What we eat affects the way we feel and our health. And when the most common items in our grocery baskets continue to rise steeply in price, it can affect our wallets as well as our mental health. Even more so for providers of families with young children.
Being unable to put food on the table is associated with a 257% higher risk of anxiety and a 253% higher risk of depression. To put that into perspective, the loss of a job doesn’t even cause as much damage to our mental health. The same study highlights only a 32% increase in risk for anxiety and a 27% increase in risk for depression.
When prices go up, so do our stress levels and anxiety. Particularly, when money is already tight…
The current increases in food and fuel prices in South Africa affects the cost of all goods and services. To deal with the current economic effects, 83% of consumers are making changes to their purchasing behaviour because of inflation.
The October 2021 Household Affordability Index shows that the average cost of the Household Food Basket has increased by a staggering 10% since last year October 2020.
Here are some of the most notable food increases we’ve had this year:
- Maize meal – increased by 10%
- Frozen chicken pieces – increased by 11%
- Eggs – increased by 17%
For the average home in South Africa, the increase in food prices is not to be ignored.
Many South Africans have experienced a salary cut during the pandemic. And others the loss of their income altogether. To help cope with the rising cost of food and fuel, many consumers have had to rely on debt to feed and clothe their families.
A recent NCR Unsecured Credit Study published earlier this year found that consumers are increasing their balances on their credit cards and store cards to pay for monthly groceries. The average South Africans credit card balance has notably increased by 20% since last year to buffer out the cost of living. And many are prioritizing their credit card repayments over their loan repayments just to ensure extra credit cash flow for rising household expenses.
The same study found that consumers are falling behind on debt repayments. And some consumers are more than 3 months in arrears.
Scary times indeed…
While consumers continue to struggle with the affordability of basic monthly living expenses, the bad news is that cost of living is expected to only increase.
Food is a monthly expense we just can’t avoid, but you can minimize the amount you’re spending each month. All it takes is a little bit of time and some patience.
The holiday season is fast approaching so to help cope with the rising cost of living, here are 10 ways to beat food inflation in South Africa.
1. Plan your shopping trips with health in mind
Planning your meals will help keep your grocery expenses to a minimum. If you’ve never created a food plan before, start by creating a weekly food plan and only buy what you need for that week. You can divide your monthly shopping budget into 4 weeks and use that to budget your weekly grocery shopping.
2. Put on your blinders
Grocery stores are designed in such a way to get you buying more items than what you need. Grocery stores rely on shoppers to make impulsive buying decisions along the way. But if you stick to your plan and stay focused you won’t fall for their tricks.
3. Avoid frozen meals
More consumers are prioritizing convenience than ever before and grocery stores capitalize on this trend. Ready-made meals are easy to prepare but they come at a high price. It will be cheaper to buy fresh produce and to make meals yourself.
4. Use reward and savings cards
Most grocery stores have a reward card or a savings card that you can take advantage of. These loyalty cards won’t save you a ton of money, but every small amount you end up saving adds up in the end.
5. Avoid top-shelf items
Stores often place their most expensive items at eye level. To find the items at the best value look for items at the best price available. Also, avoid brand name items as these products are often more expensive than generic brands. Generic products are often the same or similar compared to branded products, so you’re not losing out on quality.
6. Compare store prices
Comparing products from various stores can be a big money saver. The bigger supermarkets often increase their prices on certain products. But you often find that you could get the same product for cheaper at a different store. For example, a supermarket may charge more for fresh produce compared to the local grocery in your neighbourhood. So check prices at various stores to get the best value.
7. Buy products on sale
Buying in bulk and when special offers are available can save you some money along the way. Using your loyalty card, you could end up saving a few bucks if you shop smart. Remember, only buy products you need and avoid buying products just because they’re on sale.
8. Check the kitchen
Plan your shopping list and meals and check what you have in the kitchen before heading out to purchase your groceries. Planning your meals this way will bring your grocery bill down a lot. This will also help minimize buying items in the spur of the moment. If you know what you need you’ll only stick to that.
9. Pay in cash
Relying on your credit card each month when you can’t afford to repay what you owe, will set you into a debt spiral sooner than you think. To avoid financial distress, pay in cash and avoid buying necessities on your credit card where possible.
10. Avoid takeouts
Eating out is expensive, so try making meals at home as much as possible. Many of the meals you order from a restaurant can be made at home, for a fraction of the price.
Find a recipe online and make your own home-cooked meals. It’s also a great way to learn new cooking skills.
Debt Rescue is the #1 debt counsellor in South Africa. We have helped thousands of consumers take control of their finances through the debt review process. Debt review will help you reduce your monthly debt repayments and help make monthly household expenses more affordable.
If you’re over-indebted, contact us today. We can help you.