The management of debt has become increasingly difficult in the modern era. Access to debt is so readily available that we can easily forget the difference between money that is really ours and money that we borrow but have to pay back again. As these two become confused, we can find ourselves in a downward spiral into a seemingly bottomless pit
2 February 2015
You have just made it over the January hurdle and it is now time to take a more introspective look at your finances. Being financially savvy does not always require a CFA qualification, sometimes it just requires some organisation. Getting your finances organised will allow you to make the most of your income and the financial opportunities available. So, on your marks, get set, GO!
1. Get Organised
Make use of a folder or filing system to get all your important documents in getting your finances organised and in order. Create tabs for the following:
- Property (e.g. tittle deed, architectural plans, valuation certificates);
- Bank Accounts (proof of accounts that you hold);
- Investments (share certificates, annuity funds);
- Insurance Policies;
- Personal Certificates (birth/marriage/death/academic certificates); and
- Household finances (monthly budget, school fees, student loans etc).
- Important Contacts (e.g. personal financial advisor, stock broker, banking relationship manager)
Create hard and digitised copies of all the above documents.
2. Statements for all Financial Obligations
Pull together a file for all financial statements for your accounts (loans, credit cards, mortgages, vehicle financing, levies, and even loans from friends). You are entitled to one free credit report a year from the credit bureau. Obtain one and review all your accounts and check your credit score and any adverse information that may be on your report.
This is the year for savings. Financial advisors suggest that one saves 15% of their monthly income. If you cannot afford that, then start by saving even a R100. Make use of a monthly stop order to put the money into a 32 day account.
4. Review all your Policies
If you have any insurance policies be it vehicle insurance, life policies or a retirement annuity fund, review these annually to ensure that you are getting the best deal. You will be able to better keep track of how much is in the accounts, review how they are being invested and pick up any funds that may still be with your previous employer.
5. Tax Returns
Get these sorted out! Very often taxpayers leave these to the last minute and pay the price through penalties. Familiarise yourself with the deadlines and seek assistance if you need to. Visit SARS website for more information.
6. Last Will & Testament
Become testate! Only 10% of South Africans have a will. If you have not done it already, it is time to draw up a Will. It serves as an essential tool in winding up your estate which can be costly, time-consuming and in some cases unfairly prejudice your family if it is not available. Keep it simple and consult a reputable company to assist you.
7. Financial Goals
Look to the year ahead. Decide on what financial position you would like to find yourself in by the time the year comes to an end. Are you interested in purchasing a home or are you nearing retirement or do you want to become debt free? Whatever position you see yourself in, start by seeking financial advice and begin to pave your way to financial freedom.
Author: Zandile Ramalohlanye (DebtBusters Financial Consultant)