Did you make a New Year’s resolution at the stroke of midnight? If so, you are among the millions who use this tradition as an opportunity to change their life for the better in the coming year. We spoke to eight South Africans who have resolved to take better care of their finances in 2016. Their original ideas and approaches show that South Africans are a truly resilient bunch and that where there’s a will, there’s a way get things done.
Tammy is a working single mother with a teenage son. What with the stresses of raising a child and holding down a job, she struggles to find the time to plan and shop for nutritious, home-cooked meals. As a result, they eat out a lot. In 2016, she’ll allocate weekend time to planning meals so they won’t need to eat out so often. She is also considering cooking classes to help expand her cooking repertoire.
Tracey has two sons, the older of whom will start formal schooling in 2017. Since this year will be the last time that her family can take a holiday out of peak season, she and her husband have prioritised a trip to Mauritius and are saving towards this goal. It will mean hard work and living frugally, but they are determined to do it.
Every year, Amanda starts out with the best of intentions and writes a budget that reflects her monthly income, expenses, planned savings and disposable income. So far so good, but she says that she struggles to stick to it because she doesn’t allow for unexpected or irregular expenses – like replacing car tyres – and those quickly add up. This year she plans to write a more detailed budget and revisit it every month to make sure it remains current.
Thabang knows that the key to financial success is to spend less than you earn. Unfortunately, he likes nice, new things, so he falls into the trap of borrowing money because it’s so easy to get credit. His resolution for 2016 is to make sure he doesn’t spend money he doesn’t actually have.
Lynette lives in a semi-rural area, and her neighbourhood has a Facebook page. She has started buying meat from one person, eggs from someone else and vegetables from a local farmer. She says that it makes a huge difference to her budget because trading locally is cheaper than buying from the shops. More importantly, she says, buying locally keeps her out of the shops, and she buys less when she’s tempted less.
Rachel is a self-employed journalist and researcher and her goal for 2016 is to maintain her income, but work fewer hours. She plans to work more efficiently so that she can spend more time on personal projects and with her family.
Cristal knows that paying extra into her bond will reduce the time that it takes her to pay it back and the amount of interest that she’ll pay over the term of the bond. But she finds that she always spends her spare cash on everything but her home loan! To force herself to make the extra payments, she has identified two months of the coming year in which she won’t spend on anything else until she’s paid more into her bond.
Polly knows that if she wants to save money she has to learn to differentiate between wants and needs. When we want something, it’s very easy to convince ourselves that we need it, so it’s vital that we learn to take some time to think about whether a purchase is really necessary. That’s what Polly’s going to be doing in 2016. Most of the time anyway, because we all need a little treat every now and again.
Whether you recognise yourself in some of these New Year’s resolutions, or made one that’s entirely different, we wish you all the best with formulating your goals and sticking to your plan in the months to come. Let’s hope that in 12 months’ time, you’re financially fit and healthy thanks to your New Year’s Resolution.