“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso
Thinking about people whom we deal with every day of our lives and situations, economic or political, makes me think of toffee apples. Those lovely red or green sticky apples with the long stick that never ceases to tempt me, to this day! Very sweet and sticky on the outside and more often than not, quite hard. On the inside, you find the almost sour apple YET the outside, though tempting, is BAD for you and the inside is GOOD for you. We all know the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
We look at the tempting sweetness of other success stories, but people are not as informed as they should be.
I help people trust, know and express themselves better by sharing the tools that helped me heal my own uncertainties and live a self-directed life. My work is steeped in self-compassion, kindness and practicality and I share my own creative journey to inspire you on yours. So allow me to teach you how to choose between making the toffee apple or eating a toffee apple and manage your expectation!
No matter what your financial circumstances are, take time to set both short-term and long-term goals that
- are attainable
- are specific
- have a deadline.
The FIVE golden rules to creating your toffee apple:
1. Pay yourself first ‐ always
The problem is you are “saving” from what is left over, versus making saving the priority. There is no better argument for starting to save and invest early than the power of compounding. Where do you find them apples, you may ask?
o Create an emergency fund
o If you think it is too early to be putting aside for retirement – think again
o Make the process of saving as painless as possible by setting up automatic deductions from your bank account. It is much easier to live without it if you do not see it!
2. Set goals
o Manage your debt
By practicing the art of conscious spending i.e. Is this a “want” or a “need”?, Or can I wait to buy this? If I charge this now, will I be able to pay my credit card bill in full this month Is this the best price? Can I wait until it goes on sale or even borrow it? Is this part of my bigger plan?
Given my financial situation, is it more important to keep my eye on a bigger budget goal, such as buying a car?
Behavior and lifestyle are part of the equation, too!
While the power of compounding interest and investment gains are wonderful things, remember success, (professional as well as monetary) still comes from work and discipline. Be strategic in your career, realistic in your expectations (salary versus standard of living) and plan it out (including contingencies).
3. Educate yourself and be vigilant
Life is an ongoing learning journey. Your career will give you “hands on” experience, and hopefully you will find a mentor. Likewise, from a personal standpoint, to be financially successful, you should learn more about how other people have achieved their financial goals – have you done the online course?
You owe it to yourself to have a base level of knowledge around these disciplines.
Be vigilant – It is not how much you make but how much you keep that matters! Pay attention to the following to ensure you do not leave money on the table.
TFI – Tax Free Investments up to R33 000 per annum per person – you can save up to R500 000 totally tax-free and this could be used as an added income to pay those shortfalls! Lots of sugar here!
PS – Preferential Shares – did you know that Pref Shares are backed by assets and a Pref Shareholder will always have a capital back-up on his underlying investment (better than a guarantee you have to pay for) and what is more, a Pref share derives dividends which is only taxed at 20% in your trust? Did you know you could use this as equity when you buy property? Now is THAT not the sweetest apple you have tasted?
WCP – Wealth Creation through Property – this is the stick that gives you access to all that sweetness but is held in place by the wholesomeness of the apple on the inside. The part that is good for you, the part that will feed your family.
Banking fees/finance charges/credit card interest: Use your bank’s ATM machine. Other banks may charge you a fee to use their ATM, and you may even be charged by your bank, as well.
Bundle services (internet/Dstv/Netflix) – investigate the options!
Review, review, review – and don’t be afraid to ask for discounts: Every year, make it a point to review your financial situation (insurance and agreements).
4. Manage your risks
Protect your personal assets ‐ and your reputation – by being aware of the risks around each and taking the proper precautions.
o Assets – Car and health insurance are MUST HAVES
o Estate documents – As an adult, you should have the following planning documents:
– Will – directs where you want your assets to go should you pass away
– Living will – defines your wishes should you be medically incapable of making decisions on your own
– Financial power of attorney – designates a person who would make financial decisions on your behalf if you were unable to do so
– Health care power of attorney – names the person who would be deemed the decision maker on your health care needs
o Identity – Protecting yourself against identity theft is always easier than having to clear your name and credit record afterwards.
o Reputation – Thanks to technology and social networking, any person in a position to review your reputation for the purposes of employment, volunteering or other public interface can find out a great deal about you and your past. Be smart about your online social media accounts by writing consistent profiles with productive information that you would like to be acknowledged for. Watch spelling and grammar and think before you click!
5. Stand on your own
You will never know your true cost of living if the Bank of Mom and Dad continues to subsidise your lifestyle. Remember, your parents are also saving for their own retirement and may have spent a significant amount of money on your college education. Now is the time for them to focus on their future needs, which will most likely include higher taxes, increasing medical costs and greater uncertainty around pension benefits.
Conclusion – Enjoy your apple!
The road to achieving financial success will not always be easy. According to the JumpStart Coalition International, 18 to 24 year olds are one of the fastest growing age groups filing for bankruptcy. It is very tempting to live beyond your income, but the consequences can negatively affect your life for years to come. Be smart about your spending, have patience and save for the things you want; invest for your long-term future and be careful in taking on debt. Follow these principles, stay on course and you will reach your destination.
Spend time with someone who will expand your mind and help you grow.
Your goals should scare you a little, but excite you a lot!