January marks the start of both a new year and a fresh exciting new decade with many challenges and surprises which you may be faced with. It’s also a time to renew your financial wisdom for the year ahead.
“So, as we wrap up 2019 and prepare to set off into the roaring 20s, I found myself pausing to reflect on the key Financial lessons that life has taught me thus far.”
THE REAL DANGER OF YOUR DEBT
One of my hardest lessons has been the importance of getting rid of unnecessary debt and doing your best to repay your debt as quickly as possible, which in my view is very difficult to get rid of.
Growing up, my family really struggled with their finances and built up all sorts of debt through loans. Not that they were living above their means they did not have great jobs and could barely keep the household afloat, only provide for the bare minimum. Having children to care for didn’t help, and has meant the standard of living and quality of life were non-existent at all?
That was the most difficult time of my life, and I vowed from that moment on to always be cautious with debt. To this day, the only loan I have is a Home loan, and YES, a Credit Card (who don’t have one of these nowadays) so whenever I incur debt, I always make sure to pay it off as quickly as possible at least within 55 days at most, many people underestimate just how much money you can save in interest charges by repaying debt more quickly.
THE BEST DEFENCE AGAINST WASTEFUL SPENDING – FINANCIAL WISDOM
Having a clear-cut budget has helped me tremendously, as I now know exactly where my money is going, what my limits are on spending, and where I need to cut back.
Without a budget, it is difficult to monitor your spending, and many South Africans overspend perhaps without even realising it.
According to the 2019 Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor, for example, 72% of the South African households surveyed were unable to consistently make ends meet every month, as their expenses outpaced their incomes.
The best part is that creating a budget is actually very simple. All you need is a pen and paper, or you can also create a spreadsheet on your computer or use one of the many free apps that are available – whatever works best for you.
Your first step, then, is to record all your expenses for one month. Next, group these expenses together, look for any problem areas, and set yourself some spending limits, remembering other financial goals such as saving and investing must be the main priority, and importantly let a Financial Advisor expertly advise and look at the prepared budget from an expert point of view?
THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM EFFECT
Before I started working in the financial services industry, I knew little or did not know of any savings instruments that can be used to save towards a specific goal? I am grateful to have been exposed to many more types of savings vehicles since then and have been able to pick investments much more suited to me and my individual needs, preferences, and goals.
Most importantly, I have learned that it doesn’t matter how small your initial contribution is, but rather that the key to success is to begin making a start and save to invest as early as possible. In my experience, the sooner you begin investing, the more your wealth can grow through capital growth, interest, and dividends.
For first-time investors, a good place to start is to consider investing in a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Unit Trust investment through a LISP or LIFE wrapper. Every person can invest up to a maximum of R33,000 each year (or R2,750 a month), and up to R500,000 over their lifetime in a TFSA without paying a single cent in tax on your investment’s growth and returns. This means that the investments are free of taxes such as Capital Gains Tax, and taxes on the interest and dividends earned, giving my savings a powerful boost over time.
As a parent, you too can invest in a TFSA on behalf of your children. The TFSA investment that you make will count towards each child’s lifetime limit for this investment only, by starting the investment for your child/children early, can give them an 18 – 20-year advantage before the children would be able to use his own earnings to save.
GIVE, AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE
Give, and you shall receive. I believe this wholeheartedly, and I have seen this tenet at work in my own life, as well as in the lives of those around me.
There are so many people in our country who do not have the means to see to their own basic human needs, and with the holidays being here, this is the perfect time to give back to those who are less fortunate – whether this be a gift of your time through volunteer work, clothes, food or a financial donation.
Those who make financial donations to recognised Public Benefit Organisations (PBO) may also be able to claim a tax deduction, making donating a win-win.
In order to claim a tax deduction, the PBO needs to have received approval from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and must provide the donor with a Section 18A certificate confirming your donation. A list of approved PBOs is available on the SARS website.
Deductions for donations to PBOs are limited to 10% of your taxable income, and not many people can afford to give money. But again, if you don’t have money, you can give in other ways, including the sharing of experiences and investment knowledge to help others get into healthy financial shape for the new decade.
Please speak to a trusted Financial Advisor to assist you with advice on how best a PBO Donation could assist you with your personal tax planning within your estate?
PLAN, PLAN, PLANNING
Lastly, I entrust you take charge of your Financial Planning needs and engage me on the topics on hand and offer my assistance in this regard to see how best I can guide you on your journey to financial wellness?
Looking forward to connecting with you in 2020.