To commemorate financial literacy month in the US, Google revealed its list of the most-Googled questions they get on saving money. ‘How to save for a house?’ topped the list, followed by ‘how to save for retirement?’ and ‘how to save for a car?’.
South Africans are also turning to Google for financial advice with ‘what is bitcoin?’, ‘where to sell Mandela R5 coins?’ and ‘what is forex trading?’ topping the search list. Other questions South Africans asked Google included: ‘what is a good credit score?’, ‘what is a unit trust?’, ‘where to invest?’ and ‘what is a retirement annuity?’.
It’s not surprising that South Africans are looking for alternative ways to earn a bit more money and are trying to make their money go further. With the rising cost of living, escalating fuel costs and a shrinking economy, times are tough.
While the internet is a useful tool for research, South Africans should adopt a savings mindset and ask themselves five fail-proof questions to get their budget under control:
1. Where does my money go every month?
Download your account transactions through online banking for the last three months and spend a few hours going over everything. Identify what is costing you the most (food, clothes, airtime, petrol) and assess how to reduce spending so much in this area.
2. Am I using the 50/20/30 plan?
When you receive your monthly income, adopt the 50/20/30 rule. Budget 50% for necessities (rent, bond, groceries etc.), 20% for your savings (including retirement funds) and 30% for your lifestyle expenses (entertainment, clothes, holidays etc.). Knowing you have a budget within which to play – after you’ve paid your bills and put money aside – will give you a certain amount of financial freedom.
3. What are my savings goals?
Staying away from the money building up in your savings account is easier if you have a goal in mind. Remember what you are working towards, whether it is saving for education, a holiday or getting your debt paid off. Having something tangible to save for will help keep you motivated.
4. Which tools can I use to save?
If you are using apps to track eating habits, exercise routines and loyalty rewards, why not your money? There are many free budgeting apps these days that will help you stay on top of where you are with your money. Daily push notifications will encourage you to stick to your goals.
5. Why am I battling to pay off debt?
Don’t waste your hard-earned money paying interest on your debts. Start by paying back some of your smaller debts and those with higher interest rates as these add up quickly. Also be sure to save up before a large purchase so that you can put down a decent deposit and speed up your repayments, saving you money.
South Africans are perhaps illustrating more of a flair for entrepreneurial ways to make money through online trading and coin exchange. However, they should not ignore the value of savings and reducing their existing debt. It is better to work with the money you have than to depend too much on future returns which could be short term.
Here’s the list of the top 10 financial questions South Africans asked Google in 2018:
- What is bitcoin?
- Where to sell Mandela R5?
- What is forex trading?
- Which bank has the highest interest rate for fixed deposit?
- What is bitcoin mining?
- Where can I check my credit status for free?
- What is a good credit score?
- What is a unit trust?
- What is debt review?
- Which bank offers the best interest rate for savings?
Susan Steward is from Budget Insurance.