by Sylvia Walker, author of SmartWoman
Stuck in a financial rut? Maybe too much debt, too much retail therapy, too much of a people pleaser, too little money, or just not sure how to take control of it all? Financial freedom is within your grasp. By changing your outlook, you can change your life.
Face your realities and stop living in a dream world. The ‘fake it till you make it’ concept is utter nonsense when it comes to money, unless you want to be the best dressed defendant in the insolvency court! Know what’s coming in and what you are spending it on. A simple budget goes a long way towards understanding your financial priorities and making the right choices. Never spend more than you earn. It’s a recipe for disaster long term, and you may end up having to sell things that you need, just to survive.
Spend some time thinking about goals and dreams that you have for your life. Some of these may have financial implications. Be realistic though – I have heard people say, “I’m going to retire at age 45” but they do little to make plans to get there. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a pipe dream – good to have, but worth little at the end of the day. Goals must be realistic and achievable.
Get real – spend only what you earn – live the life you can afford.
So many of us walk around with heaps of baggage – whether its guilt because we are working or single mothers, issues from our childhood, guilt towards our parents, or other areas where we feel we need to compensate. Some of us are just people pleasers – do whatever it takes to keep the people around us happy, often ignoring our own needs.
Spending excessive amounts of money on our children, ourselves, or other people may feel like a quick fix, but long term, does little to address the issues that rattle around in our heads. We need to understand these, and seek professional help, if necessary.
A consequence of this, of course, is over compensating, or over spending, and this leads to other problems – you work hard, you earn good money, but feel that there’s little to show for it.
Ditch the guilt, the hatred, the regrets, the baggage. What is done is done and there is nothing you can do to change it.
Tackle the challenge of balancing career, children and a social life, and try to find some equilibrium and make some time for yourself. Set aside time to work on a plan to balance all aspects of your life. If your life is balanced, there is less guilt.
Realize that it’s not always about money. The richness of life comes from so many other aspects that we can offer to our fellow human beings – love, support, friendship to name but a few.
So, get rid – excess baggage just weighs one down. Remember: look forward – you cannot drive a car with your eyes permanently fixated on the rear-view mirror.
Rich is such a loaded word. We all have different ideas as to what it is. Firstly, we think of it in the financial sense, but one can also be rich in other aspects of your life – your health is arguably your greatest form of wealth, your relationships with other human beings is part of your wealth, your spirituality and feeling of self actualization, all form part of what we consider our wealth, or richness of life.
The financial aspect runs through all of this. Money is an enabler – it doesn’t make you happy to have lots of it, but rather, having enough of it allows you to do things that make you happy. The old cliché “money is a means to an end” is exactly that.
So how do we “get rich”? Face our financial realities, stop wasting money on unnecessary material things (such as salving our feelings of guilt), and set realistic savings goals. Instill the discipline of paying yourself first – before you pay anyone else, you pay yourself first, like you would with any other creditor.
Then you have to beat inflation! Inflation erodes the buying power of your money every year, so your investment must at least keep up with inflation or grow at a higher percentage, for you to get make money. Investment options range from a bank account (which will not deliver good long-term returns) to equities (which deliver excellent long-term returns). It’s a minefield, and professional advice is critical. A trained financial adviser or broker will be able to direct you to an appropriate investment
When it comes to getting rich, the recipe is simple. You must invest:
over a period of time so you benefit from compound interest
in an inflation beating investment
with a reputable company that will not disappear with your savings overnight
Three easy steps – get real, get rid and get rich – that will put you on the path to financial freedom and open up new vistas for your life.
Sylvia Walker is highly skilled and experienced in the financial services industry, having spent a large part of her career as a marketing manager for a blue-chip company. During this time, she worked closely with the media, conducting hundreds of presentations, doing radio and TV interviews and writing many articles for publications such as O, the Oprah magazine, Good Housekeeping / Goeie Huishouding, Sarie, The Mercury, Plus 50 and many others. She left the corporate world at the end of 2014 to pursue her interests further afield. She is also a published author. She contributed chapters on financial planning in Mary Ann Shearer’s Take Control the Natural Way and Nadia Bilchik and Lori Milner’s Own Your Space. She authored Dealing in Death – Ellen Pakkies and a Community’s Struggle with Tik and co-authored Steeped in Blood, the memoirs of Dr David Klatzow, which was shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award in 2011. She also co-authored and published Reflections for Old Mutual in 2013. Sylvia is currently a financial planner, writes articles, and conducts workshops on various aspects of financial literacy and planning. She is also the resident financial guru on the Cape Talk Early Breakfast Show, and is on air every Friday morning. Her latest book, SmartWoman, has just been published, and is a culmination of many years of experience in advising women on how to gain financial freedom and grow their wealth. SylviaWalker.co.za
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