12 July 2020
Money-savvy people who had set up emergency funds have been able to ride the storm that is COVID-19 and now empathise with the rest of us as we scurry for cover from the financial blows brought about by the pandemic.
This tough act of denying yourself another bottle of an 18-year-old or the latest pair of boots for winter is what separates the disciplined and the unruly bunch, of which I’m a card-carrying member. COVID-19 seems to have muted the annual announcement that July is savings month and the unruly bunch has not been shamed enough on its overindulgent purchases.
Now that I have e-mailed through my resignation letter to the headquarters of the unruly bunch, I am planning to start saving for a rainy day.
Someone much cleverer than I once said that if you plan for emergencies, when they do happen, they seem like a minor bump on the road.
When no planning takes place, you feel stuck and end up flapping about in a mad panic.
Smart money people urge the unruly bunch to save an amount that is at least six months of your monthly expenses. Those who are in the saving game are known to have emergency funds that cover up to 24 months of their monthly expenses.
This allows them the freedom to walk away from toxic work environments and nurse their mental state for two years while job-hunting.
The reason I haven’t lined up for the Comrades Marathon is my lack of consistency. Yes, I do run around the block once a year on January 2. But I need to change if I’m to establish an emergency fund and be ready for any unforeseeable circumstances.
I’ve been told you don’t have to earn big bucks to save. A person who earns R5 000 a month and diligently puts away R500 into a nest egg is better off than one who earns R100 000 and spends R110 000 from borrowed funds.
If it means downgrading from premium coffee to Ricoffy to save a few bucks here and there, I’m in. Good thing is I don’t drink coffee. What the COVID-19 madness has taught me is to start counting the bronze coins, to run the rule on what comes in and out of my bank account.
By tracking my daily and monthly transactions, I now have a clearer picture of where the bulk of my meagre earning goes.
But I’m worried that the saving culture in South Africa is not high up on our national priorities. And
saving shouldn’t be restricted to rand and cents. Saving allows you to build a legacy and to give the next generation a leg up. We need to save our children from the curse of instant gratification and teach them to play the long game.
Mandela’s people need to save themselves from this invisible killer that is COVID-19.
- Mafata is a Johannesburg-based communicator. He writes in his personal capacity.