTube. They’ve got 27 videos online and more are being added all the time. Entertaining, short and fun, they’re a good addition to your travel research. These people trawl a mix of glossy mags, including Wallpaper, Vogue and Vanity Fair, and collate their reviews and recommendations of hip and happening hotels, restaurants and bars around the world. An urban travel blog frequently updated with information on cities that goes beyond the typical hotel and restaurant recommendations. Know where to find the best sandwich in New York... The ultimate source for airplane seating and in-flight amenities. Find the seat with extra legroom and never get stuck next the toilet again! 180 currencies updated every minute. Very efficient. Save yourself from packing your entire wardrobe and check the weather forecast ahead of your trip. Click on ‘Metric’ to convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

What to watch out for
It won’t be a cheap holiday if it’s a scam Before you book online, check the company out. Is it registered with the Association of South African Travel Agents or the International Air Transport Association? Is the booking site secure and have you read the terms and conditions? Is there a contact telephone number that actually gets answered?
Watch out for fish bait holiday prices Make sure the price you see, is the price you’re going to pay. Find out about airport taxes, on-board meals, travel insurance.
Online travel can be seductive It’s chilly. You’re bored. You click on a promo urging you to “Soak up the sun”. Which you do with a click and your credit card details. You didn’t even shop around for better deals, never mind check out the legitimacy of the company or whether your leave will be approved for that time. Read the Terms and Conditions - it’s often more difficult to change your bookings online.
Spot a fake review Be suspicious of brochure-speak and industry jargon: My boyfriend and I enjoyed the relaxed elegance of the accommodations; and unnecessary name-dropping: We couldn’t believe the Jo Malone products in the designer bathroom.
Thu, 31 Jul 2008 12:00 +0200
Stay Out Of Debt * Know your spending style – if you’re not disciplined, don’t have credit cards and don’t get an overdraft facility unless it’s imperative (for example for a car or house).
* Be honest about all your debt and financial obligations when you apply for credit.
* Shop around for the best credit deal. ‘Get quotes – it’s compulsory under the new act that providers give you one before you get credit – and compare the different cost items,’ says the National Credit Regulator’s Marlene Heymans.
* Compare interest rates, initiation fee and monthly service fees, she says, ‘and, very importantly, the cost of credit insurance if applicable. This can be expensive. Investigate products other than the one on offer by the credit provider.’
* Know that the amount of insurance may not exceed the full replacement value of a property or the outstanding amount on a vehicle agreement, says Wilken. ‘And where the credit provider arranges your insurance, they may not charge an additional amount above the actual cost of the insurance.’
* Read any agreement or contract carefully, and think it through thoroughly before you sign.
* Put down as big a deposit on car- and house-finance transactions as possible.
* Pay more than the minimum instalment required. ‘Some credit-card companies tested have shown that by only paying the minimum amount stipulated, it can take more than five years to pay off debt,’ says Heymans.
* Remember, plastic money is still money – don’t be tempted to overspend.
* Always read statements to keep track of what you owe.
* Make your repayments religiously.
Tue, 03 Jun 2008 12:00 +0200
Friends, Indebted
‘I can’t tell you how many friendships are broken over money, often derisory amounts,’ says Chris Brusschau, senior manager at Standard Bank Financial Consultancy. The issue of lending money is particularly fraught, because people are afraid of offending friends by asking questions when asked for a loan, or formalising it, say he and ABSA group spokesman Errol Smith. But you end up losing friends far more acrimoniously when you don’t.


1 BE CAUTIOUS Ask yourself why, says Suze Orman, author of The Laws of Money, the Lessons of Life (Free Press). Why do they need it? And why ask you? It’s one thing if they’ve had a health crisis or lost their job, but another entirely if they’ve overspent (again!), want money for a holiday, or to start a business (the riskiest loan of all). If they can’t get money from a conventional source such as a bank, be wary.

‘If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t lend it,’ says ABSA spokesman Errol Smith. Simply say you’d love to help, but you don’t have that kind of cash. You’re not saying you won’t lend it, just that your circumstances prohibit it. Alternatively, make the gesture by offering a small sum towards what they need. You can also suggest ways to help – draw up a budget with them, or introduce them to a good adviser.

3 PUT IT ON PAPER For big loans, have a lawyer draw up a contract (which can be expensive), but you can also buy acknowledgement of debt forms at stationers, or draw one up yourself, and preferably have it witnessed. Include the amount of the loan, the repayment period, the terms (full amount by a certain date, or installments?) Don’t forget to include interest.

You’ll also need to declare interest-earned to the taxman, says Standard Bank’s Chris Brusschau, but under age 65, you’re allowed interest in total, from any source, of up to R16 500. If you put down the loan as a donation, you’re exempt from tax on up to R50 000 a year.

4 TAKE THE INITIATIVE It’s up to the lender to take protective measures and see there’s a written agreement, says Brusschau: ‘When a bank lends, they don’t expect you to come forward and offer them a repayment deal!’ But Orman believes the borrower should ‘tell you right off the bat that they want to sign a formal loan document. That’s a sign that they respect not just you, but the importance of what they’re asking you to do.’ If you have to ask for a contract, it should sound an alarm.

5 STICK TO THE SCHEDULE Have repayments made directly from the friend’s bank account into yours, to lessen the risk of anyone getting forgetful and straining your friendship.

6 DON’T MEDDLE Once you’ve made the loan, don’t pry into their financial progress – asking you for money was probably difficult enough.

or sign surety for someone else. This can be more risky than losing the money, warn the experts, as it can hurt your credit history.
Fri, 30 May 2008 12:00 +0200