Budgeting in South Africa

Why people hate budgeting in South Africa

I’ve been thinking about the new year and what it will bring and as I speak to people I realise that budgeting in South Africa is something that everyone knows that they should do, but they don’t. It’s one of those weird things of knowing what you should do but not actually doing anything about it.

There seems to be a love hate type relationship with budgets and many misconceptions and funny excuses.

So here are 4 reasons why people hate budgets along with how you should change your mindset about it.

This is how to budget when you hate budgeting!

Budgets are too restrictive

This is probably the most common excuse (or misconception) about budgets. In fact, my partner doesn’t budget because of this!

So let’s start off with the basics…. a budget is really your own set of “rules” that you set for yourself based on what you decide should be prioritised in life. What this really means is that if your budget is too restrictive then you can change it. No one is forcing you to set any specific limits or to cut down on things.

It could be though that your expenses are more than your income and in that case it may seem that your budget is restrictive. Well, it’s obvious that if you’re living beyond your means then you will need to cut down and that can be hard. Spending more than you earn will create serious financial problems for you in the long run so if you’re in this situation then you should have a good think about fixing your finances!

But back to what a budget is. Think about spending some time looking at your income and expenses, setting some goals and making some decisions regarding your finances. You do all of this in a calm and relaxed environment and spend quality time thinking about how you want to spend your money. Then once the month is in full swing and you’re not so focused on your finances you simply look back at decisions you’ve already made and act on them.

Instead of being restrictive a budget is empowering!

Budgets are boring

I hear this a lot as many people feel that budgets are boring. Well, it can be a bit tedious tracking expenses and working out if you have over or under spent on all your categories.

It doesn’t need to be a boring Excel spreadsheet though! There are several options on managing your daily budget so find something that you enjoy.

  • A pen & paper along with some doodles and color-coding
  • An Excel spreadsheet
  • Use an app for budgeting in South Africa (I use the YNAB app but I’d also recommend 22Seven for budgeting in South Africa)

And then there are mini-goals and treats that you can decide on and keep yourself motivated. Put up a little poster in your cupboard where you can track things and write down notes for yourself.

Make a budget meaningful and fun for yourself!

Budgets are complicated

I’ve heard this one too but as a budget is what you want it to be, it can be as complicated or simple as you want!

The simplest form of a budget is to withdraw your spending limit (for the month or per week) and to place it into envelopes that are each marked with a category (eg Clothing, Toiletries, Groceries, etc). You keep the envelopes with you and spend cash from the specific envelopes.

If you see that you’re running low on a category you can either stop spending or you can move money around. This is really easy as you’re dealing with cash and it’s visual.

But then you can move it over to paper, a spreadsheet or an app. As far as simplicity goes, an app is by far the easiest. And it’s also easier if you track less categories.

But, as mentioned a few times, a budget or spending plan is really your own plan for your money and you can decide what makes sense for you.

I don’t have enough money

Some people seem to think that budgets are only applicable to people who have lots of money. I don’t know where that idea comes from as it’s so far form the truth!

A budget or spending plan is for everyone! Whether you’re a student, living at home, employed, married or single. It doesn’t matter, if you have some money (however much) then you should have a plan!

Remember that no-one cares about what happens to your money as much as you do! If you don’t look after it, no-one else will.

Budgeting in South Africa: free course

Budgets should be easy, fun and empowering! If you want to know more you can join the free budgeting course which has some great video interviews, downloadable worksheets and spans 5 lessons. So want to see how to budget when you hate budgeting?

Nicolette Mashile discusses her views on a Spending Plan. Tebogo Mowandi chats about how he loves his budget and Di Brown gives us some tips and tricks on budgeting when you don’t earn a fixed monthly salary.

Learn how to budget when you hate budgeting.

Join the Budgeting Course here! Learn how to make a budget even when you hate budgeting.


  1. Knew I liked you. I also use YNAB to budget and wonder how I ever lived without it. Have tried to interest people I know in budgeting and get similar responses to the ones listed. So I sit here on my little pot of ever growing gold and wonder why more people don’t budget. I can definitely see the pain caused by not having one. I do what I can, and have to accept the rest. Will definitely be checking out your posts.

    1. Thanks for the comments. And money is unfortunately not something you can easily talk to people about. It’s great to be enlightened but can also be frustrating when seeing what others should do…lol

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