Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment when you get a head start on spring cleaning your home. But what about your finances? How often do we look at the changing seasons and think about how we can apply the lessons that come with the change of season to our finances.
There might be some seasons we like more than others – for those of us with allergies, spring is particularly testing. But as much as the sniffling, coughing and sneezing might be challenging, the flip side is the beauty of flowers starting to bloom, signalling growth and rebirth as the plants push through the once dull and seemingly empty soil.
As the season changes, it’s always a great time to reflect on your savings and investment choices, to check if you are still on track when it comes to your financial goals. Have your savings gone into a winter hibernation? Is your spending up in the air like an autumn wind? It’s time to spring clean your finances.
Just like you would focus in the gym to shed those extra kilos before summer, centre your energy towards completing any particularly challenging financial tasks – for example, closing off your student loan. You can do this by setting up an automated system such as a debit order to pay off the debt.
Achieving your goals requires a strong commitment to saving; it requires a change in mindset and attitude. Saving gurus recommend that you commit to saving at least 10% of your annual income if you are able to. Research has shown that South Africans only save between 0% and 8%, and, in truth, if you want to retire comfortably, you would need to save 20% of your annual income.
Remember to always review your investments and savings plan over time and constantly asses if they are still relevant to your goals and income. Here are a few tips to consider as you declutter your way out of debt.
Family responsibility tax
We all have responsibilities that extend beyond our personal needs and wants. Add family responsibility to the mix, or an unplanned money request from a family member, and it can throw your budget into a tailspin. If you are trying to get out of debt, this is the perfect time to start setting financial boundaries – and communicating those boundaries to your family. One of the biggest reasons we struggle to set and uphold boundaries is fear. We are afraid of being excluded or abandoned, but this will only hold you back from reaching your financial goals and getting out of debt.
Consider getting an additional income stream. One way to get out of debt faster is by finding a side hustle to supplement your current income. Whether it's baby-sitting for neighbours, or selling baked goods or Tupperware, don't despise small beginnings, because what ultimately matters is reaching your goal.
Spring clean your values
Just like the changing seasons, our values may need to shift to accommodate any major or minor life events. Over the past three years, many of us have been through life-altering changes, whether negative – such as COVID-19 or retrenchment – or positive – such as getting a promotion or a new major purchase. In these moments, we need to sit down and revaluate our spending habits. If you find that you aren’t on track with your savings target, ask yourself: What is driving my spending?
As you look through your last few months of spending, take note of whether you were spending within the limits you'd set for yourself and adjust accordingly if there are any areas where you can cut back.
Take inspiration from the beautiful varieties of flowers and look at diversifying your savings and investments. We have all heard the saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”; diversifying your portfolio will help minimise your risks and maximize your returns. Even during these challenging economic times, stay focused on the fact that your financial situation can change if you take the time to work out a budget that will spring you out of debt and into a life of abundance.
For more tips to spend wisely, save regularly and invest prudently you can check out our Values & Money resources page here.
Bonolo is a multimedia journalist and content creator at Heartlines. She has experience in online and radio media production and helps spread the Heartlines message on multiple platforms.
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