‘It started as a let me spoil myself a little’ - 5 money tips for the happy spender

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Friends shopping together.
Friends shopping together.

Fashion stylist Tsakane Ndlovu tucked away her bank card for a month and these are the money lessons she learnt. This is her story:

I grudgingly accepted the challenge because I knew that at some point I’d have to stop spending my money like I’m spinning out of control, when I’m actually not.

If my bank card could cry every time I pull it out, it would — without a shadow of doubt—cry for help [chuckles]!

A part of me blames my dad for this because I think I inherited this spending habit from him. My dad goes into the shop to get one item and walks out with 10. I always thought it was funny, but little did I know that I’d turn out just like him.

I remember this one instance where he had a sore throat and said he wanted to make a quick stop at Dis-Chem to get some Strepsils. Needless to say, he walked out with the entire pharmacy in a plastic bag.

He had bought medication for everyone in the house, for literally all sorts of ailments. And that’s exactly what I do, I walk into Clicks to buy toileteries and leave with two plastic bags of sweets, chocolate and wet wipes.

Every month I draw up a budget, but never seem to get it right. I spend 60 percent according to the plan and the other 40 percent goes towards living my best life.

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My impulsive spending has escalated to a point where it is affecting my future plans — which include travelling and studying further.

Where it all started

When I started my job as a fashion and beauty assistant, I literally spent 80 percent of my time at the mall and was always exposed to all sorts of temptation.

It started as a “let me spoil myself a little” by buying an expensive slice of cake, which cost R70, which is ridiculous.

All in all, this challenge forced me to be disciplined and was honestly one of hardest things I have ever agreed to. At some point, I actually regretted accepting it.

Strategies

A week after I accepted the challenge, I lost my bank card, so instead of replacing it immediately, I delayed the process of getting a new one. I was without a card for almost three weeks, which really helped even though it felt weird.

Sometimes I would go to the stores and shop up a storm only to remember when I got to the till that I had no means of paying [chuckles]. Returning the goods to their respective shelves was always so embarrassing — oh, that walk of shame but it saved from spending unnecessarily.

Cheating

Yes, of course I cheated *hides face* when I was in at Sandton City one afternoon. That mall is the devil, by the way, I was returning merchandise after a photo shoot. While I walking around Mr Price, I saw these really cool earphones, which I had to have. Because I had lost mine, I thought, ‘oh well, buying them won’t hurt anyone’.

But deep down, I knew I didn’t really need them because my colleague, Palesa Vilakazi had lent me a pair, and had said I could use them for as long as I needed to. After buying the earphones, I immediately opened them, with great excitement, only to find that they weren’t as cool as I thought.

So, I put them back in the plastic bag. And guess where they are now? At home, just lying there—R89,99 later.

Lessons learnt

I learnt so much about myself in this process. I learnt about the power of the mind because each time I’d say, “No Tsaki’’ it would oblige. I control my mind. I’m also learning that if it’s not on my budget, then it’s not urgent or important — and I can always get it later.

I also learnt that I’m an emotional spender; when I’m stressed retail therapy makes everything so much better. A colleague introduced me to Pastor Michael Todd, and each time I listen to his YouTube sermons, I feel like I can take over the world and forget about splurging.

Going forward

I plan to have less cash in my wallet and to leave my bank card at home sometimes. That really helps. Having just enough cash on me, means that I’ll use the money wisely.

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Thuli Nkomo, financial advisor at NFB Private Wealth Management, shares tips on cultivating good money habits

1. Budget

Draw up a budget that reflects your income and expenditure. Ensure that the essentials that need to be paid monthly are first on the list, followed by less crucial payments.

2. Pay off unhealthy debts

You need to pay off the short-term debts that have high interest rates, such as clothing accounts and short-term loans. Paying off these debts will free up some cash in your budget.

High interest accounts wreak havoc on your finances, so learn this well: if you can’t afford to pay for it in cash, you can’t afford it at all. Don’t take out debt to buy food and to finance your living expenses!

3. Save for the future

It’s a good idea to cultivate discipline around saving for the future. Planning ahead means being prepared for the proverbial “rainy day”.

You should have an emergency savings fund where you have saved at least three full months’ salaries.

Saving for retirement is crucial, as you’ll be living off your savings, so it’s quite important that you’re saving to provide for your old age.

Part of your future might also include saving for your kids’ education. This should be done early so you can avoid taking out loans to fund their tertiary education.

4. Set financial goals

Setting realistic financial goals that you’ like to achieve in the short-, medium- and long term, is a good practice because you get to have a vision on where you’d like to see yourself financially.

A short-term goal could be something as simple as sticking to your budget, and results in your paying off all short-term debts in one year.

Medium-term goals could be a deposit for a house or a car.

Long term goals include savings for retirement or education – yours, or your children’s.

5. Consult a financial planner

Getting professional help will help you have a healthy relationship with your finances.

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