6 years ago I found myself divorced with two kids under the age of 4 – facing not only a mountain of responsibility to take on by myself, but also a mountain of financial pressure ….to take on with only one income. So naturally the first thing I did was give up any form of luxury – manicures, lavish outings, heck even dating! I simply couldn’t take on any more responsibility, whether financially or emotionally. But small kids don’t work well with budgets – our medical aid simply didn’t keep up with the string of viruses generated by a crèche and my kids made a point of outgrowing everything they owned each season. So every month I was floored by unplanned/out of budget expenses.
However, slowly but surely things got better and after 3 years of finding my feet I bit the bullet and bought us a little townhouse to call our own. It was a super proud moment – it was mine. Bought on my own, with my own money and without any help from anyone else. And it offered my family security. No leases that can expire, or unreasonable landlords to deal with. Something I could leave my children (if anything had to happen to me, God forbid).
Unfortunately, it also came with a mountain of worry – overnight my rent budget doubled into a bond payment. And that’s not an easy jump to manage for most! But we made do, and as time went by and things settled, I even added back the occasional manicure to spoil myself. But no matter how “well” I managed my money, nor each year’s annual increase, I realised I am still very much living pay check to pay check. Each year my (kids’, home, insurance-) expenses go up by average 10-15% and no matter how genuine my new years resolution to start saving, I just never had any money left over. Which means that when bonus month rolls around, instead of spoiling my family with a holiday away or padding an emergency “nest egg”, I am plugging holes left by the previous financial year’s unforeseen expenses. And having no emergency fund means that I continue to make bad financial decisions for the fear that something unforeseen would pop up (good example: trading in a car for the fear of owning it without a motor plan….despite the ridiculously low mileage I do each year!).
Which means only one thing: I am not moving ahead. In fact, I am still years away from the financial freedom I had hoped for my little family by now.
So, I have decided: this is it. Due day has arrived. First step? I have challenged myself to a 6 month spend embargo. I am not going to buy anything that is not a NEED. Next, I have set up a detailed budget and I am going to keep track of each and every cent I spend. I also downloaded various apps to help me save money on groceries, I’ve negotiated with my bank to lower fees, reduced my insurance by removing unnecessary specified items (cell phones, cameras, etc) and read up on the rewards programs (which I actually joined long ago without really paying attention to the perks they offer – who knew I could even get a discount on my monthly alarm company subscription!?).
My goal? To be debt free (apart from my bond) by April 2020. The reason? Because my children deserve it. They deserve financial security, not to mention a mom that isn’t always worrying about the “unforeseen”! We can’t control what life throws our way, but we can definitely plan for it a bit better.
Which takes me to the final, albeit most important, step of my plan: INVESTING for our future. As of 01 June 2019 I will not only be a Glacier employee, but also a proud Glacier by Sanlam client as well. J Although I can’t start off with much, it’s a START towards building a nest egg which we sorely need.
It’s terrifyingly exciting – not only because I am finally entering the market as a discretionary investor, but also because I am taking the first step to overcoming risk aversion. At the same time I am teaching my children something priceless – how to manage money. After all, the say “children will follow your example, not your advice”!
Wish me luck!