How do you become good with money?

Many people believe they will never be good with money, especially students. They don’t think they’ll ever have enough money or be able to live without debt. But this isn’t true. We can all be good with our money. We just need some knowledge, willingness to make changes and the willpower to keep up with good habits.

Unless you start trying to become good with your money, you’re never going to live a life free from debt. And when you do become financially savvy, suddenly you have options. Options to travel the world, take a break from working and make it through the month without having to worry about money. You’ll be able to chase your dreams, do the kind of work you love and live the kind of life you want. And who wouldn’t want that? Otherwise, all you’re doing is receiving and spending a pay cheque every month.

Luckily there are changes you can make and goals you can set which will ensure you’re able to handle the rollercoaster of life. No one ever said it would be easy. In fact, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But this is most definitely an area where it’s worth investing a little time and energy in making significant changes. So, here are some of the changes you could consider making in your life.

Get rid of your debt

First of all, you need to be sure of how much debt you have. Collect all of the notifications of outstanding debt and work out how much you owe. Now you need a plan for paying it off. It’s important that you start paying as much money as you can toward your debts. Paying merely the minimum amount required is no longer okay. In financial circles, there are two popular ways of tackling this. Either pay off the smallest debt first and work your way up toward the highest or pay off the debt with the highest interest rate and work your way down. The first method is beneficial if you feel the need to have a win early on in this process to encourage you to make these payments. The benefit of the second method is that you’ll avoid having to pay unnecessary interest fees. It’s up to you to decide which method will be most beneficial to you. To make paying off debt that little bit easier, try to find an additional source of income. A side hustle is key to financial success.

Reduce your spending

Two of the biggest expenses most people face every month is their home and car. Have a serious think about whether it’s possible to pay less in these two areas. If you do drive, do you need to? Is there public transport which you could use? Is there a way for you to move to a smaller home closer to your office? Next, think about the money you spend every day. Are you buying a coffee and lunch daily? Stop that. Instead, choose to make your own coffee and lunch daily. Just cutting these small things could already make a massive difference to your finances. Let’s estimate that you’re likely spending a minimum of R50 each day on these two things. That can’t be much, you think to yourself. But R50 every day works out to R1000 each month, and that could make a significant impact on your debt repayment.

Set up an emergency fund

Not knowing if you’ll be able to afford your next car repair or doctor’s appointment can be stressful. Life is, unfortunately, filled with those unexpected moments which do need to be planned for. And that’s where an emergency fund comes in. Financial experts recommend a fund of between three to six month’s’ expenses. If it’s difficult to find new work, as it can be in South Africa, it’s often recommended that you have at least a full year’s salary in this account. Then, should the worst happen and you lose your job, you’ll be protected? Another form of being protected is to ensure you have all the right insurance cover. Your home, car and income should all be covered. And spend some time researching whether you need to insure your life and whether you need to investigate options for funeral cover in South Africa.

Make your money work for you

Paying off debt and reducing your spending should leave you with some extra cash each month. And you should use this money to start investing. Don’t tell yourself that it’s not worth investing that R1000 you’re saving each month now that you’re not buying coffee and lunch every day. That money can grow. After 30 years of investing that money each month, it could be worth as much as R1.5 million. That sounds a lot more appetising than coffee and a sandwich. And once you feel comfortable investing that amount of money each month, you’ll want to find some more.

Cut out one expensive habit

We all have that one expense. And you might not even realise what yours is. Go through your bank statements from the past few months and analyse each debit. Do you really need that satellite TV subscription? How about that super speedy internet connection that you only ever use to look at your ex’s social media accounts? It might even be something as simple as going out for drinks every weekend, your cigarette habit or your obsession with buying sneakers. Your one big expensive habit can likely be cut and you can use that money to put toward your saving and investing goals.

Now that you’re making these choices about your money, you’re likely feeling a lot more confident about your money. You’ve cut down your debt, reduced your spending, started investing and are earning more money. In no time at all, you’ll be on the path to financial confidence and independence.

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