Liv­ing the mes­sage of #Con­spic­u­ousSav­ing

When celebri­ties start post­ing on so­cial me­dia that they’re eat­ing in to save money and shop­ping at bud­get cloth­ing stores, you could say it’s a sign of the tough eco­nomic times. But it’s more than that when they use their in­flu­ence to pro­mote a life­style

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

This week, ac­tress and model Pearl Thusi and award- win­ning rap­per Cassper Ny­ovest re­vealed that they’re us­ing their celebrity sta­tus to es­pouse the value of spend­ing less to save. The two have le­gions of fans: Thusi, who is 28, has al­most 725 000 fol­low­ers on Twit­ter and 923 000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram. Ny­ovest, who is 25, has 1.8 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Facebook and 939 000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram.

Since the be­gin­ning of July, which is Na­tional Sav­ings Month, their fans have been drip-fed a stream of mes­sages that show that these two are into sav­ing, not the con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion you would ex­pect of peo­ple liv­ing the high life. Ny­ovest, for ex­am­ple, has posted photos of him­self hav­ing his hair cut by a road­side barber, with the cap­tion, “As good as it gets and half the price”; and buy­ing his braai meat in bulk (cap­tion: “Buy­ing bulk = spend­ing less”). The re­sponse from fans has been off the charts, at­tract­ing thou­sands more com­ments, likes and shares than his run-of-the-mill posts.

“Re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate your be­ing real about money and how it should be spent wisely, hope the masses are lis­ten­ing,” com­mented tha_ceez on Twit­ter.

Thusi’s In­sta­gram post a week ago that “Rich peo­ple stay rich by liv­ing like they are broke. Broke peo­ple stay broke by liv­ing like they are rich,” at­tracted more than 4 300 likes and her sav­ings tips have also been a huge hit, show­ing that these mes­sages res­onate with au­di­ences.

Thusi’s sav­ings tips in­clude: cook­ing in bulk to save money and time; be­ing a smart shopper, in­clud­ing buy­ing items of cloth­ing sec­ond-hand (“If it has to be ex­pen­sive for you to feel good, you’re the prob­lem,” she says); mend­ing rather than re­plac­ing old clothes; DIY man­i­cures (to save a pretty packet and get in some qual­ity time with her daugh­ter); ditch­ing an ex­pen­sive gym mem­ber­ship to work out at home, which also saves petrol and time, and gives her more time with her daugh­ter.

“Thank you for this @pear­lthusi You are so real, stylish and beau­ti­ful. It’s about style not about the price tag,” said ab­bi­con­roy.

Could sav­ing be sexy? Could it be hip to be thrifty? When peo­ple you ad­mire are se­ri­ous about liv­ing within their means, would you be in­clined to im­i­tate them? San­lam reck­ons you would, and that sav­ing can be ap­peal­ing.

The fi­nan­cial ser­vices gi­ant is be­com­ing syn­ony­mous with novel ways to mark Sav­ings Month. San­lam was the force be­hind the One Rand Man and the One Rand Fam­ily, which were so­cial ex­per­i­ments that suc­cess­fully showed how be­ing more in touch (lit­er­ally) with money changes our per­spec­tive on money and in­flu­ences how we spend it.

This year, San­lam chose Thusi and Ny­ovest to work in part­ner­ship with the Con­spic­u­ous Sav­ing ini­tia­tive be­cause the celebri­ties be­lieve in the mes­sage.

Ny­ovest gives credit to his grand­par­ents for teach­ing him how to work with money. “They never bor­rowed money; ev­ery­thing they owned they worked for and paid for in cash. I would love this to be the new cul­ture in South Africa,” says the rap­per, who has no tol­er­ance for peo­ple who have en­ti­tle­ment is­sues or ex­pect hand-outs. He’s a big believer in hard work and “do­ing it for your­self ”.

Thusi also has a staunch work ethic and is a busi­ness woman in her own right – she has her own range of hair prod­ucts. She says she has a “good han­dle” on her fi­nances. In spite of her re­mark­able pro­fes­sional suc­cess (she has just landed a role in the sec­ond sea­son of the Amer­i­can TV se­ries Quan­tico), she con­sid­ers the role of mother and provider as her most im­por­tant role in life. She strives to teach her daugh­ter good val­ues, in­clud­ing how to look after money, which means be­ing a big saver rather than a big spender. San­lam be­lieves that tak­ing con­trol of your fi­nances and be­ing a “con­spic­u­ous saver” should hold more brag­ging rights than over-the-top spend­ing, Cora Fer­nan­dez, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of San­lam In­vest­ments: In­sti­tu­tional Busi­ness, says.

“The truth is that few of us can af­ford the glamorous life­styles we see pro­jected in the me­dia,” she says.

Com­pound­ing the prob­lem is that so­cial me­dia gives users a plat­form to craft an im­age of them­selves and their life­style that isn’t au­then­tic. Peo­ple don’t al­ways un­der­stand that when the so­cial me­dia user is a celebrity, they’re of­ten paid to en­dorse ex­pen­sive prod­ucts and ser­vices that the av­er­age per­son can’t af­ford.

Thusi says the life­style that her fans think she’s liv­ing is not en­tirely real. “What peo­ple don’t re­alise is that those beau­ti­ful dresses you see me wear­ing: I don’t own them; I’m just mod­el­ling them. The same goes for the ac­ces­sories. They aren’t mine. I couldn’t and wouldn’t spend that much on clothes and ac­ces­sories. There are more im­por­tant ex­penses, such as pay­ing ex­tra into my bond and sav­ing for my daugh­ter’s ed­u­ca­tion.”

Liv­ing in the spot­light comes with the ter­ri­tory, she says. “It comes with the ex­pec­ta­tion of the life I’m sup­posed to be liv­ing.”

Thusi says she de­cided to get in­volved in the “Con­spic­u­ous Sav­ing” ini­tia­tive when she re­alised that the more fru­gal side of her per­son­al­ity had been hid­den. “What I put on so­cial me­dia wasn’t the full pic­ture, and cre­ated the wrong im­pres­sion of me. As a role model, I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­able and em­power oth­ers in my com­mu­nity. It’s a re­spon­si­bil­ity I take se­ri­ously, and is the rea­son I jumped on board – to let my fol­low­ers see the other side of my world; the side where I make smart money choices and save ex­trav­a­gantly.”

It’s a pow­er­ful mes­sage in a coun­try where most con­sumers are liv­ing be­yond their means.

“If we con­stantly live be­yond our means we’ll never have enough money to af­ford the life­style we as­pire to. So it’s im­por­tant to make sav­ing a pri­or­ity, so we can turn our in­come into sus­tain­able wealth,” she says.

San­lam wants to en­able all South Africans to build wealth. It starts by spend­ing less in or­der to find money to in­vest.

Lo­cal celebri­ties Pearl Thusi and Cassper Ny­ovest have com­mit­ted them­selves to be­ing “con­spic­u­ous savers” rather than con­spic­u­ous spenders. Tak­ing sav­ing as se­ri­ously as she takes her self­ies, ac­tress and model Thusi bought a stylish jacket from a sec­ond-hand store. Award-win­ning hip-hop star Ny­ovest can af­ford to have his hair done by any­one he chooses. To save, he uses a road­side barber.

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