What last year's Money Makeover contestants learnt


On October 8, we launch the 2017 Money Makeover competition in conjunction with Absa, and then take six candidates through a financial transformation.

Our 2015/16 Money Makeover highlighted that improvement is possible if you’re brave enough to take the first step. Within a short space of time our candidates had managed to pay off most of their short-term debts, started emergency funds and investments, and created long-term financial plans. We catch up with some of them to see if they’re still financially free.


Charles, an agriculture lecturer in Adelaide, Eastern Cape, was finally able to pay off a revolving credit loan facility that he had had since 2010, due to proper budgeting, prioritising and financial advice.

“This loan had a high interest and was negatively affecting my disposable income but, thanks to monetary discipline and financial advice, I was able to close it. Through the help of my financial adviser, I have learnt the value of budgeting. I have been able to consistently formulate a realistic budget on a month-to-month basis, which I never did before. This has improved accounting for my income, allowing me to identify areas of wasteful expenditure. I am amazed that, after just one year, I am free from bad debt and have been able to make such positive and significant changes in my finances. I believe I am more financially stable than I was a year ago and more equipped to work towards financial independence in the next three to five years.”


Izimangaliso, a director of finance, managed to close her store cards and pay off her credit card in just six months. She also started an emergency fund and found extra money by reviewing her car and home insurance.

“Little did I know that I would learn so much and drastically improve my financial position. I have achieved more than I thought I could. I have managed to be disciplined in terms of my spending, watching every rand that leaves my account. I scrutinise my bank statement monthly to check out any unauthorised deductions or high bank charges. I have learnt the importance of planning, budgeting, living within one’s means and the real meaning of delayed gratification.”


Omphile worked as a helicopter pilot in the Western Cape and, although he did not have debts, his goal was to create a financial plan in order to build wealth for his future.

“I have learnt to ‘pay myself first’ and saving is now part of my monthly budget. My savings are across cash, equities and property. I also learnt that an emergency fund is vital due to the unpredictability of daily life. Without it, my monthly budget would be in jeopardy as there is always something, usually family related, that requires immediate funds. Sticking to a budget was a big lesson and easier said than done but I am now in a much better position to be able to achieve my dreams and change my life for the better. For me the most important lesson is what all of these changes mean for my future. It taught me that my dreams do not just have to be dreams but can become a reality. Because of that realisation, I now have a plan on paper and I can tick off the milestones as I go along. I also know that if, due to unforeseen circumstances, the plan changes, I can always get back on track. Scary as it is to put your life in the public sphere, being part of the competition was worth it.”


Dipolelo worked in the field of rural development in Pretoria before changing jobs to work for a bank. He paid off his clothing accounts in just two months and his furniture account in six months. He increased instalments into his mortgage and wrote up a will to protect his fiancée and son.

“There’s no doubt that if it was not for this competition I would not have achieved those goals because I was not financially educated before this. For instance, I kept making extra money but using it on unimportant things like entertainment and buying stuff without budgeting for it. I have learnt so much, like understanding the implications of the financial decisions you make. For example, the actual cost of interest when you buy clothes and furniture on credit, when you could have bought with cash. Also, that even a small amount added to a bond instalment makes a huge difference towards reducing the term of your bond. It’s also important to understand the tax implication of any investment plan you opened.”

  • Next week we reveal the new set of Money Makeover candidates and start following their individual journeys on #MoneyMakeover
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