Windhoek-It’s a new year, which signals a new beginning for some people who want to reinvent themselves or finally get to working on the goals they set for themselves but never got to.
“This is the time of year when many people list down their resolutions for the year and how best to achieve them. Unfortunately how best to manage their finances and attaining financial wellness is never on the list of resolutions but it should be the priority. However financial wellness is essential because it not only affects your physical wellbeing, but can also disrupt your productivity at work,” Standard Bank’s PR and communications manager, Surihe Gaomas-Guchu, advised this week.
She pointed out that in general, people give very little thought to their long-term goals. By not thinking ahead, they are likely to misplace their priorities and just strive to survive from month to month.
Reiterating that financial issues have a negative impact on people which can result in stress (which triggers health issues), low morale/performance and poor productivity, she stressed that it is important to get control your money although it requires constant attention and discipline.
“You can build wealth if you manage your money wisely, even if you don’t earn a huge income. It’s not so much about how much money you make it’s what you do with what you make,” Gaomas-Guchu said.
She advised that the key to achieving financial wellness begins by taking a holistic approach which requires not only looking at your finances, but also emotional/mental wellness.
“Your emotional/mental wellness plays a huge role in how you navigate your way to financial wellness so you need to make sure you are at your best. Begin by boosting your self-esteem and surrounding yourself with positive people who encourage you. Tell your family and friends that you are going on a mission to save money and to get your balance into shape. The people who care about you will encourage you to get ahead,” she explained.
Additionally, you shouldn’t take criticism at face value. If the feedback seems right, use it, if it’s not, forget about it. Control what you say to yourself and keep your self-talk positive, always moving you towards what you want rather than away from what you don’t want.
“Stop comparing yourself to others because constant quest to keep up with the Joneses is just going to cost you money you don’t have. Rather work on being happy and satisfied with what you have while you are pursuing your other goals,” Gaomas-Guchu stressed.
Discerning between your needs and wants is also important because it will help you in saving thousands of dollars. In order to manage a budget responsibly, you have to take care of the needs before the wants. When you calculate the damage caused by a few justifications to buy things you do not need, you suddenly realise you have spent far more than you intended.
However this does that mean that you should only buy the things that you need because life is meant to be lived, not survived. Treat yourself to some wants along the way, but only do so when it does not affect your ability to take care of your needs.
“Understanding the true cost of debt will also aid in you achieving financial wellness. Many people fall into the debt trap because credit and borrowing money gets them what they want instantaneously without the wait of having to save for it, however some incur too much debt, being unable to keep up with payments and so they start missing payments, which accumulates even more debt,” she explained.
She advised those who find themselves in the debt trap to start off by making a list of all the things they owe, work out how much they are short every month and be prepared to go for debt counselling if their debt exceeds their income by a large amount.
Another thing to do immediately for noteworthy results is to stop spending immediately. She also advised that if your debt is excessive and you have not been able to mitigate it with your savings, then putting your saving on hold will serve you a lot of good as it will allow you to have more money to actually settle your debt.
“You will need both a financial planning and budgeting if you wish to attain financial wellness. Financial planning is making provisions for your financial future (i.e. retirement and the building of personal wealth) whereas budgeting is the nuts and bolts of the strategy we will use to achieve our goals. The reason people can’t stick to a budget is because they don’t make provisions for getting out of debt – most budgets keep us in the same situation. A spending plan will free up cash flow and help us to build wealth,” she explained.
Gaomas-Guchu concluded that achieving financial wellness is possible if you are willing to put in the work required.