In the past week, I have been connecting with our Money Makeover contestants.
What struck me the most is how many of the contestants commented on the effect that sorting out their finances was having on other aspects of their lives.
They talk about having more energy for other things, like looking after themselves physically and emotionally.
One of our candidates, Amanda, says that, for the first time since her husband’s death, she has the confidence and energy to start a DIY blog, and 26-year-old Samke says she is looking after her body, and, for the first time in ages, is reading again.
READ: Meet the Money Makeover candidates
Whether we like it or not, money is the basis of everything we do, so when things are not going well financially, it affects the rest of our lives, creating a negative cycle.
We open our credit card statement, feel depressed and go and eat some chocolate or have a drink.
We feel bad about ourselves, so we unconsciously punish ourselves by not doing the things we enjoy.
So much of our headspace is taken up with money worries that we have no space left for other people or endeavors that may help us move forward.
What our contestants are discovering, however, is that having energy is not about having more money, but rather about taking control.
The very act of feeling in control of our money – of having a plan – lessens our stress and encourages us to make better choices about our money and our health.
Thuli, a mother of four and head of operations at an NGO, says:
I feel like I can breathe now. When I came into this competition, I was feeling like I couldn’t do anything
"I was having sleepless nights, but now I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not there yet, but I am feeling positive.”
Thuli is leaving her credit card at home when she goes shopping and has started an emergency fund.
She and her husband are also working on a household budget so they can plan properly.
Amanda, a widow and mother of three, has already found R2 600 of savings a month, despite entering the competition with the belief that there was no extra cash in her budget.
“A few months ago, I didn’t believe it was possible. I can’t believe the growth I have experienced.
"It’s in how much better I can handle everyday hassles, because I know I spent the time and went through every expense, realising there were cheaper options.
"From where I was before the competition to now, I feel like a different person – I am much more relaxed and I can see the journey I want to take. I just want to live a pure life without possessions, and without the worry about money and excess.”
Samke, our youngest contestant, has found that, rather than spending haphazardly, she is now saving for the first time.
“I can sleep at night. On a monthly basis, I can survive and am able to do what I want to do. It is so important to plan and budget.
"If you find a balance in your finances, it will balance your whole life. I used to just complain, but now I am taking care of my finances and looking after myself.”