South Africans aren’t always very money savvy. Not enough of us save for a rainy day, many of us fail to service our debt, and some of us live beyond our means, constantly having to borrow money to keep up with our consumer-driven lifestyles. For many South Africans status symbols are essential, and only luxury cars, expensive clothing, the latest cell phones and high-tech gadgets, along with property in upmarket areas are deemed good enough, which often results in huge debt.
In addition, we’re all trying to keep up with inflation and the rising costs of living, which means that our disposable incomes keep declining. People often go into even more debt to sustain their lifestyles, which they can no longer afford.
These bad habits, combined with the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had on our economy, spell bad news for the financial futures of many South Africans.
And that’s a huge problem. We don’t always plan sufficiently for our futures, or for the unforeseen circumstances in our lives. For example, when lockdown was announced, many South Africans were ill-prepared to survive on lower or no incomes, and many had to eat into their retirement savings to make up for lost income.
It’s not that South Africans aren’t worried about their futures or that we’re simply squandering our money when we should be saving; sometimes it’s simply because we have no idea how to manage our finances.
Financial education doesn’t play a big role in our school curriculum, and we learn most of our financial habits from our parents, guardians or other family members, who often aren’t very good with money themselves.
When we talk about financial planning, many people assume that is only for the rich and famous. But the truth is that anyone, no matter how small their income, can make their money stretch much further with a bit of planning.
Financial education should be available to everyone, which is why the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation has been working with their partners to create money-wise platforms for all South Africans.
An initiative that Momentum Metropolitan Foundation joined is Money Smart Week South Africa, an initiative of the National Consumer Financial Education Committee. It is a financial literacy campaign aimed at teaching ordinary South Africans about their finances. This campaign took place between 22 and 28 March this year.(www.mswsa.co.za)
The Momentum Metropolitan Foundation also joined hands with FunDza, a South African NGO that is focused on getting young South Africans reading for fun. FunDza has a story series, That Majola Magic, which follows the Majola family as they sort through different issues in their lives. The Momentum Metropolitan Foundation is currently sponsoring a That Majola Magic Course Competition, which teaches people about their finances in a fun and entertaining way. Ten lucky participants can each win R2000 after completing the course, but the main aim is to get people talking and thinking about their finances and the decisions they make around money. (https://live.fundza.mobi/competitions/thatmajolamagic/)
The Momentum Metropolitan Foundation always keeps the youth front and centre of what they do. The bad money habits that we learn from our parents can only be overcome with education about finances.
Therefore, they have united with Fineazy, an AI-powered chatbot empowering excellent, informed financial decisions. They teach young people about finance in a simple, engaging and accessible way. Kids and young adults have access to their material through WhatsApp and the platform requires low data usage, making it affordable and accessible. For example, a participant will get a message asking them if they keep their money as cash or in a bank. Depending on their answer, this programme will offer them valuable advice to make sure that they do what is best for their finances. (www.fineazy.com)
These initiatives are all geared towards serving ordinary South Africans and giving them access to financial education. We all need to manage our money better. Now, when many South Africans are stressed about their finances and uncertain about their futures, is a good time to start. By empowering people to make better financial decisions, we can help ensure a brighter, financially healthier, future for many.