Tips To A Better Financial Future
By Vanessa Papas
Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar credits her mother with instilling good money-giving habits in her, which include using coupons for things like dry cleaning and shopping at department stores on double reward days, while Zooey Deschanel carries a R0 balance on her credit cards and her only debt is her house bond. But sadly, not everyone has a clean track record when it comes to their finances. Did you know that there are currently about 19-million credit-active South Africans who have concerning credit records, with more than 11-million of these people being placed into the over-indebted category? These scary statistics clearly show that South Africans are struggling to pay their debts and batt ling to meet repayments on loans, accounts and cards – resulting in many of them owing the majority of their monthly salary to creditors.
“Most consumers don’t have adequate financial understanding and literacy, which makes it easy to fall into bad financial habits when they are struggling to make ends meet,” says Anton Keet, head of Risk Services at 1Life, a registered financial services provider. “It has become more evident that consumers need access to accurate financial initiatives which equip them with the knowledge needed to achieve personal financial success – especially if we consider that many people aren’t exposed to the right financial guidance and therefore aren’t equipped to manage their money effectively.”
So what support should you be looking for and how are you able to access this? Anton has provided a few tips to get you started: Get Educated: Have you thought about financial literacy courses to educate yourself around sound financial management? By improving your own financial literacy, you might begin to realise how many different ways there are to start saving – putti ng you and your family in a better financial situation for the future. Evaluate Your Situation: Once you are equipped with the basic understanding of money management, it’s important to evaluate your own personal financial situation. Review your personal budget – make a list of your monthly expenses, as well as a list of your debt – and compare this to your income, so that you understand what your current financial situation is and how to change it. Understand Where Your Money Goes: Aft er that, you should have a clear picture of where and how you spend your money each month. Of these amounts, you can then ascertain what portion goes towards debt and what goes to wealth creation. After this, you will be able to accurately evaluate if you have extra money and how much extra you have to spend towards future investments and reaching your financial goals.
Determine What You Want Your Situation To Be: Whether it’s getting rid of all your debt, not spending unnecessarily, or even saving more each month, it is important to set personal financial goals and constantly re-evaluate them to track your financial success. Put A Plan In Place: Whatever your personal goals may be, achieving them requires a financial plan. This is what keeps you focused on what you need to achieve, which could include finding ways to cut unnecessary expenses, seeking debt counselling and support or finding ways to start saving. It’s important to have a plan in place. By not having one, you might lose track of long-term goals and spend money on luxuries, instead of, say, saving towards your retirement. Review And Revise Your Financial Plan: Always constantly review and revise your financial plan. Unexpected expenses and emergencies happen to all of us. Your financial situation might change due to unforeseen circumstances so make sure that you revise your plan in the right areas. Remove what is not necessary and hold onto your policies and savings, as these will keep you in good stead in the future. However, we all know that strategies you had in place to reach certain long-term goals might not give you the results that you expected. Re-evaluating your plan from time to time will ensure you still reach those goals.