OFTEN, I meet people who will unequivocally say money is not really important to them. However, when you really start to look closer at their lives you immediately realise what they are saying is just a decoy for what is truly happening to them. Most of their useful time is spent looking for money through various means.
One of the objectives of this column is to demystify money and enable us to have a healthy relationship with it. It is essential to clearly understand your attitudes and values toward money so that you may be more able to gain control of money instead of it controlling you.
They say money is a good servant but a terrible master. If we master how to handle it properly it will serve us with dignity and enrich our lives. For many people you can discuss with them every part of their life but the management of their finances is a no go area. Money is simply a tool that measures the value of goods and services exchanged between people. It is a means to an end but not an end in itself.
Those of us in employment expect to be paid in direct proportion to the value we deliver according to the marketplace we operate in. Many of us labour under the belief maybe rightly so, that we deliver better value than we are currently paid for.
From our childhood money management has been a subject that has traditionally been swept under the carpet and was considered improper to talk about it. Many of us form attitudes to money from childhood experiences, circumstances, and parental attitude towards money.
Do you constantly compare your financial situation with others particularly from our own communities or those we grew up with? If your whole financial plan is just to keep up with the Marujatas then it means you do not have any plan. A plan should be individually constituted, based on your own potential taking into account your specific circumstances. Have you defined for yourself what you expect to make per month, per year or in ten years? If you are perpetually and secretly afraid that will lose everything you have worked for it means your relationship with money is base on fear. It is therefore very unhealthy.
Years ago when we were still in university back in the eighties it was Charles Katsande, I think who coined the term broke soon after payout (BSAP) to describe a group of students who got separated from their payout as soon as they received it. They would spend it like there was no tomorrow then for the rest of the semester they would beg from other students for daily needs. Unfortunately some of us took that prostituted relationship with money into adult life.
Having a healthy relationship with money means if finances are tight you in cooperate family activities that don’t involve a lot of money into your social life. Eating at home, going out for a walk, having a picnic in the park or at the beach, playing a game like monopoly at home, are some ways of enjoying quality time with your family without spending a lot of money.
One of the most important, yet neglected life skills that everyone must deal with is money management. The ability to properly manage personal finances is a skill that develops over a lifetime. Many people end up playing catch-up with their financial education, often after accumulating piles of debt and little savings.
The way we handle money speaks volumes about our values, our beliefs about our world, ourselves, and those around us. Bad financial management is often the source of financial trouble that many people land into. Having money does not end financial concerns but managing your money effectively, does. Money management skills and good financial practices are needed no matter how much or how little money you have.
A good personal finance management system helps you to know where your money goes, how to save money for your goals, plan your spending in advance, know exactly where you need to put some controls, manage your financial records and effectively plan what you want to do with money. Financial failures mostly do not arise from the lack of knowledge or skills; they come from lack of discipline and lack of organization and prioritization of financial tasks.
Personal budgeting is about managing your finances through a spending plan. It is one of the effective ways of achieving your financial goals and dealing with most of your money problems. The main purpose of preparing a budget is to ensure you live within your means, stay out or get out of debt, spend your money wisely, reach your financial goals, prepare for unexpected expenses and build financial discipline. If the net numbers of your budget is negative you can seek to increase your income, decreasing your expenses, or a combination of the two.
For easier management of your expenses through a personal budget, you can classify your expenses as either fixed, variable or Discretionary. Fixed expenses are expenses that remain unchanged every month such as house rent or mortgage, or pension payments. Variable expenses are expenses that fluctuate depending on household needs, time of the year, health, economic conditions and such factors. These expenses include items such as food and clothing. Discretionary expenses are expenses for things you can live without.
Personal financial statements allow you to measure your financial progress, report your current financial position in relation to the value of the assets you own and the debts you owe. They also permit you to measure your progress toward your financial goals, maintain information about your financial activities and provide information for preparing tax submissions or applying for a bank loan.
John D. Rockefeller, once said: “Those who have leisure time to spend pursuing their passions and dreams experience the real wealth in life.” Whatever your level of income, if you live below your means, invest wisely, and live modestly are on the path to growing wealth leading to financial freedom.
Tafirenyika L. Makunike is the chairman and founder of Nepachem cc (www.nepachem.co.za), an enterprise development and consulting company. He writes in his personal capacity