09 Jul 2013
July is National Savings month in South Africa, but worryingly many South Africans save very little, or nothing at all.
“South Africans have a bad track record of saving which puts them at great risk should anything unexpected happen, such as losing a job, this also means that there is nothing put away for retirement one day,” says Eunice Sibiya, head of Consumer Education at FNB.
Sibiya suggests that South Africans need a mind-shift, away from a culture of spending and debt, to one of responsibility and savings.
The key to saving is having financial plans and goals, you are the only one with control over your own finances, points out Sibiya.
“You need to know what your short, medium and long term financial goals are and you can work these out by drawing up a budget and sticking to it.”
A short-term goal is one that comes up in the next couple of months up to 2 years, such as buying a pair of shoes, furniture or planning a holiday.
A medium term goal is one which needs more consideration and a longer period to save, such as deposit on a house, car or saving for your children’s education.
A long term goal is the most important, such as your future retirement and you need to ensure you are putting away sufficient amount of money so that you are able to retire comfortably at an older age, she explains.
“It is not about the salary that is earned every month, but how that money is used to better your financial position,” says Sibiya.
Budgeting is essential for day-to-day living, but also important for saving.
Sibiya says that one should budget to save, in other words, include a portion of your salary every month as an item on your budget to put away, rather than waiting until the end of the month to see what is left over.
Include a savings amount in your budget and ensure it is transferred into your savings or investment account. An easy way to do this is to transfer the money yourself, or set up a debit order, she says.
“Make it one of the first debit orders that go off your account every month.
“This way, you’re guaranteed of putting something away for your savings every month,” says Sibiya.
Importantly, savings need to be placed in a savings vehicle, such as a bank account where it is safe and earns interest.
There are many good savings vehicles in South Africa such as saving accounts which can be individual or group or investment accounts like fixed deposit, money market, unit trust, government bonds and shares.
“Don’t be tempted to keep your savings in cash -because of the nature of inflation, the cash that you put away will not keep up with inflation, meaning that it will not be worth as much in the future.”
Another way to save money is to watch your monthly spending and identify areas where you can cut down, or try not to buy non-essential and unplanned items such as expensive shoes or dinners.
“You don’t have to cut these out completely, rather plan smarter,” says Sibiya.
She suggests including these in your budget and saving towards them, instead of impulsively spending money.
Sibiya says that parents should teach their children to save from an early age.
“It’s good for you because it will give you peace of mind, and even better for your children because knowing how to save is a life skill.
“Encourage them to work for their pocket money.”
Help them learn that making a financial decision is about weighing the value of one thing against another and choosing which one to forego in favour of the other – needs versus wants.
Open saving accounts for them as early as possible and help them start their future on the right footing, says Sibiya.
The best thing you can do is to start saving consistently and conscientiously from the day you get your first job.
Put aside some of your income every month in a safe investment, and this will go a long way for your future. Be financially smart, she adds.
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