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When times are tough, the first things to get bumped off the spending list are the small luxuries – like that takeaway latte on the way to work and extra help around the house if you need it. 

But here are a few ways you can still enjoy a few of life’s luxuries when you’re trying to keep an eye on your expenses:

Heating your home

Rising electricity tariffs should not make heating your home a luxury during winter. “Switch over to solar power so that you can rely on stored solar energy during load shedding when the demand is at its highest. This will not only cut back on your electricity bill, but having a battery will make you immune to loadshedding, alleviate demand on the grid and help reduce load shedding in SA,” says Matthew Cruise, lead campaign manager of Hohm Energy. “With stored solar power, depending on the size of your panels and your battery capacity, you should be able to keep at least one room in your home warm.”

Financial advice for parents-to-be

Family entertainment

A Smart TV or home entertainment centre may not be a necessity. But instead of forking out thousands of rands for a TV, you could rent one for a couple of hundred rands a month for as long, or as little, as you need it, with the option of cancelling at any time or owning the TV after the rental term is up. “Subscribing to a TV during winter, when you need it most, means that you can enjoy entertainment without having to incur any debt. The same applies to home appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers as well as computers, home fitness equipment, or even beds,” says Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy. What’s more, your subscription includes maintenance, risk cover and even the TV license! The only thing you need to worry about now is whether to add butter or salt to the popcorn. 

Create a chic home bar

Sipping on cocktails in a swanky bar isn’t always part of the budget and sometimes we just want to have a drink at home. So, why not bring the swish home by investing in a home bar? Start with a capsule collection of a few key spirits to make the most popular drinks, like tequila for margaritas, white rum for daiquiris and mojitos, bourbon for old fashioneds, gin for martinis and vodka for Cosmopolitans. “Add a few more versatile ingredients like vermouth, an orange liqueur and bitters, and you’ll be able to make a wide range of cocktails,” says Melrick Harrison at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront. Add flair with homemade ice cubes flavoured with mint and rosemary, and ensure panache with glass decanters and a beautiful drinks trolley.

Online travel

Don’t miss out on the magic of experiencing foreign cultures as you save up for a holiday abroad. Airbnb’s exciting Online Experiences makes it possible to immerse yourself in other destinations from the comfort of your house. Do a virtual wander around the Taj Mahal with a local expert in India, make pasta with a Nonna in Italy, and knock up fancy cocktails with a mezcal/tequila cocktail masterclass in Mexico. It’s affordable and fun, and new experiences are added all the time.

Get help around the house

Having extra help around the house is a luxury that many people are looking at cutting back on. This not only impacts us, but also domestic workers and informal tradespeople who need the income now more than ever before. Instead of cutting down completely, look at booking these services through an app such as SweepSouth where you can choose how long you need someone, and how often you may need them. This way, you are still able to provide someone with an income when you have room in your budget. 

Sushi and pizza on tap

Instead of eating out, learn to make a few fancy dishes at home. Sushi is expensive, and if you can master it, you’ll impress your family and dinner guests no end. Pizzas are another great dining out option. Buying ready-made bases and filling them with fancy toppings will save you money. The trick here is to invest in a proper pizza stone that you can slip into the oven – you won’t regret the purchase.

Look for affordable luxe experiences

Make the effort to search for discounted nights out in your area. Sign up to cultural, theatre, concert, and gallery newsletters and check your city’s online events and happenings calendars. Art exhibition openings are another fun way to feel like you’re part of the high life. Apart from the free wine and cheese, developing an appreciation for art is one of the greatest joys in life.

Dine BYO and buy smart

When you’re dining out, search for places that allow you to bring your own wine for a small corkage fee. Restaurants put big mark-ups on wine, so this is a smart way to enjoy a brilliant bottle of wine with your food without having to pay an arm and leg for it. And, if you lust after pricey fashion items, buy the smart way. Wait for end-of-season sales, or shop preloved designer pieces in online events or at vintage stores. 

Luxury is not defined by what you own as much as the way you feel. Whether it’s a mezze meal enjoyed picnic style on a fluffy rug in your sitting room, or sourcing brilliantly priced wines and MCCs to enjoy at dinnertime, there are many ways that don’t require the splashing of cash to make you feel truly luxurious. Incorporate many of these into your everyday life instead of only waiting for when you’re able to spend the cash, and discover that luxury, indeed, is a state of mind.