Buti, Howard, Zamokuhle, Mmabatho, Monique and Vonne. Picture: Mpumelelo Buthelezi
Next week we launch our 2018/19 City Press/Absa Money Makeover competition as we take six new contestants through a money boot camp. This week Maya Fisher-French revisits last year’s faces of financial freedom to find out if the lessons learnt have helped change their financial futures.
During the six-month Money Makeover competition these contestants settled short-term debt, built up emergency funds, created a financial plan and started on their savings goals. None of them achieved this because of a higher salary or winning the lotto. This was all achieved by simply having a plan in place and sticking to it. They are proof that the power to change your financial circumstances lies within you and that you do not have to wait for some “miracle” to achieve financial freedom.
Follow the Money Makeover journey in City Press and online:
Buti: Learnt to prioritise spending
During the money boot camp, Buti paid off R68 000 of credit card debt. Buti has subsequently been promoted to major-general at the SA Police Service, after having transferred to Pretoria. The relocation incurred costs as he had to renovate his home to rent it out. He did use his credit card, but is focusing on paying it off within a few months. His five children’s education costs are taken care of, as Buti has prioritised these in terms of his budget.
Read: Buti on his financial journey, in his own words
“What I learnt through the Money Makeover was how to handle my cash and prioritise my spending. Now when I go to the bottle store I go without guilt because all the bills are paid and my children’s education is taken care of. I am only treating myself with what is left,” says Buti, who adds that for the first time he has money left over in his account before pay day. Buti stays in regular contact with his Absa adviser, Matt Rudman, and is planning on buying a small flat in Pretoria as an investment property.
Howard: You need to do proper costings for your business
Budding property developer Howard, who was also the winner of our 2017/18 Money Makeover, has managed to stick to his budget despite the endless rises in the petrol price. The key to his financial resilience has been a reduction in debt repayments owing to the restructuring of expensive personal loans into a business loan. By keeping proper records of his building costs, Howard identified that his rooms-to-let were costing him around R40 000 to build rather than the R20 000 he believed it cost.
Read: Howard on his financial journey, in his own words
“Looking back, I realise that we spent more than R273 000 building our first seven rooms, which explains why we ended up with so much short-term debt.”
Owing to his winnings and savings, Howard’s current building project will be completed without borrowing any money.
However, the top priority now is to pay back the R70 000 we took from the investment fund we won.
Zamo: There are other priorities than an expensive wedding
Human resources manager Zamo continues to be a disciplined saver, although he admits he is still too conservative. “I just feel safer investing in a fixed deposit,” says Zamo, who is still considering starting a debit order into a unit trust. Owing to the competition, the couple decided not to go ahead with their wedding ceremony after they realised how much it would cost them. To their surprise, their family agreed.
Read: Zamo on his financial journey, in his own words
“My family was shocked that we were even planning a ceremony as we are legally married. They told us there are more important things to spend money on. Now we plan on building a house at my rural home in KwaZulu-Natal rather than doing a ceremony. It is on hold until further notice”.
As a result Zamo felt confident enough to put himself forward as a trustee for the Government Employee Pension Fund. Although he narrowly lost out on the top two positions, Zamo is happy with his third-place finish.
They knew who I was, they knew that this guy had his own finances in order.
Zamo, when he applied to be a government pension fund trustee
Mmabatho: A good money relationship with your partner helps in tough times
The past six months have been challenging for town planner Mmabatho, but she acknowledges that she and her husband have weathered the storm far better owing to the work they did with the Money Makeover. The communication between her husband and herself around their finances means they are working as a team.
Read: Mmabatho on her financial journey, in her own words
“Talking about the finances helps you know what you are supporting,” says Mmabatho about her husband’s transport business, which was negatively affected by the election unrest in Zimbabwe. The family has also taken in her sister’s son who is studying to be a chef.
“This does mean more money on petrol and groceries,” says Mmabatho, who has continued to keep her investments and policies in place.
“My husband asked me to help with his life cover payment as he knows how important it is for our family’s security.”
Mmabatho is also glad that she did not decide to buy a new car as those payments would be a further challenge right now.
Money Makeover made me aware to say ‘no’. I wish the new contestants good luck. One thing for sure is that they will never be the same again.
Monique: Relief from debt allows you to focus on your goals
Monique has a full-time job as a bookkeeper and runs a side business selling beauty products. During her Money Makeover she reached her goal to get control of her debts, build her side business and send her daughter to a good school.
Monique’s daughter is loving her new school and her business is thriving.
Read: Monique on her financial journey, in her own words
“All that stress of not being able to pay the bills is gone and it has allowed me to do so much more. I now have the energy to focus on my business,” says Monique, who has won several awards this year including top salesperson for Sh’Zen in the Eastern Cape.
For Monique the Absa competition was critical in changing her approach to her beauty product business.
I am now keeping proper records of my business and my spreadsheets show me clearly how much profit I am making and what my costs are. I realised that this is not a Mickey Mouse business, this is something that I should take seriously.
Vonne: Having your finances in order helps you to deal with a crisis
Soon after completing the Money Makeover competition, departure controller Vonne faced a family tragedy. In supporting the family financially with hospital and funeral costs, Vonne had to tap into his savings and take out a small loan. Fortunately, the Money Makeover competition helped Vonne clear most of his debts and restore his savings. He decided to move out of his flat and rent it out, while he moved to his parent’s home. This has given him relief financially and he is able to better provide for his young daughter and accelerate his car repayments.
Read: Vonne on his financial journey, in his own words
I still have my emergency savings. I am sticking to my budget on and off, but I am managing my spending.