Carly Barnes, brand manager for EasyEquities:
Just start. We often put things off that we’re a little afraid or intimidated by, which means we lose out on the learning you get when you just jump in. Start with small changes, but start. Whether that means investing just R50 a month, or finding one thing to cut out of your monthly expenses. Small changes become big changes over time.
Don’t starve yourself. Like with dieting, financial health means creating a lifestyle that trims down the excess but allows for a few treats here and there. You are way more likely to stick to your plan and meet your goals if you aren’t too hard on yourself. Have that little spoil every now and then. All in moderation.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Understand where your money goes every month. Own it. Read up and make an effort to understand the stuff you don’t get. Ask – you’d be surprised how many people are happy to share their skills and knowledge with you. Plus there are so many resources available online now, get it girl!
Kristia van Heerden, CEO of JustOneLap.com:
Firstly, understand the following five concepts: interest, inflation, compounding, assets and index-tracking products. Google, ask a friend, learn in whatever way is comfortable. Understanding these concepts will empower you to make logical financial decisions.
Keep lifestyle expenses as low as possible. Cut what is unnecessary to create space in your budget and save the difference. It’s the single most important financial decision you’ll ever make.
Have enough savings to cover expenses for three months. If you are a parent, include the monthly expenses for your kids in this calculation. Emergencies are always costly and much more traumatic if you don’t have a financial buffer in place to get you through it.
Once your emergency fund is in place, start investing. Cash savings won’t preserve the spending power of your money. If you’re under the impression that investing is hard, I’m happy to tell you you’re wrong. Anybody can do it and everybody should.
Michelle Dickens, MD of TPN Credit Bureau:
Imagine a tenant squatting on your credit card debt. Leveraging is an incredibly powerful way to create wealth but it can just as easily spiral into a debt disaster if you have over-leveraged when the interest rates go up; vacancy rates go up or tenant delinquency ratios go up. It is even worse is if it happens on multiple properties at the same time! The key is to make sure you have a savings fund available to cover the property expenses should things go south.
Protect your financial identity. This really is a case where knowledge is power. Don’t leave it until you are in a sticky situation before you get acquainted with your own personal credit report. Remember, you have access to a free annual credit report, use it to confirm the accuracy of all your credit and rental agreements.