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Money is a personal thing

Test-driving 22seven and taking control of personal finances.

People become quite funny when it comes to money. We often talk about “stuff” that we buy with money or the success that we enjoy when we make good investments, but very rarely do we make the tough discussions concerning money when they are needed.

Recently I sat down with Christo Davel – one of the founders of personal finance app 22seven. We had some really interesting discussions around how people approach money and how the current generation has very few role models when it comes to managing their money. Ergo we end up with high levels of debt, a prevalence of micro lenders and a “fake it until you make it” approach to your spending habits.

We decided that as part of an education campaign around the 22seven campaign, I would write about my own experiences using the application and see if we could improve some of my financial habits going forward. Hopefully I could be some kind of basic financial role model for other South Africans.

For those not familiar with the app, 22seven interfaces with your bank accounts and allows you to track what you are spending where and try and to match it to a budget that you have set. This can be done on the fly and if you are pedantic, you can even monitor it on a transaction by transaction basis.

Over the next two months, I am going to be writing a weekly column detailing my experiences – good and bad – about the app and try to field questions from the Moneyweb community.

Getting started

As a starting point, I had a mixed experience getting signed up.

Downloading the app from the app store was easy enough but connecting up your accounts is an interesting experience. I have bank accounts with Standard Bank and First National Bank (FNB) and then I have investment accounts with 10X, etfSA, Allan Gray, Peregrine, IG South Africa and GT247.

Setting my FNB accounts was a breeze. The interface was easy and intuitive and it went through without problem.

The Standard Bank accounts gave me hassles for the majority of the afternoon and were a bit of a pain with the app battling to pull account data. With Standard Bank being my primary bank, I need to make sure this is configured properly upfront.

As such, my starting piece of advice: if you are planning to use 22seven, then make sure you have all your data gathered together. This includes your various investment account details, your home loan and credit cards. If you are going to be serious about managing your financial profile then be serious about it – don’t just put the easy elements into the system.

Secondly, I think the technology is great, but you need to also face up to the reality of what your financial data is saying to you. I can guarantee that a lot of people are going to be presented with their financial positions and decide it is too scary to continue. Don’t turn away.

There are few things more disempowering than not being in control of your finances and being forced to duck and dive creditors. If you are in debt (and believe me I know what that is like) then it feels easier to simply avoid looking at your financial position. The converse is that if you do take control of your finances, the world becomes a far easier place.

Join me on this challenge and let me know your experiences with the app. Money is a personal thing but if you can take control, you will no longer be a slave to it.

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