“Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” is a beautiful Zulu proverb which loosely translates into “A person is a person because of other people.” It might seem a little weird that we are talking about African proverbs on a ‘money matters’ blog, but if we believe that “No man is an island” and without people around us we wouldn’t be who we are today, it’s tough to argue that some of those relationships haven’t in some way formed our personal views on money.
When you think about it our ideas on money are largely other people’s ideas that we’ve inherited along the way. Nobody is born with a view on money, our experiences form our opinions.
Here’s an example: If you believe that money doesn’t grow on trees, then ask yourself this question: Did my parents have that particular view when I was growing up? They probably did, right?
Now take a moment to rewind the movie reel in your head and think about all the meaningful relationships you’ve had in your life. Who were these relationships with and what did these people teach you?
In most cases it wasn’t the richest person in your family who taught you the most valuable money lessons, was it?
Very often it was the most “money savvy” people in our lives who left a real lasting impression.
Maybe it was the weekends spent in your Umkhulu’s hardware store, sweeping the floor and packing cardboard boxes that taught you the valuable lesson that hard work equals fair pay?
Perhaps it was the Sunday afternoons spent helping your father replace the Champion spark plugs in the battle weary Datsun Pulsar that taught you how to save money by getting things done yourself?
If your mom baked cakes for the tuisnywerheid while your dad left to go to work every morning, that sense that every bit helps might have been formed from those years as a barefoot child with fingers full of baking batter.
We all have these memories, and whether we believe it or not, they have formed our views on money.
In this blog post we are going to identify 6 things “money savvy” people in our lives seem to always get right, and what lessons we can learn from them. We would love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this blog post if you remember the impact a family member had on your relationship with money:
They never lived above their means, did they?
There is a lot to be said for finding some happiness outside of material things. It’s tough, we know. All of us have been programmed to work hard so we can buy more things. Smart marketers have been tugging our emotional strings for decades, and they are banking on the fact that we’ll continue to upgrade our life so that we can keep our social media accounts updated with the best versions of ourselves.
How can we avoid the trap of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’?
The first step is getting over the notion that what we have makes us more desirable. What you have is what you can afford to have, and you should never be stretching yourself financially so that you can impress a bunch of friends or family.
Live within your means and be happy with what you have. The most “money savvy” people in your life live mediocre lifestyles because they understand it doesn’t make any sense to try and impress people with shiny things.
They counted all their pennies
In a cashless society where you can just tap your bank card as you walk out the store, it’s easy to lose track of what you are spending. When last did you pull a bank statement and spend 20 minutes running through your monthly expenses looking for ways to create more money to save? Be honest now. Hardly anyone takes the time to “count their pennies” anymore. It’s foolish because as a child you remember a family member who was miserly about what they spent. They budgeted like crazy and could account for every cent they spent.
We aren’t suggesting that you pull out an accounting ledger every time you pop into a store for some milk and bread. What we are suggesting is that you set up a budget and stick to it. Every successful business in the world runs on a budget, so why do we think we can “wing it” and come out on the other side financially flush?
‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’
They saved religiously
Everyone knows someone who has far more money than you expected them to have. Every family has an uncle or a cousin who pulled up to the family Christmas function in a real skedonk of a car, only to find out later down the line that they had a blue-chip stock portfolio worth millions of Rand. The “money savvy” people in our lives save first, then spend if they have anything left over. If there isn’t much to spend after they have saved, then they just make do with what they have.
You need to save like you brush your teeth. It needs to become second nature.
They made calculated financial decisions
We act before we think nowadays. Our fingers move faster than our brains, and while that means we can get more done in a day, it also means we are likely to make some rash decisions that could hurt us financially. Back when our parents grew up, they had the luxury of time. Life didn’t move at the frenetic pace it does today, and it’s fair to say that they made better financial decisions back then, without the advantage of Google. The “money savvy” people in your life are calculated and strategic. If you are making a big financial decision, take some time to get all the facts before you commit.
They have the knack of turning one buck into two
Why is it that some people have the knack of turning nothing into something? Is it pot luck? You would be naïve to think that the people in your life who are really “money savvy” have been born with some special superpower that allows them to turn R50 into R100. The truth is that they learn from their mistakes and they don’t make the same mistake twice. The difference between the family members who are good with money and those who aren’t comes down to their ability to learn and take advantage of those learnings. Failure is part of becoming successful. You will continue to make a few “not so lekker” financial decisions but learning from them is the key.
They take it upon themselves to learn
The internet has changed everything. You can’t really use the excuse of “I didn’t know” anymore. Granted, not everything you pick up on the net is reliable, but you can fact-check the information you are trying to source, can’t you? If you don’t know anything about investing in offshore stocks, you can learn. If you don’t understand the implications of dying without a Last Will and Testament, who do you have to blame? The “money savvy” among us continue to learn and broaden their horizons. That knowledge allows them to make better decisions and avoid more failures. Find the time to upskill yourself when it comes to money matters. A good place to start is with this blog. Our aim is to bring you the information you need to be “Wise About Life”.
Please share some stories about people, in your past, who taught you some valuable money lessons.
Until next time
The Wise About Life Team