Saving is hard. At one point or another we’ve all said this, and it really can be, when we aren’t really putting in the work.

In a time where living “your best life” is our mantra, many of us haven’t found the sweet spot between saving and getting in that much needed Me-time.

There is, however, a really easy way to save. No special tricks or secret YouTube formulas – just basic math and a lot of discipline – or failing that – a little planning.

Better yet, it applies to all budgets as it isn’t dependent on the amount you make – rather it works with how you divide it up. This does change slightly depending on your level of independence, but that’s ok. We all get there eventually and it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

By using the 80/20 rule to save, you can simplify saving and still manage an active social life and financial responsibilities. To be fair, this ratio can be adapted to your income frequency though. We’ll also cover a ratio for when it’s a bit harder to save.

Firstly, lets cover how a budget needs to flow:

Main Expenses:

Bills – Electricity, travelling expenses, food, textbooks, etc. – anything that is needed in your career or studies that have to be covered.


Outings, restaurants, etc.


Money set aside for later on.

Your expenses will always be the most important part of your budget as they are things you have to cover no matter what is happening that month – So even when it’s a huge party this Saturday, your grocery money needs to be set aside first.

Social expenses are things you don’t “need” to cover but this falls within your Me-time, so it always comes after your Main Expenses have been covered or money has been set aside to cover it.

Now Let’s break down how to save while not limiting your Me time too much. We’ll do this in levels of independence and how it varies from level to level:

Students – pocket money:

Your saving percentage should be about 30% of your pocket money – minimum 20.  So if you receive R100 weekly, R30 (minimum R20) should be saved. This percentage is higher because pocket money tends to be received more often than a salary or NSFAS.

Students – NSFAS:

After you’ve covered your expenses (food, traveling, rent, etc – not social activities) your saving percentage should be about 20% of your NSFAS. 

Due to NSFAS being a lump sum, divide your payout by 12, e.g; if your payout is 36000, your monthly budget is 3000.

If your expenses are R2000 in total, that leaves R1000 available to you for the month. 20% of this will then be your saving amount (R200) which leaves you with R800 for social activities for the month.

Graduates – first job through seasoned professional:

Sticking to the 80/20 rule will work well in your favour. Though it’s trickier to work out your percentages as you’ll be looking at your Nett pay (what you take home after all deductions).

So remember you first remove your expenses before working out your savings. If your Nett pay is R5000 and your expenses are R3500, that leaves you with R1500 for the month – meaning your 20% saving will be R300 every month.

For extremely tight budgets:

Lower your ratio to 90/10. This means your saving is 10% and expenses and social take up 90%.

This might seem like a small amount, but saving is important – it creates a cushion of cash for when you’re running low and you have a financial emergency, or it allows you to build toward your firsts. First car, first home, first vacation.

Saving can be your buffer when you need it or something to allow you to realise larger dreams.

Here’s where a little planning comes in

If you find that it becomes hard to save because things keep popping up or that you just overspend slightly, transfer your savings into a fixed savings account – this can be set up at any bank – and set a 32-day access restriction on it, meaning you’ll need to request access to your savings 32 days in advance. This will help you to not access money unnecessarily or overspend because you have cash “just laying around”.

It’s never too late to start saving and there is no such thing as too small an amount to save. If anything, saving is just investing in your tomorrow, today.

Tell us: what do you think of this advice?