Violet was the winner of the 1Life Win a Financial Makeover competition. That means she has had seven sessions with me, Winnie Kunene, Money Psychologist and trustee on the board of Truth About Money. You can get to know Violet by reading the earlier blogs about our first six sessions, and then read on to discover the lessons she’s learnt on her Financial Makeover.
Violet and I have come to the end of our journey together. When we started out, she was afraid and overwhelmed and couldn’t see her way out of the financial mess she was in. She was being hounded by her creditors and didn’t have the money to pay them back, or even to cover her own expenses each month.
What Violet did have going for her, although she didn’t know it yet, was an iron determination to make a change and to stick to it. Together, we worked out her budget, and considered what items she could live without, and where she needed to make lifestyle changes.
Now here’s the amazing thing about Violet: after we had set the plan in motion, she didn’t falter – not once. Nothing deterred her. She has done exactly what she needed to do, with wisdom and insight, every step of the way.
Done with debt! Tackling her debt has been our sole mission. We used the snowball method, which involves paying additional money into the smallest debt to get rid of it first. This provides the motivational boost to move on to the next smallest debt, and the one after that. So far, Violet has got rid of her first debt with Ackermans, which started out at R5 091 six months ago and now has a zero balance.
Paying back this debt in full, has freed up extra money so that Violet can tackle her next debt, and also start to save some money into an emergency fund. Her next debt is to Jet and she currently owes R3 736. She can now afford to pay back R1 500 per month, which means she’ll be done with this debt by June. And I know she can do it.
She’s now started putting away R300 per month into an emergency fund so that if any financial problem comes up, she doesn’t need to go into debt to deal with it. This will give Violet peace of mind, and is especially important, because she looks after her younger brother.
Here’s our final look at Violet’s debt situation:
|Creditor||Before Oct Pmts||Paid in Oct||Paid in Nov||Paid in Dec||Paid in Jan||Paid in Feb||Paid in March||Balance now owing|
|Creditworx/ University||7 000.82||400||400||400||400||400||400||4 600|
|VVM-Game account||9 811.88||400||400||400||400||400||400||7 412|
|Jet||9 636.01||1 000||1 000||1 000||1 700||1 000||1 500||2 436|
|Ackermans||4 841.31||1 000||1 000||1 000||1 000||841||0||0|
What Violet learntAt our final meeting, I asked Violet what lessons she had learnt from this process. This is what she had to say:
Don’t be tempted to shop
She says she no longer hangs out at the mall or even shops for herself. She sends her fiancé shopping so she won’t be tempted. If she needs to buy clothes for her brother and they cost more than she can afford, she puts them aside on layby, and pays for them over a few months without going into debt. And, as soon as she pays back each of her debts, she will cut up the relevant store card.
Make it harder to spend
Violet has cancelled her cellphone banking facility, so she doesn’t spend money she doesn’t have on airtime and data. She draws the money that she is allowed to spend from an ATM, and when it’s gone, that’s that.
“I live within what I earn. If it happens that I don’t have jam, and I don’t have the cash to buy it, I simply eat my bread without it,” she says.
No more sugary beverages
Violet’s new-found discipline has even had an effect on her health. One of the expenses she cut back on was cooldrink, which she used to buy in 2l bottles on special to keep at home.
“I stopped drinking cooldrink to save money, but I also learnt how unhealthy sugar is, and ended up being much healthier and losing weight,” she says. “Drinking cooldrink was just an expensive and unhealthy lifestyle choice.”
Debt helps people to live a lie.
You can change your attitudes around money
Violet has come to realise that living the high life that’s built on debt is no life at all. “Debt helps people to live a lie. There may be some good debt, but my debt was all bad.”
She says that retail accounts help you to buy clothes that make you feel good, but that feeling fades quickly, and then you go back and buy more. “Clothes are not an asset in your pocket – they are a liability. If you continue to be comfortable with retail debt, it becomes part of who you are and then you are destined to be poor for the rest of your life.”
She says that the desire to please others is no longer on her agenda. She has also learnt to differentiate between a need and a want, and to save up for something she needs if she doesn’t have enough money to buy it.
“You can live without debt. This will allow you peace of mind and you’ll be able to live your life without dodging calls from debt collectors.”
For the rest of her life The lessons that Violet has learnt will serve her well, not only as she pays back the remainder of her debts, but for the rest of her life. Violet learnt the hard way how bad over-indebtedness can be for your wellbeing, and this will stay with her forever.
“I want to stay within these boundaries all the time,” she says. “I enjoy the new, simple and strict lifestyle that I now live.”
Violet’s financial makeover might be done, but her financial future is only just beginning. I’ll be sure to check in with her from time to time, and I’m always a phone call away if she needs help or reassurance, but I am confident that she’s on the right track.
To Violet, I say: I am proud of you. I am awed by your commitment and determination. I believe that whatever life throws at you, you now have the ability to solve it for yourself. You’ve got this!