If you follow me on any social media platforms you will know that I am friends with the Financial Fitness Bunnie, Nicolette Mashile. People have made many assumptions about our friendship, but perhaps one of the surprising facts about our friendship is that I don’t always agree or follow all of the advice that she shares on her page – and that is actually something that she advocates, that we all find what works for us personally when it comes to our finances.
One of the first steps she always gives during her talks and on her page is that we need to be honest about our finances and I have found that this is probably the one step that most people ignore. People assume that there is only one truth about their finances and that truth is that they are broke, but (as she will tell you) that is lazy. I have found that being honest about my finances has helped me on my own personal financial journey and here is how I did it.
I monitored my spending without implementing any changes
It was necessary for me to find out what exactly I am spending my money on during the course of one month and see whether it was matching the budget that I had created for myself. How much am I spending on food and does it correspond to the amount that I had set in my budget?
I became more realistic with my financial goals
When setting our financial goals we often set very big goals against the most impossible parameters such as short timelines/deadlines or income that we are not certain about. I realised that if I struggle to set aside an additional R2000 per month, then I have no business going for an apartment that it R2000 more expensive than where I am currently living. I found that it is easier to stick to my financial goals this way and I don’t resent myself for having goals that are bigger than any financial commitment that I can make right now.
I stopped not holding myself to account to myself
I was talking to a friend about how helpful stokvels are when it comes to commitment. I find that I commit to them easily because I am accountable to other people rather than when I am saving on my own. It is so much easier to spend my money and tell myself that I will just put double into my savings the next month. I realised that I will not change my finances if I do not hold myself accountable to myself in the same way that I easily and diligently hold myself to account when other people are involved. It is MY money after all so I should be more accountable to myself for it.
I set a limit for my family
For us as black people, in most cases it is almost expected of you to pitch in when it comes to your family. I found that I can always run away from it and to be quite honest, I don’t want to. What has helped me is being honest about how far I can go in terms of helping. Towards the end of last year, we embarked on a project to renovate my grandmother’s house and having those boundaries for how much I am able to contribute saved me from starting the year off in financial ruin.
There are obviously many interventions we can take to make us more honest with our finances, these are just the few that have helped me.