CityPress - - Business - I want a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion for my chil­dren. I want to take my fam­ily on an over­seas hol­i­day. I want a new car. I want to leave my chil­dren an in­her­i­tance. I want to change the world. I want to take a year off and travel the world. I want to be debt f

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.

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