Are you making the most of the money you have?

By YOU Digital
09 March 2020
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Maya Fisher-French guides us through the journey of six ordinary South Africans as they take up the Absa/City Press Money Makeover Challenge

Join us for the six-month money makeover boot camp! For the contestants finding extra money in their budgets to pay off debt or to start investing is going to take discipline and commitment. Their first challenge was to get a handle on where their money goes each month and to make decisions about what they were prepared to live without in order to reach their personal goals. 

KNOW HOW MUCH YOU SPEND 

Taking a good hard look at your budget isn’t always an easy thing to do. “I knew we were overspending but I didn’t know how close we were to completely running out of money. We put on blinkers and thought it would turn out okay,” admits consultant Peter. Now he and his wife, Helen, have a handle on the numbers, they can start to make informed decisions. 

Construction company owner Bellah would just spend as money came in from customers. Now she knows exactly what monthly salary she needs to draw from her business. “When I got paid I used it for anything, even things I don’t need. With my next lump sum, I’m going to pay for my life cover for the whole year and start an emergency fund so I don’t borrow money again.” 

CREATE AWARENESS 

“The power of tracking your spending is the awareness it creates,” says personal finance expert Maya Fisher-French. 

Government communication specialist Mishack has already saved himself R600 a month. “I saved this by simply watching what I spent on unnecessary things. I’m using this amount towards debt.” Mishack noticed when he went to the mall to pay his clothing store accounts he bought his family lunch and even more items on the store card. His adviser, Johan Frouws, set up Mishack’s store-card repayments through online banking, which is saving Mishack not only money but also time. 

TV producer Nono has been amazed at how her finances have improved in just two months because she finally has a budget. “I haven’t had a raise or any extra money but I’m already paying off more debt because I’m using my money in clever ways. It’s mind-boggling how that happened!” 

MAKE IT A TEAM EFFORT 

It’s tough on a family to have to cut back significantly, so Peter and Helen have made it a team effort and share their experience with their three children. “Our children are fully on board and were especially excited when the photographers arrived.” 

For personal assistant Catherien, a mother of three, budgeting as a family is more of a challenge. While she keeps a disciplined budget, her husband, Jan, finds it difficult and buys unplanned-for items. 

“Getting your finances in order requires a team effort, but it’s worth it as you look forward to your shared future together,” Fisher-French says. 

Nono says sharing the Money Makeover experience with her husband, Vusi, has brought the newlyweds even closer together. “This forced us to have real conversations about money that we didn’t even know we needed to have. Now we talk about investments and saving for the future.” 

THINK OUT THE BOX 

Peter’s family needed to find even more ways to save. Reducing their grocery bill – by eating less red meat and growing their own vegetables – has been a key focus. They’re selling unused items and may possibly even sell one of their cars. As they live in a tourist spot in Cape Town, they plan to rent out their home via Airbnb during the December holidays. 

GET UTILITY BILLS UNDER CONTROL 

Area manager and property owner Colen was shocked by his high electricity costs, not only on his rental properties but also at home. He installed a prepaid meter and his electricity bill at home has fallen from R8 000 to R3 000. Colen is now investigating buying a solar geyser to cut his bills further. 

WORK THOSE REWARDS 

Mishack aims to save money via his Absa rewards cash-back programme. By adding products such as an Absa will, marketing consent and loading a debit order for R250 savings a month he can reach Tier Level 4 and receive 6,5% cash back on fuel spend at Sasol garages and 6,25% on groceries.

TOP TIPS: START A BUDGET 

  • Download a budget template from the Money Makeover website at citypress. co.za or use one of the many budgeting apps available. 
  • Go through your bank statements for the past three months to understand where and how much you're spending so you have a realistic picture.
  • For the next few months carry a notebook and write down everything you spend, as you do so. That awareness alone will create a shift in how you spend your money.

Follow the journey on social media #CPMoneyMakeover

Facebook : @CPMoneyMakeover,

Twitter: @CPMoneyMakeover and on Instagram: @city_press

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