Monique in her own words

2018-03-25 13:56
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 “My daughter went to the school of our choice and I turned by business finances around”

Monique shares the milestones achieved in the six-month Absa/City Press Money Makeover Competition

I remember at the end of June 2017 receiving the acceptance letter from the school we had applied to for my daughter to start Grade 00 the following year. Instead of jumping for joy, I panicked. There was no way I could afford an additional R2000 per month on school fees. It was the only school we had applied to in 2013 because we were so certain that we would do the necessary changes to make sure that we could afford it in 2018.

We hadn’t taken into account that I would go on 4 months unpaid maternity leave with each child. We couldn’t foresee that my dad, who was once a successful businessman, would go bankrupt in 2014 and that we would have to assist financially.

We couldn’t foresee that my second child would be born with a condition called craniosynostosis and that the medical aid wouldn’t cover all the costs of his surgery in 2017, and we didn’t have gap cover.

I looked at my budget at the end of June 2017 and knew that the only way out was to complete my bookkeeping qualification so that I could earn more money, but I was also very aware that there was no way I could afford money for studies as my monthly loan repayments left me with just enough money to survive from day to day. There was no way out for me and no way I could send my daughter to that school. I felt hopeless and the mother guilt set in...Why didn’t I plan better? If only I had completed my studies when I had the chance…

A few days later I was on Facebook and saw that Absa was running a Money Makeover competition and I didn’t hesitate to enter. I was ecstatic when I heard I was one of the finalists. The competition would kick-off in October and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Sh’zen, the beauty product I sell as a sideline business, had made the biggest change at the company – they went from a system of me, as a team leader, placing orders on behalf of my consultants to consultants placing their own orders on a webstore. This change definitely worked in my favour.

First, it took the stress away of me paying for other people’s orders and relying on them to pay me back. I have missed debit order payments and have had to make quick interest-bearing loans just to meet my commitments because consultants would disappoint me and not pay on time.

Second, it also freed up so much of time. Suddenly I didn’t have to place a R50 000 order, receive the stock, check the stock, invoice 20+ consultants, deliver some orders, courier out of town orders and then collect money for these orders afterwards.

October to December also happens to be the biggest sales months in Sh’zen. I made sure that I was at a market or hosting a pamper party every second weekend. And I doubled my sales in those months. I also had a lot of stock on hand and this was a good time to sell off stock.

Absa also arranged for me to meet with Jacques Venter, an amazing financial adviser. Jacques reviewed my budget and advised that the first thing I do is consolidate the three loans I had – two personal loans and a credit card. Suddenly I went from paying monthly loan instalments of R3500 to one single instalment of R1700 monthly. This has been the biggest relief because previously if something unforeseen would happen, it would mean more debt. Now the extra R1800 saving is available and if not used, I have the option to plough it into my loan.

Another suggestion from Jacques was that I separate business and personal money. This has had a huge impact on my finances. I can now clearly see how much extra money I am making with my direct-selling business. This extra money is definitely making up the shortfall of what I earn as a full-time bookkeeper and my monthly commitments.

With the help of this Absa/City Press Money Makeover competition:

- I was forced to assess my financial position and to put the necessary disciplines in place to change my financial circumstances;

- I have finally established a cash flow plan that is bringing me closer to beating my debt and taking control of my finances;

- I can comfortably afford the extra R2000 per month to pay for my daughter’s school fees;

- We have had unforeseen circumstances this year – our fridge packed up, my LCD on my laptop needed to be repaired and just yesterday a thief came into our yard and stole our copper pipes.  I didn’t have to access credit thanks to my emergency funds and extra monthly cashflow – it just meant I couldn’t commit to paying a bit more into the loan;

- I have committed to paying off my loan in the shortest period of time. I have paid R10 000 thus far;

- I have registered to complete my bookkeeping studies;

- My aim is to pay off all debt and then to save at least 10% of my monthly salary.

I believe that the majority of people in debt can relate to me and my circumstances. Yes, we cannot control what is handed to us in life but what I have learnt is that we cannot go through life without having a plan. I streamlined certain processes, committed every second Saturday to selling my products and remained disciplined. I had a budget and stuck to it and after only six months I am no longer feeling miserable about my financial situation. I hope my story will inspire other South Africans to start their own personal journey to financial health.

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