I do not come from an affluent family. My parents were not highly educated people, but my father was wise in the ways of the world and I was his student. The lessons that he taught me from when I was a little girl have made it possible for me to establish myself financially in life.
When I was young, my father retired from his job as a domestic worker and set up his own business selling wood and coal. I was his shadow – I followed him everywhere as he delivered wood to shops and coal to private houses. Because of my interest, he gave me a portion of what he earned.
When I was eight years old, he took me to the bank to open my first savings account. Every Thursday he would take me in to deposit my week’s takings. I had a savings book and I learnt the joy of watching my money grow.
I learnt so much from those childhood visits to the bank. I learnt that you can have a relationship with your bank manager. I learnt the power of budgeting because my father would ask me how much I was saving and how much I was planning to spend. I learnt that saving consistently is as important as breathing oxygen. I learnt the power of budgeting to help me understand where my money was going. I learnt patience. I learnt the power of generosity because my father would make me share 5% of my savings with those who had none. And I learnt to be honest about money.
But the most important lesson of all was that I learnt the power of goals. When you are saving, you have to have a goal to provide you with a compelling reason to keep going back to the bank. This helped me to set my mantra: “If you don’t have goals, you will continue to fulfil the goals of those who have them.”
My brothers were jealous of my relationship with my father, but they weren’t willing to learn from him. They loved to have fun, and spent all their money as soon as they received it. Their careers were characterised by the “It’s not my job” syndrome, and they didn’t get far in life, while I learnt that work is love in action. I went on to get a degree at Wits, and then studied further at Harvard. Today, I’m a businesswoman, and a money and life strategist. And I love what I do.
Because I got into the habit of saving from an early age, I’ve always been a forward thinker. Instead of seeking instant gratification, I have learnt to wait in anticipation for the things I really want. I say no to smooth sales talk, and my first car was bought cash.
Although I have achieved greater career success in life than my father, I am who I am today because of him. I am proud to walk in his footsteps, and every day, and I am grateful to him for the lessons he taught me.
Winnie Kunene is known by her followers as a money psychologist. She educates and helps people to get out of debt – and stay out! You can visit her website at winniekunene.co.za or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life or its employees.