Our family has a game where we write down what we would do with our money if we won the Lotto. This is not just a fruitless exercise of “what if”, because what it does is show us what is important to us and what our dreams really are.
Apart from the obvious ones like paying off a mortgage, there are always value-based ideas that are different for each person.
For example, I realised that the portion I would give to charity if I won the Lotto would be to help more children to receive an education. Education is important to me, so rather than waiting to “win the Lotto”, I started a monthly debit order to benefit the Peninsula School Feeding Association, which feeds children in the Cape Peninsula.
With food in their stomachs, children are better able to learn, and knowing they have a meal waiting for them at school makes them more likely to go to school. I didn’t need to win the Lotto to start making a difference.
On the pure luxury side, I want to be able to fly business class when I travel abroad. If you have compared the cost of a business class ticket to an economy one, you will realise you’ll need serious cash to reach this goal.
I thought about it for a while and realised I could do this using air miles. As I fly a fair amount locally for work, by committing myself to one airline for all my local travel, I could clock up enough points to upgrade to a business class ticket at least every second year.
Then I realised I could boost these points further by opting for a credit card tied to the airline’s rewards programme. This meant I could upgrade my husband’s ticket too, rather than have him sitting behind the curtain in economy – which may have been a marriage breaker.
So this week I signed up for a credit card that will boost my points (it was easy to do, although the questions about my living expenses were laughable – but that is for another column).
I will pay the amount I spend each month on average into the credit card at the beginning of the month. This means I am not going to end up with a massive credit card bill. My goal here is to work the system – not have the system work me. By focusing all my spending on the single card, I can work on my goal to travel business class without winning the Lotto – the odds are in my favour.
So how about playing “if I won the Lotto” and finding innovative ways to fund your dreams. Here are a few ideas. Join your local school’s governing board and help improve the school. Find out about bursary schemes at the schools you feel are right for your child. Consider extra lessons if you want to supplement your child’s education.
Have you noticed how many competitions there are for family holidays? Spend a year entering all the ones you can find. Make sure they are legit and set up an email address to use for this purpose so you don’t get spammed.
Ditto on the new car. Start
entering competitions. Start a tax-free savings account in their name. If you put just R500 away each month into a fund growing at 10% a year, it would be worth R380 000 in 20 years – all tax free.
There are so many charities and not-for-profit organisations that need time more than money. Offer your time and skills.
There are many options here. Firstly, if you save 20% of your salary and invest in a fund that returns about 10% a year, you will have a year’s salary put away within four years. There are volunteer programmes worldwide where you get free food and lodging for helping to build a school, for example – so you get to travel and do good. Do a six-month house swap or build up a reputation as a trustworthy house-sitter and sign up with a global house-sitting service. Start investigating – the options will amaze you.
No matter how much money you win in the Lotto, you will be back in the same position in just a few years.
If you are not managing your money now, you never will.
Start by cutting up those store cards and credit cards and committing a few hundred rand extra each month to repaying your debts. You will be amazed at how quickly your finances improve.