In the last week I have been connecting with our Money Makeover contestants who have been on their money bootcamp for three months so far. What has struck me is how many contestants commented on how taking control of their financial lives is having a positive impact on other aspects of their lives.
They talk about having more energy for other things, like looking after themselves physically and emotionally. Monique, one of our contestants from Money Makeover 2017 found more energy to put into her side business selling beauty products ‒ a year later her business has grown significantly, contributing meaningfully to the household income.
One of our current candidates, Amanda says for the first time since her husband’s death, she has the confidence and energy to start a DIY blog, while 26-year-old Samke says she is looking after her body and for the first time in ages she is reading again.
Whether we like it or not, money is the basis of everything we do, so when things are not going well financially, it impacts the rest of our lives, creating a negative cycle. We open our credit card statement, feel depressed and go eat a bar of chocolate or have a drink. We feel bad about ourselves, so we unconsciously punish ourselves by not doing the things we enjoy. So much of our head space is taken up with money worries that we have no space at all for other people or endeavours that may help us move forward.
Better money choices lead to better choices in other areas of life
What our contestants are discovering, however, is that having energy is not about more money, but rather about taking control. The very act of feeling in control of our money, of having a plan, removes stress and encourages us to make better choices about our money and our health.
“I am feeling now I can breathe. When I came into the competition, I was feeling that I can’t do anything. I was having sleepless nights, but now I can see light at the end of tunnel. I’m not there yet, but I am feeling positive,” says Thuli, a mother of four and head of operations at an NGO. Thuli is leaving her credit card at home and starting an emergency fund. She and her husband are working on a household budget so they can plan properly.
Amanda, widow and mother of three, has already found R2 600 of savings per month, despite entering the competition with the belief that there was no extra cash in her budget. “A few months ago I didn’t believe it was possible, I can’t believe the growth I have personally experienced, how much better I can handle everyday hassles, because I know I spent the time and went through every expense, realizing there are cheaper alternatives. From where I was before the competition to now, I feel like a different person, I am much more relaxed and I can see the journey I want to take,” she says.
Amanda now wants to live a simpler life with fewer possessions. “I just want to live a pure life without possessions and without the worry about money and excess.”
Samke, our youngest contestant, has found that rather than just spending haphazardly, she is now saving for the first time. “I can sleep at night. On a month-to-month basis I can survive and am able to do what I want to do. It is so important to plan and budget. If you find a balance in your finances, it will balance your whole life. I used to just complain, but now I am taking care of my finances and looking after myself.”
Follow the Money Makeover journey online ‒ maybe you’ll find some inspiration to change your life. Remember, healthy finances are not about winning the lotto. It’s about taking control.
This article first appeared in City Press.