Workers’ Day is a time to contemplate the contribution we all make to the economy and perhaps to take stock of where our careers are heading. It is also a perfect opportunity to assess whether our hard-earned money is working as hard as we are.
Your ability to earn an income is your most valuable asset. You work hard to hone your skills, expand your abilities and choose the right moves to make, but what if you lose your ability to work through accident or disease? What happens then?
Too many people still overlook this part of their financial planning, because no-one thinks anything bad will happen to them. Some form of income protection is absolutely crucial to ensure that you can absorb a temporary or permanent loss of income.
Dread diseases like cancer and heart disease are unfortunately on the rise in South Africa, but thanks to modern medicine and early detection, the chances of survival are also quite high. Having dread disease and income protection in place can help ensure that you won’t have to face astronomic bills and financial woes when you recover, and that you can resume work without a heavy debt burden.
The importance of a budget, and sticking to it, cannot be emphasised enough. Keeping close tabs on how much you spend and what you spend it on, is the first step in taking control of your finances. Assessing your spending can help you cut out unnecessary expenses and assist in freeing up some cash in your budget. The next step would be to choose a savings vehicle that suits your lifestyle and your long- and short-term savings goals. Consulting a financial planner can help you find the right fit.
The old saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” still rings true. It would seem that around every corner people and organisations are offering ludicrous returns. Unscrupulous “businesses” are very adept at luring unsuspecting would-be investors into parting with their hard-earned cash. Financial pressures and rising fuel and food prices unfortunately make these offers seem very tempting. Make sure you invest your money with a reliable and established company with a solid history and reputation. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll save yourself endless grief in the long run.
Planning a comfortable retirement is every bit as important as making the right career moves. Few things are more depressing than devoting 30 years plus to working and then having to scrape by in retirement. Making the right choices now, and starting as early as possible, can help ensure that you enjoy the retirement you deserve. Retirement savings are dependent as much on your ability to be patient and to leave your nest egg alone, as on the contributions you make every month. Do not be tempted to take your retirement savings as a cash payout when you change jobs. Doing so will mean that you have to start all over again, and have a shorter period to save.
Just as you build your career, financial wellbeing is a long-term commitment, but with the right guidance, discipline and savvy decision-making, you may achieve it sooner than you think.