Tips to stretch your budget on a Covid salary

Covid has hit everyone in their pockets. Here are some tips to help you stretch your rand.Covid has hit everyone in their pockets. Here are some tips to help you stretch your rand.

The coronavirus has pressed the reset button on the world and, for some, this reset has been painful in numerous ways. Not only have some people had to contend with the death or severe illness of loved ones but almost everyone got hit in their pockets through job losses or salary cuts.

In this article, we will give a few tips to help you save some pennies during these tough economic times.

Sprout things

Sprouts are a staple among the ultra health conscious but I’ve listed them as a budget beaters because sprouting quadruples the use legumes.

Legumes grow four times in size when are sprouted, thereby potentially turning one meal into four. Sprouting also releases locked nutrients – reserved in the seed for the newly developing plant – and makes seeds more digestible.

Seeds that can be sprouted for eating – as sprouts or microgreens, include lentils, beans, squash seeds (which are usually thrown away) cabbage seeds, brown barley (not pearled) dill, fennel and many others.

If you are already a home gardener, you may already have a reserve of seeds for your next crop. Why not sprout some?

Grow your own

Marigolds are among the long list of edible flowers that you can grow for the table without skimping on aesthetics.

One thing lockdown has given many people is extra time. Why not use some of that extra time to garden?

Gardening need not be expensive. A great many kitchen scraps can be regrown, the rest can be composted. If space is a challenge you can try vertical or container gardening and most households have an abundance of potential planting containers among their regular waste. Empty butter, ice cream or yoghurt tubs are all potential pot plants – I have beetroot growing in my daughter’s broken gumboots.

There is also a lot of support for home gardeners through organisations like Seed and Soil for Life, so if you really don’t know what you are doing, they can guide you.

A low water supply need not be a deterrent. Laundry effluent is great for watering – though purists would point out that it is not organic. Not only will the water be used twice but it also helps to keep pests, like snails, at bay.

Some plants also have multiple edible parts.

Carrots, beetroot, beans, brinjal, broccoli and squash have edible leaves – though only eat young shoots of squash leaves as mature leaves are tough and spiky.

Lettuce, squash and broccoli have edible flowers. Squash flowers are considered a delicacy in some countries and the good news is that you can harvest flowers without sacrificing fruit. Only female flowers become fruits and the male flowers grow more abundantly. You can tell the difference in the flower just by looking – the distinguishing stamens look remarkably similar to the corresponding human organs.

Lots of other flowers are edible too, like roses, nasturtium, marigold and violet, so you don’t need not skimp on aesthetics when growing for the table.

Invest in reusables

Reusable nappies have undergone a facelift and are no longer the stinky, messy affairs of the past.

Reusables cost more at the outset but yield rewards in longer term savings.

A good example, which many people turn their noses up at, is nappies. Disposable nappies cost a fortune. On average, a month’s worth of disposable diapers costs about R500. Multiply this by two years (without taking inflation into account and assuming the child potty trains successfully at two years – which many don’t) that amounts to R12 000.

A good set of reusables on the other hand cost roughly R2 000 (many build the collection slowly until they have enough) but they will last the duration of the child’s nappy using years and sometimes are even used on multiple babies, thereby saving you upwards of R10 000.

Reusable nappies have also undergone a facelift in recent years and are far more user-friendly and clean than their ancestors.

Nappies are just one example though. Sticking with the baby theme, wet wipes are another expensive disposable. Wet cloths are actually much gently on the skin and when soaked in a small bucket, with mild anti-septic, it is as good to go as a wet wipe.

Make from scratch

It is far cheaper to make your own cakes, breads, jams and desserts than to buy. Time is money as they say so when you buy ready-made anything you are also paying for the time used to make it – not to mention the packaging and nasty preservatives.

Making from scratch can be daunting but start simple and soon you may even have the confidence to make home-made jams, yoghurts and cheese – all of which are easier than than you think.

Think out of the box

Groceries are not the only household expense but with a little ingenuity they need not put a hole in your pocket.

Gifts can be bought when they are cheap, like at Black Friday sales, and stocked year round. Or they can be made home-made.

Stationery can be bought bulk off season and used gradually throughout the year.

Some stationery, like book covers, can be reused multiple times. Book covers can also be home made from old wrapping or newspapers or children’s art works.

Wrapping doesn’t have to be pretty, especially if it only hangs around a short while before ending up in the bin. Why not wrap gifts in newspaper? But if you insist on prettiness, gift bags are a good investment because they can be reused. Children’s art also makes a nice wrapping and adds to the sentimental value.

Do you have any budget beatings tips that have helped you during lockdown? Send them to