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Financial resolutions you can stick to

Jan 4, 2021

Financial resolutions you can stick toIt’s that time of year when we all make our New Year’s resolutions. The secret to a successful resolution is to keep it simple and to break it down to something manageable. For example, don’t’ say “I am going to be debt free.” Rather select one debt that you are committed to paying off in 2021.

If you aim to starting accumulating wealth, decide how much is reasonable to commit and take the time to fill in the paperwork – believe me, filing in forms is the hardest part of the commitment!

Here are some money resolutions that you should aim to achieve this year. Select just one to achieve this month and then add a few into your diary for later in the year.

Put money away for emergencies

Any attempt at building up financial stability starts with an emergency fund. There is no point in focusing on paying off debt without building up a buffer that prevents you from falling back into debt again. The rule of thumb is to have at least three months of expenses set aside, but for now, make your resolution to have at least R15 000 in a savings account set aside for real emergencies.

Start with a single debt

Being debt free starts with a single step. Select just one, relatively small, debt and pay it off. This will be easier to achieve than tackling several debts at once and will provide you with the motivation, and cashflow, to target the next debt. Remember to close the account or cut up the card once that debt is paid, otherwise it is too easy to access the credit again.

Set up an investment debit order

You can start investing for as little as R350 a month. The hard part is selecting the investment and then completing the forms and FICA requirements. Don’t over-analyse it. Just start with a low-cost tax-free savings account offered by a unit trust company or an exchange-traded fund like SatrixNow. Most application forms have the option to include an annual escalation. Commit upfront to increasing that debit order by 10% each year for hassle-free savings.

Make a future commitment to your retirement

Speak to your HR department and ask them to increase your retirement contribution percentage when you receive your next salary increase. The money will be deducted before it hits your bank account, so you will not even miss it.

Start a contingency fund

An emergency fund is there for those unexpected life events, but we also have day-to-day expenses that push our finances beyond our budgets. For example, a holiday or buying new furniture. These are not necessarily items you can just pay for from your monthly cash flow but they can be planned for. By building up a contingency fund you don’t have to pull out the credit card or take out a personal loan when you want to spend on non-essentials.

Update your will

Everyone needs to have a will, even if you have no financial dependents. There will still be family or friends responsible for winding up your affairs should something happen to you. A will makes it a lot easier for them. If you haven’t updated or even looked at your will in a few years you need to read through it and see if anything needs to be updated. There are online wills which meet requirements for a small, uncomplicated estate, but if you have children or several assets, it is worth seeing an expert to get the right advice.

Write up a list

It’s time to get your admin in order so book time now in your diary to commit to putting together a list of all your investments, policies and bank accounts. Include the full name of the product as well as the reference number. This will give you an overall idea of what investments and policies you have, and it makes it easier for your family to handle your finances should something happen to you. You may even discover a savings account you had forgotten about.

This article first appeared in City Press.


  1. Good Day
    Kindly send me your weekly tips and newsletter

    • There is a box on the home page to sign up for the newsletter. There was a technical issue last week so please could you try again and let me know if it works

  2. Hi,
    In most of your articles you advice on Satrix products are they good on TFS or RA?Should i consider Allan Gray.

    • Satrix is a range of passive investments – so they just track the average return of the markets it is invested in. Allan Gray is an active manager so makes decisions about what specific shares to invest in. Active managers charge a higher fee for this expertise so this is where the debate comes in. Are their higher fees justified? Personally I have a mix of both. My TFSAs are all with Satrix but I do have my RA with an active manager – this is because I happen to like their process as they target income in retirement. So there is no right or wrong answer – which I guess does make it a bit more complicated. Bottom line, check your total fee structure – if it is more than 1.5% it would be very difficult for an active manager to outperform significantly enough to justify the higher fee

  3. I have been postponing to start saving, this year I am serious about it and I want to do it and see how much I can save.


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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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