For­get Janu-worry, fo­cus on be­ing fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble all year round

Plan early for var­i­ous hol­i­days, set up a sep­a­rate sav­ings ac­count

Sunday World - - Jobs - Syd­ney Sekese

Most South Africans are back at work and most schools have re­opened. It is now time to for­get Janu-worry and say hello to Janu-merry. For most, 2018 was a chal­leng­ing year in­deed and it felt as if Santa Claus was not the usual jovial fel­low.

There are, how­ever, sev­eral rea­sons to be cheer­ful and op­ti­mistic about the South African econ­omy. These in­clude:

■ The lights were on for most of the fes­tive sea­son – they will hope­fully stay on for some time. Eskom has ap­par­ently made progress in se­cur­ing new coal sup­ply con­tracts to en­sure it can keep our lights on.

■ The South African econ­omy is out of re­ces­sion. The coun­try has ex­ited a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion hav­ing grown by 2.2% for the third quar­ter of the year.

■ The rat­ings agen­cies have paused on their hawk-eyed view – there are signs that fur­ther down­grades are un­likely ahead of the Trea­sury’s Fe­bru­ary bud­get when it will be clearer if the eco­nomic re­vival strate­gies will work.

■ The lower fuel price. Re­search in­di­cates that the re­cent fuel price de­crease could add to eco­nomic growth by about 1%, which would fur­ther lead to lower in­fla­tion and lower in­ter­est rates. In this en­vi­ron­ment, con­sumers would then ex­pe­ri­ence im­proved dis­pos­able in­come.

■ Tourism pro­ce­dures have been re­viewed. Re­laxed visa reg­u­la­tions will be im­ple­mented in the near fu­ture, mak­ing travel to and from South Africa a lot eas­ier for busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers. This is a pos­i­tive step for SA tourism, which will boost eco­nomic growth fur­ther.

But we need to con­tinue to be fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble. The real se­cret to per­sonal finance isn’t some sort of fi­nan­cial mys­tery. It isn’t find­ing some loop­hole or dis­cov­er­ing some mag­i­cal “sys­tem” that will get your life in or­der. Rather, it’s about fol­low­ing straight­for­ward prin­ci­ples day in and day out that in­evitably guide you to a bet­ter fi­nan­cial state.

We also need to ad­dress the hol­i­day “black tax” as we ap­proach the Easter hol­i­days.

There is a trend in South Africa where many of us work far from where we grew up, and come the hol­i­day sea­son, we pack our bags and head back home. Spend­ing money on fam­ily is some­thing that’s ex­pected in African house­holds.

It’s preva­lent within the black cul­ture. I think it’s more about how you have been brought up and if you’re part of a fam­ily struc­ture where you’re ex­pected to re­cip­ro­cate in terms of giv­ing.

If you’re fi­nan­cially savvy, you would have planned for var­i­ous hol­i­days by now. As we con­tinue with our daily chores, we should keep in mind the up­com­ing Easter hol­i­days and the re­lated black tax.

It’s hard to say ‘no’ some­times to fam­ily, par­tic­u­larly around the time of the hol­i­day sea­sons be­cause ev­ery­one is in such a happy mood.

You don’t want to be dis­cussing bud­gets and funds. At the be­gin­ning of the year, try to set up a sep­a­rate sav­ings ac­count just for gift-giv­ing con­tri­bu­tions, and come hol­i­day sea­son, it’s hoped that the sav­ings ac­count would have ac­cu­mu­lated a rea­son­able amount. It boils down to plan­ning and bud­get­ing.

The South African Sav­ings In­sti­tute pro­vides the fol­low­ing log­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions for the hol­i­day sea­son:

■ If you did not save, don’t bor­row to spend.

■ If you did not bud­get for a hol­i­day sea­son’s trip, stay at home.

■ Make the sea­son’s gifts in­stead of buy­ing them, it lends more heart to the gift.

■ In­vest in money boxes for chil­dren.

■ Avoid buy­ing on im­pulse, re­sist those sale signs.

■ When you see sale, think SAVE.

Fi­nal thought, fail­ing to plan can re­sult in dev­as­tat­ing fi­nan­cial choices that could cause you to fall into debt. The best way to sur­vive the hol­i­day sea­son is to en­sure that you have enough money to get you through 2019.

Per­sonal finance suc­cess is a long march, and this is all about tak­ing good steps.

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