Inventory for your home

Inventory for your home 2

Inventory is not just for businesses.

From the experience of helping my late father pack up his office building and helping and watching my mother pack up her house after 45 years, I know you can’t pack up home in just one week.

Just recently in my street, an elderly gentleman died, the house was sitting empty for just one week. Thieves moved in silently and emptied it of everything, including the doors, bathroom fixtures and corrugated roofing!

Inventory for your home 3
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

It reminded me to stop paying lip service to take an inventory of what we own. Closer to home we discovered only after it stopped working that one of our children’s cell phones wasn’t listed on the insurance premium.

Do you know what you have?

What would have happened if it had been a bigger ticket item? Taking an inventory of the contents of your home is vital.

While the need to keep the cost of your insurance premium down is important to your managing to live within a budget, it is also important not to undervalue the contents of your home.

We have an extremely large house and two ‘collectors’ of things! Taking an inventory is a nightmare that I keep putting off.

I do have an old list from 2 years ago, so it shouldn’t be as difficult as the first inventory I did.

Keeping up with your inventory

The ideal is to do your first inventory and then whenever you get something new, you add it to the inventory. Whenever something leaves your house for whatever reason, it should come off your inventory list.

This is easier said than done. The reality is we forget, in a disposable world, we change and add or remove from our homes with great frequency.

In a recent house fire close to my home, a group of people lost everything!  The house, unfortunately, was home to around 32 people, asylum seekers from other African countries. It brought home the reality of what would happen if we weren’t insured and are we underinsured just to save money on premiums?

Yes, we are in an extremely tight budget but how much worse would it be if because of that we were unable to replace even the most basic of essentials.

We can’t put a value on the sentimentality of items, like my 3 hand embroidered table cloths or the 1960’s walnut bookshelf/cupboard unit that I got when my parents moved home. However, replacing a tablecloth that will fit my 16 seater dining table would come at a huge cost, replacing that wall unit with something the same size would be impossible if it isn’t listed on the insurance policy.

How do you put a value on the contents of your home?

For instance, our lounge suite, which we bought 23 years ago is massive, oversized and solid oak with a 3 seater couch that a fully grown adult can (and does) lie down on, a large 2 seater and a single armchair, plus the 2 side tables and coffee table. When we bought it at the time it was extremely expensive but times were less financially tough in those days.

To have it insured at its current value would make our insurance premium too expensive, I looked through online catalogues to find something that I would like to have in my home and use that value to get a number for my household cover.

Look around your home, what furniture would you need to replace in a disaster? What about linens and towels? How about your clothing, storage and shelving, curtains and for me personally the most important room in the house, the kitchen?

I have almost every kitchen convenience available, what would be the cost to replace my beloved Thermomix?

Inventory for your home 4
My well used and much loved Thermomix TM5

Ladies do you have handbag cover? Are computers/laptops insured? What about cell phones and even spectacles. How about toys and books?

A home inventory is a must. Start big and list every single item and then work out what can be lumped together under contents to reduce your premiums and what should be specified and insured on its merit?

Even if you can’t afford to fully insure your belongings, ensuring you have some household cover will relieve the burden in the event of loss or damage to your home and its items.

6 key tactics for successful budgeting

6 key tactics for successful budgeting 6
Tactics for budgeting

Budgeting for a lot of people is not something they want to think about. When they do think about it, it creates anxiety and is filled with a lot of negative emotions. Some people though find creating a budget a positive experience. For them, budgeting is freeing.

The first word that came to my mind when I thought about creating a budget for my family was ‘restrictive’, I have since changed that to ‘liberating’.

Here are 6 tactics that turned my negative budgeting perception around.

SMART goals Illustration 25641308 © Flytosky11 -
S.M.A.R.T goals

1. Set a S.M.A.R.T goal

Goal setting is used in many areas of our life whether school, work or even life plans. Choosing the right goal is what makes the difference.

Setting a S.M.A.R.T goal is what will ensure that you succeed whether you use it for setting your budget or for setting life goals.

To explain S.M.A.R.T goals, I am using the example of a new car but SMART can be applied to any goal, including school marks.

S- Specific, your goal must be specific.

To make the goal specific you need to know what car you want. Brand, year, model, size, safety and environmental impact!

M- Measurable.

How does this apply? Choose a car that fits your earnings, so if you earn R20 000 a month your car repayments, petrol and insurance should not cost more than R3 000- R5 000.

A -Achievable.

Can you do it? Don’t dream of a luxury car when you won’t be able to afford the petrol, the tyres or the insurance based on what you currently earn. That is a goal for later. Now you want to focus on a car that you can actually afford and won’t get you into more debt than you can handle.


Will it work for you? If you are a single person, who lives in the city and vacations in cities, why buy an off-road vehicle? If you drive long distances, your need will likely be, fuel economy and comfort. If you have a family, safety is a priority as well as fuel economy when doing the daily school run.

I met a family where the husband drove a small secondhand car as he only went to work and back and the wife had a large 6 seater for her daily use. They saved a lot of money on the small car and therefore could afford the larger car.

T-Time Orientated.

Set a date to achieve your goal. How much can you put away towards your car? Do you have enough for the deposit, at least 20%? If you can save R5 000 per month, how long do you need to save for?

By choosing a cheaper car you make your goal more attainable and you are more likely to stick to your budget.

2.Use stressors as a motivation

Most people only think about budgeting when they are in crisis, while this is great because it has created awareness that you need a budget, the motivation often fades when the crisis is over.

What I mean by using stressors as motivation is that you need to look at what causes you everyday stress.

Do you worry that you can’t afford to feed your family this month? Do you have enough money saved if you want to stop working or take extra maternity leave when you have a baby? Is your current car a death trap and needs to be replaced? Does your house need maintenance? Can you afford to send your children to College/Varsity?

These are the everyday stressors to motivate you. They are specific, they are measurable, but are they achievable and relevant and will you be able to do it in the given time frame?

What if you only earn R3000 a month and you have a child in grade 11 who wants to go to University? Can you put away the R30 000 in the next two years to pay for the first year? What about 2nd and 3rd year and then honours? You would need to put away between 40 & 50% of your monthly salary for the full two years!

This is not a reason to not budget for it, it is a motivation to create a budget that allows you to save as much as possible each month and start looking into bursaries, scholarships and loans.

When you start your budget, don’t try to cut back immediately, this will just lead to you becoming miserable and angry.

Take a month or two to track your spending alongside your proposed budget. Once you know where your money is going, only then is it time to cut back.

3.The 50, 30, 20 budgeting plan

Divide your salary after taxes into 3 parts.

Half your salary (50%) goes to living expenses, such as housing, groceries, utilities, insurance, transport, education. These are your needs.

Then 30% goes towards wants, Pay TV channels, clothing & shopping, hobbies and entertainment

Your last 20% should be to pay back debts and to save for that goal you have set.

Most South Africans do not live this way, that last 20% is usually used only for paying back debt but not getting out of debt. Instead of saving the money is often absorbed into the 30% for wants.

By setting up your budget using the 50, 30, 20 rule you create limits and just with rules and routines for our children, budget limits give us a structure in which we can grow and become financially more secure.

Once you have your budget, stop using your credit cards! Debit cards should be used for the big expenses only and then be put away. Cash should be used whenever possible. This is because cash is tangible and handing over cash for purchases makes you more aware of your spending.

Banks today make it too easy to get credit and then we have no concept of zero. Zero is when we have no more money, but with credit cards and adjustable overdraft limits, zero keeps moving.

When you use cash only zero is zero, you have no more money to spend.


Create scarcity to help you save. What I mean by this is that using your budget to live on and not the balance in your account will allow you to save towards that goal you have set.

If your budget says you have X amount to spend then that is what you have, regardless of what is in your bank account.

All the balance in your bank account will tell is the amount in there, it doesn’t tell you that it is for those debit orders that need to go through, or that school trip you will need to pay for.

Regularly check in on your budget to help you stay on track. If you are the kind of person who likes details then create a category-specific budget.

 If you are someone who would prefer a more generalised budget then only create main categories, like Transport- this would cover petrol, maintenance or taxi fares, Household expenses- would cover groceries, toiletries, household cleaning, gardening service etc., Insurance- would cover life, car, home, medical aid policies and insurance.

A great tip for staying in budget is ‘week money’. You draw up your main budget and then pay your monthly expenses. Once that is done you then divide your budget into how many weeks in the month. One the first day of each week you draw out that cash and use it exclusively. No cards, including debit cards. Once the money is done, it’s done!

5. Get a tenant

If you have space, why not get a roommate or a tenant? Use this money towards your housing costs.

Another option is to let your children stay with you as long as you can tolerate and charge rent. You can charge 10% of whatever they earn. That means whether they are employed full time or have part-time jobs there rent is affordable to them, it also teaches them about budgeting.

If you do not need the money to help with living expenses, then put that money into a savings account for them and gift it back, when they graduate or get married or have some other life event.

6. Find a system that works for you

If you are the pen and paper kind of person then that’s what you use to draw up and track your budget.

If you like technology, there are tons of apps out there for budgeting.  I use an Xcel spreadsheet. My bank a budgeting tool on their App, yours may also have this facility. My husband uses a very intricate spreadsheet he created. My oldest daughter uses an app called?

Budgeting is a good thing and everyone should do it. You just need to find what works best for your needs.

Don’t budget just because you think you must, budget because you have a goal you want to achieve.

What is your S.M.A.R.T goal?

It’s Back to School time, are you ready?

It's back to school time
Back to school

Going back to school can be expensive

It’s back to school time again. I must admit it is going to be a relief to have the children occupied for at least part of their day. I am talking about teenager’s here, not just the little ones.

Each year we get gulled into buying new stationery even when the children still have from last year.

As part of trying to get rid of the clutter in my home and keep it clutter-free, I am also trying to get out of debt.


It is time to take an inventory of what they have left from the previous year. We get a long stationery list each year and off I go to buy everything on the list, at least I used to. Last year for the first time my children had to use what was in the house.

Take stock of last year’s stationery

I also chose to buy stationery from the cheapest places I could find, since I know that about 90% of it won’t last the year.

We go through each pencil case and school bag, every drawer and cupboard and even through the rooms of my two eldest who are finished school! I collect everything and then look at the condition of what we find.

Keep, donate or sell?

I put the stuff we weren’t going to be using, into two piles. One pile to put out on the corner for street recyclers to collect and maybe use for their children and the ones that were not usable at all go into either trash or recycling bins.

Thankfully the trend has turned and those that need textbooks are happy to sell their old ones and buy secondhand. This means a lot of children are using used books and we as parents can save money on the cost of what is already an expensive exercise.

secondhand textbooks
Secondhand textbooks will save you a lot of money

I did have an issue one year when both my son and my oldest daughter in different grades had the same English set-work books!

Secondhand book resources

Here are some useful places to find this:

On Facebook: the groups- Secondhand School/Tertiary books and uniforms’, run by Janice Liebowitz and Ashleigh Elad, I am sure you can find someone in your area that has what you need in JHB and surrounds (people have couriered to other parts of SA before).

For Johannesburg, there is Orchards Books 0824920124, run by Nicky who also pays a small amount for your good condition books. She has a large selection of school books.

For the Cape, there is the Helderberg School Exchange and auction.

For KZN, there is

I am sure there are many more places and people to get secondhand textbooks from. Our school sends out a list of parents (with their permission of course) from the grade above that you can contact.

Earn when you spend

Usually around the first week in January SnapnSave have cashback on stationery, so you can earn while you spend.

If you don’t have the app, do yourselves a favour and get it. Here is my invite code Adrienneb 713(I do earn R10 when you snap your first 5 coupons but so can you).

Back to school while never cheap can be a less expensive exercise when you make use of community groups! We are truly a small world.

New Year 2020 and beyond

New Year 2020 and beyond 8
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
http://Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
My New Year Resolution is to get out of debt

New Year Resolution

I don’t normally make a New Year Resolution (the Jewish New Year has come and gone); however, for 2020 I have made a massive resolution for the next decade.


I did really well in 2019 to pay off my store cards and then when they were paid off I went right back to using them!

I am not alone in my debt and neither are you! On the 30/12/2019 Eye Witness News published an article that stated that ‘40% of South Africans who are in debt are struggling to make their monthly payments’.

Paul Sloan of The Debt Counselling Association of South Africa says that there were many people who had more than 8 loans.

He says that if you are using more than 35% of your income to repay loans, you need to ask yourself why? Too many South African’s are starting the New Year in debt.

To read the full article go to,

From debt to riches

A while ago I wrote an article about a book I read by Phumzile Ndumo called “From Debt to Riches”. I used the book as a reference for articles in a series about debt.

Phumelele Ndumo of ThuthukaSA
Phumelele Nduma of ThuthukaSA

I am pleased and honoured that I will now be working with this lady to get out of debt! You can follow my journey in a few places. On Facebook,  by joining either my group,, or Phumzile’s group ThuthukaSA or both. You can also catch the videos by subscribing to my YouTube channel


If you feel so inclined, why not join along with me? It is a journey that will be difficult, I know. Old habits are hard to break! It is going to take more than just a New Year Resolution; it is going to take a commitment from not only me but my entire family as well.

How did we start and how do you start?

The first thing I had to do was sit down and list all my debt to the last cent. I have discovered that I am one of those people who have over 8 debts. I missed two during my initial homework phase and only saw them when I printed out my bank statements. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I did have to take out loans from the bank during the year!

New Year 2020 and beyond 9
Cut up your cards today

Then I had to look at each debt and work out in what order I would be paying them off. I also had to cut up my cards so that the temptation to use them in an ‘emergency’ could not happen. This is what happened to me when I paid off my store cards previously.

I did change my Woolworths store card to a Reward card only. I have kept my Edgars card and asked that they freeze the account until it is paid off.

Edgars was a little difficult to get hold of because they are very automated and human interaction is not available. I had to write an email eventually. The reason that I have kept my Edgars card is that we are a family who all wear glasses and we are only on a hospital plan. Certain optometric practices allow you to use your card to pay for glasses.

To avoid the temptation of using my card for other purchases I have given it to my mom to lock in her safe.

The truth!

My debts are costing me nearly R8000 per month in repayments. I had forgotten to take into account that over the years my credit limit on the credit cards has increased, so my credit card debt is actually over R 30 000 on each card.

While to some my debt may seem like a huge amount, to others it isn’t as bad as their debt. Each of us has to think in terms of what we earn and how much we owe.

It is different for all of us. A R40 000 debt for someone earning R5000 a month may take as long to pay off as someone with R 200 000 debt earning R 30 000 a month.

I will be using the debt snowball method to pay off the debts I owe.

I will be updating you via video each month on how my debt repayments are coming along.

Since recording the first video my husband has come on board and is committed to getting out of debt. I will not be sharing his information.

Steps to starting your debt-free journey

  1. Be honest about your debt, hiding it is what gets most people into trouble
  2. If you can’t afford it don’t buy it.
  3. If possible, join with family/friends who are in a similar situation, the debt-free group is one of your friends’options, see links in the article.
  4. Do the homework!  Here are downloadable spreadsheets for you to use and, as well as a commitment contract with yourself to sign and to display as a reminder
  5. Check and double-check that you have a record of all your debts, so that you don’t miss any.
  6. If your debt is more than 60% of your income, seriously consider debt review.
  7. Cut up those cards
  8. Be strong!
  9. If you can afford the book, I do recommend Phumzile’s book “From debt to riches” and also join her Facebook group ThuthukaSA, the link is in the article above
  10. Do not try keeping up with the Van der Merwe’s, they may be deeper in debt than you!

Welcome to my journey of the next 2 years. Watch my first session here

You don’t need a duck to clean your bathrooms

Bathroom tap

Cleaning your bathroom is something that happens every day but is it really getting clean?  And what about the cleaning soaps we use, are those that get the stains out, that good? House Cleaning Check list

What did they use before the ducks and the gels? How did you get a bathroom really clean?

Do you have a carpet in front of your toilet? How often does this get washed?

Bathroom schedule

I have previously looked at cleaning bathrooms using cleaning schedules.  Cutting down on heavy chemicals and cleaning products can still keep your bathrooms and the rest of your home clean without poisoning the evironment.

Bathroom cleaning takes a long time and, if like me, you haven’t been monitoring it regularly, you have probably got a little mould in the showers and a little black around the taps.

When I started the blog I took a look at my house and started to get it clean, if not actually, tidy. I have made small changes along the way and it is starting to be as clean as I want it.

Let’s start with the mirror and glass shower doors if you have those instead of curtains.

Cheap white vinegar
Cheap white vinegar

I am lucky to have a full-time domestic to do a lot of the jobs I hate, but for my post I must, obviously, be able to talk from experience.

So what I did was this experiment.  She cleaned the mirrors in one bathroom with a chemical cleaner and I did the other with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle using microfiber cloths (my new favourite cloth for everything).

Vinegar vs chemical

The result was that both came out clean and shiny. The difference came later after the bathrooms had been used for showers and baths.  The steam, which normally leaves marks, wasn’t on the bathroom mirror that I had cleaned.

Another tip I learned:- to prevent your mirrors from steaming up, rub a little shaving foam over and then buff.  You will need to repeat this every time you clean the mirrors with which ever product you choose.

In between chemical cleans, just use a wet microfiber cloth and then dry with a dry cloth.

50/50 water and vinegar
50/50 water and vinegar

This 50/50 vinegar and water solution works well on regular cleaning of the counters and cabinets as well as any soap residue in the basin, bath or shower.

old soap residue around the bathroom tap/faucet
old soap residue around the tap/faucet

Black rings

For slightly tougher stains, use bicarbonate of soda (bicarb)and water or vinegar.  I tried this with that black scum ring around the taps and drains that often builds up over time, and it was so easy to get off.  The vinegar mix works well on the black ring that forms around the drains. It is also great for preventing drains from blocking.

After cleaning with Bicarb and vinegar
After cleaning with Bicarb and vinegar

For cleaning the grout between the tiles, you sprinkle a little Bicarb onto the floor tiles, spray with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar.  I haven’t done this as we have a steam cleaner.

For the wall tiles, painted doors, and the outside of the toilet I tried a homemade all purpose cleaner.

For the really yucky job of cleaning the toilet inside and out, sprinkle some bicarb into the bowl and around the top to coat the inside, then pour white vinegar into the water, scrub lightly with a toilet brush to mix the bicarb and vinegar.

This removed the stains well.  If you are potty training boys (and even if you are not) there is always a little residue on the outside of the toilet and you can use the same mixture around the base and floor of the toilet. Then give a good wipe down of the toilet seat and the hinges under the seat.

There is no longer any need to buy expensive, toxic cleaners. Cheap white vinegar and any brand of Bicarbonate of Soda work wonders. It is also a good way to recycle old toothbrushes.

What cleaning tips do you have?

KOO beans Budget beaters

Koo beans
My wonderful KOO hamper

One of my favourite budget stretchers just got even better!

KOO Beans! I love adding beans to food to bulk it up and now I have even more recipes and ideas to try out.

By chance, I saw a post on SA mom blogs about KOO hosting an event to launch their new range of beans.

I haven’t been online much and had decided to check in and see who was posting what. I am so glad I did.

I went off to the KOO experience, just expecting to be shown the new range and listen to a talk about the brand and their new KOO beans range of products.

I never even thought about the fact that the venue happened to be a cookery school. I just thought it would be a good opportunity to meet the faces behind some of the other mom bloggers that I have come to know online through their blogs and in various blogging groups.

KOO beans experience
I really need to pay more attention!

I did get to put faces to names; I even met new faces and have a few new blogs and vlogs to follow.

The experience is not something I would normally get to have.

Keeping kosher usually means that cooking experiences and demonstrations happen few and far between. Even when I see an event that interests me I usually don’t go because it’s either on a Saturday which is the Sabbath or it is on a day when I am working.

Besides, what is the point when I can’t taste anything? That is definitely going to change.

 The event was sponsored by KOO and hosted by Margy Vally of the Olive Branch Cookery School, in Fourways.

Margy of Olive Branch
Margy Vally of Olive Branch showing us how to make truffles0

The meet and greet experience I was expecting was actually an interactive cooking experience using the new KOO beans range.

We all got to participate in making part of the light lunch that was served, lots of fun and delicious smells going on in the kitchen.

KOO Beans

The recipes KOO supplied were very easy and it didn’t matter whether you had no cooking experience or were a seasoned pro.

The menu was obviously very Mexican since we were using beans.

Spicy Nachos with KOO bean dip, guacamole and sour cream -KOO Black beans in Mexican style sauce

KOO Mexican tortilla cups – using KOO Black beans in Mexican style sauce

KOO Mixed bean and salsa salad- using KOO baked beans in tomato sauce, KOO Black beans in Mexican style sauce and, of course, KOO Whole Kernel corn

KOO chicken quesadillas and sweet corn salsa- using KOO Baked beans in Barbeque flavoured sauce

KOO Fiesta chicken burritos – using KOO black beans in brine

KOO Albondigas- using KOO baked beans in Chili Wors flavoured sauce

KOO Black Bean Chocolate Fudge Balls- KOO Black beans in brine, I cannot wait to make these!

I am so inspired and even though my meal plan for November is all drawn up and the shopping is done for the month, I actually have 99% of the ingredients in my pantry, plus we were given a very nice hamper.

This means changing the menu won’t cost me anything!

KOO beans Budget beaters 10
Black bean truffle

I think I just might try the KOO black bean Chocolate Fudge Balls first!

Beans are a staple ingredient in making food stretch; reducing the grocery bills and ensuring the family all get enough protein and fibre in their diet.

Xtra Savings

Xtra Savings 12
Xtra savings card from Checkers
The Checkers loyalty card is here!

Thank you, Checkers, for the Xtra Savings!

On the 14th October, 2019 Checkers introduced their loyalty card, the Xtra Savings card, and within the first week they had signed up a million people!  I am one of them.

Checkers loyalty card launch specials

The opening savings are, I hope, an indication of the future because those prices were amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the offer until after my monthly online shopping from another store had already been delivered but there were still products that I went and bought because they are definitely not going to go to waste.

Sadly though, there were some items on special that had already been sold out!

Xtra special

With the price of groceries going up every day, it was really nice to get to the till and have my final total drop by R250.

Signing up was a breeze, all I had to do was go to the kiosk, give my cell phone number and my ID and within 5 minutes it was done. No forms to fill in. You can even sign up via WhatsApp, just message “hi” to 087 240 5385.

There was no app to download (although there is an app available, it just wasn’t necessary) and coupons to upload; when I got to the till the discounts were automatically deducted.

You do need to be careful of similar products that aren’t on special, I had to return 2 items as I took the normal ones and not the ones listed on the Xtra savings.

From my experience, it also appears that they have managed to get their card system up and running without too many problems.

Besides the specials that will apparently change weekly, they will monitor what you buy and offer personalised discounts.

I know that their competitor offers a birthday gift on their loyalty card and so will Checkers.

What I would really like, is to be the person who wins free shopping when I swipe.

As always Checkers is fighting hunger, it’s one of their missions, so when you swipe your card they will donate to organisations that are fighting hunger. Even better, you get to choose from 3 different charities, for every 10 swipes of your card, R3 is donated to fight hunger.

Xtra Savings 13
Not only can you help save the environment, but you also get rewarded for it too!

There are some other incentives that really speak to me. Their reusable shopping bags called Planet bags. You get rewarded with 50c off your shopping each time you reuse your Planet bag (they just scan the bar code at the till) and as an Xtra cardholder you earn R1, that’s Xtra rewards for saving the planet one bag at a time.

I have found that the innovation and prices from Checkers have been a big drawcard for me. Especially with their ‘little shop’ and their ‘little garden’ promotions, from which my family still reaps its tomato rewards.

There is one thing that would make me a die-hard Checkers supporter, and that would be the ability to do my shopping online!

As a blogger who focuses on reducing our grocery bills while still maintaining healthy eating habits, I am Xtra excited to use my new card!

Please Checkers, can this be your next step?

How envelope budgeting can reduce your stress

Envelope budgeting

Envelope budgeting has been around for years. There is a good chance that if you asked an older family member they will have either done it or heard about it.

I have mentioned envelope budgeting in a few articles in the past and again recently. It is recommended by financial gurus such as Dave Ramsey, Kumiko Love from the blog and Lauren Greutman from the blog ‘I am that lady’.

Pay Cash

Cash is King

Envelope budgeting is part of making cash your king! It really works but it does require some discipline on your part.

The reason it works is that you can only spend what you have on hand even though a debit card has the same principle in that if there is no money in the account you can’t use it.

The act of handing over a card to pay for an item is not the same as handing over the physical cash. Having to hand over cash is a tactile experience and, therefore, creates a more impactful experience and will make you think twice about buying whatever you have in your basket.

Budget envelopes
Budget Envelopes

Envelope budgeting works

Envelope budgeting, if done right, can remove the worry of getting to the till and not having enough money in your card to pay for everything.

The discipline aspect comes when you run out of cash in one envelope and are not allowed to take money from another.

In my article ‘5 steps to envelope budgeting’, I discuss how to choose your categories and how to get started.

There are obvious disadvantages too which I cover in my blog post –

Each month seems to bring unexpected expenses. I think one of the best ways to see where your money is going and how to choose your envelope categories, is to print out 3 months bank statements and highlight each different category. 

This gives you a better understanding of your money while also helping you identify your spending habits, which is the first step to reducing your expenses.

Expect the unexpected

I found that even though we pay an activity levy each year for school and we buy all the stationery listed on the stationery list we get for the next grade, there are always additional school expenses.

School projects and business days are the biggest expenses and we tend to forget about them. My school envelope gets a certain amount of money put in each month whether we use it or not.  This way when I suddenly have to fork out some money for some school activity or project, it is available.


SA mini bus taxi

When you are struggling financially and living paycheck to paycheck, running out of money for transport or petrol/diesel for your car can be a reality.  This is why having a travel expense envelope is very important.

The way we do ours is that at the beginning of the month we fill up all the cars, whether they need it or not, using our cards to earn the loyalty points associated with each. Then we put enough money in the envelope to fill up each car again during the month. It depends on how much driving you do and how often you fill up as to how much goes into the envelope.

If you are paying for transport, work out how much each trip costs and how many you do, then add the amount for 4 extra trips into your envelope. You never know when you might need to go somewhere unexpectedly.


The grocery envelope is used to fund your weekly purchases. I am a big advocate for buying the bulk of my groceries at the beginning of the month online and then only getting bread, milk, fruit and veg weekly.

I also include the money for the parking attendants in my grocery envelope.

This means that at the beginning of the month I use my card to buy my main groceries and the first week’s perishables. Then I work out the cost of the weekly shop. We use 6 -8 litres of milk a week, plus the bread or fruit and veg, so my envelope contains more money than my transport envelope.


I have an envelope for the Sabbath. I put in enough money to cover the minimum needed to have those special meals and, being Jewish this means special meals for Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch.

For non-Jewish people, this might be the money you will be giving in church for the collection and for the big Sunday lunch/dinner.


To those who feel they would like to give money to the street beggars, work out what you can afford and want to give each week and make an envelope for that. Don’t feel guilty when you run out, you have done something good with your money.  You consciously thought of people who have less than yourself.


If you have children in school, not only will you need a school expenses envelope but also a party/gift expenses envelope. Work out how much you want to spend on each gift not only for your own children’s birthdays but for the parties they have been invited to. The gift envelope can also be used to put money away to host your children’s parties.



Birthdays come every year and we should budget for them.  It is not an unexpected event!

Your gift envelope can also be used to put away money for that office party, the secret Santa, the baby shower, the kitchen tea or the wedding you are possibly going to be invited to.

The gifts that Santa will bring, or the money from the tooth mouse/fairy, can be added to this envelope.

Pocket money

Don’t forget spending money. The point of budgeting is so that you have money to do things that are fun and enjoyable. So have an envelope for entertainment. If your children get an allowance each week, put that money into an envelope so that you can pay them on time. It is a good way to teach children about financial obligations and responsibilities.

One piece of advice is to only have one or two people with access to these envelopes. In the beginning, when you are still learning having a person you are accountable to will help you follow the rules of envelope budget.


Rules are a very important step to making envelope budgeting a success. Here are some that are universal.

  1. Do not borrow from one envelope for a different category. Once the money is gone it is gone.
  2. Put the envelopes in a place that, while accessible to you, is somewhere that you will have to consciously remember to go and remove the money.
  3. Only take out the exact amount you will need for your expected expense.
  4. You must pay your bills first.  This may mean you have less in the envelopes than you would like but it also prevents you from getting charged extra interest and keeps your credit rating positive.
  5. Any change you get from using that cash goes back into the envelope. It can then be used at the end of the month towards the next month or for a special treat, or even towards a savings account.

Everything worthwhile takes a little effort and discipline. You have nothing to lose from trying.

Want to know more about envelope budgeting, watch my video

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Cash is King

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Cash is king

‘Cash is king’: If you always pay cash, you don’t get into debt.

Somewhere along the way, this has been forgotten. I know I was aware of it before my children were born.

Pay Cash

My father never bought anything on credit except his house; I think my parents bought their first car on credit when I was already in my 20’s and they also never bought new cars. My mother got her first brand new car when she was in her 60’s.

Phumelele Ndumo in her book “From Debt to Riches”, says that the only credit we should ideally have is our bond. She states that her Edgars® card is only used for getting her spectacles once a year.

If you are on a hospital plan and you wear glasses, this is probably one of the best ideas I have come across.

One at a time

In a family of 6, we all wear glasses and are on a hospital plan with savings, which does not cover everyone’s specs. This year 3 children got new glasses through the medical aid and one got hers through my Edgars account.  Next year goes to my hubby and I and the two children who really need glasses full time.

The places I am really good with cash only are my weekly grocery shopping, petrol and money for school. This is all due to envelope budgeting.

Envelopes for cash

Cash is King 14

Envelope budgeting is where you mark different envelopes with different household expenses, put cash in the envelopes and then only use the cash inside. Read more here

For my monthly groceries and other expenses, I try to only use my debit card. A debit card is the same as using cash in that you can only spend the money that is on the card. The disadvantage is that you will still spend more than you need to because there is no tangible, physical exchange of cash.

Cash creates awareness

When paying with actual cash, you become more aware of your spending as you have to hand over the money rather than just swiping a card.

The debit card, while still only allowing you to buy with the money you have, is still a transaction once removed from the touch and feel of paying with real money.

It goes without saying that paying cash for things like your bond/rent or car repayments, is not a viable option and certain transactions have to be done online.

Not too much

Obviously, for safety’s sake, you are also not going to walk around with wads of cash on your person, as this makes you a target for thieves.

So if you are going to buy a large item. for instance, possibly a washing machine, then put only that exact amount into your debit card so that you can only buy that item. If you are doing your weekly shopping you shouldn’t need more than R500 on you.

Paying only for items you want in cash is a concept my late father lived by. So when you are thinking of buying something that you have to pay off, like a car, try to make sure you have as much money for a deposit as you can afford, so that you can pay off the debt on the car quickly.

Only houses should not be bought for cash.

What is your preferred method of paying for small items? Do you do your grocery shopping monthly, daily or weekly?

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Can you manage your money effectively?

Money management
Can you manage your money

Do you manage your money or does your money manage you?

For some living from paycheck to paycheck is a difficult way of life, and often results in more month than there is money.

Money in Money out

When you do not manage your money properly this is what happens. Money comes in on payday and is gone the next day.

It’s how we are used to living, and still, sometimes do. Some months our family manages our money and others the money manages me.

The difference in these months is mine and my family’s fiscal discipline and whether we can resist the urge to shop for non-essentials.   It also depends on how well I stick to my meal plan and what surprises the school springs on us that weren’t accounted for in our monthly activity levy.

The unexpected

Unexpected medical bills not covered by our insurance, unexpected car payments (from an accident or blown tire) and how much the petrol went up that month also have drastic effects on our expenses.

Acknowledging that money rules your life is the first step in beginning to manage your money.  I have recently observed, that the people who manage their money, appear to have less financial emergencies than those who are living paycheck to paycheck.

The general consensus from the financial advisors is that you need to have at least 3 months’ salary in an emergency fund.

To date, we have only managed this once and as soon as we got there, our roof needed replacing!

I also noticed that the “old fashioned” giving of tithes (10% of your earnings) really does seem to work.  A few people I spoke to before writing this article, said they faithfully give their 10% to charity and they appear to be able to make their money work for them.

This is not the money or items you give to the beggars on the street but to legitimate charity organisations.

Give time instead of money

For those who can’t afford the actual cash right now, try giving of your time or expertise to the cash value it would equal. It doesn’t work as well as the cash (never give more than the 10% unless you can afford to) but it definitely does work.

Over the years there have been times where I worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to buy the groceries and then I would, sometimes begrudgingly, do something for a good cause and suddenly I would find just the right amount I needed.

I have now instituted a policy in my workshops, where I sell 9 tickets and then invite 1 person for free who I know would benefit from the workshop but really can’t afford it.

 We and our money are in a battle of wills right now!  My family gets through the month – just. Trying to put away money to save for rainy days, my business and other expenses are where we lose the fight. It just doesn’t happen.

Sneak savings

So I have started what I call my sneak saving plan. I have a money box (piggy bank) and I have started putting my 20c pieces in. I know this will take a long, long time but I am determined. I have made sure that I can’t open the money box and will have to break it to get the money out. This will be done only when it is full!

What steps are you taking to manage your money? How much have you managed to save at any given time? Do you give to charity?  Have you got any other ideas or hints that might help us all?