You are not stuck. You have choices.You can think new thoughts. You can learn something new. You can create new habits. All that matters is that you decide today and never look back.” -Awaken_Healers
Mgarimbe’s song has been the theme song for December for over a decade, the anthem to lose your mind and all sense in the spirit of Dezemba. We really do lose our minds and all financial sense in December. The memes are endless and more absurd with each year, “‘tis the season to lose our minds, hebere!!”
I love December and like Friday and payday, the lead up comprises of long, strenuous, coffee filled marathons of disappointment and agony. The promise of holiday cheer and the winding down of commerce makes up for all of it. Much like Sister Bethina, conspicuous consumption remains the theme for every December. We feel obligated to blow big on get togethers and afterwork drinks which are guaranteed budget busters. It is never just one or two drinks, ke Dezemba mos! Year in and year out we cling to the bad habits that keep us from making lasting change.
I looked back at some pictures of me from a year ago. I looked great! Skin glowing, hair done, pink gel overlay fresh and a carefree pose, wracking up debt and spending recklessly. I accepted countless invitations and swiping to win at life, happiness and maybe a new ride. Fast forward to today, as I type after a long day of work, I can’t remember the last time I did a full face of make up. I have given my wig a break and gone for a more modest hairstyle, bare nails and can’t remember the last time I bought a new item of clothing other than my dress for my cousin’s wedding. I joked once how when I decided to get my financial act together, my appearance took a knock, an American said, “ guurl, you ain’t supposed to look cute while you’re working. If you look cute, that means you ain’t doing it right! I may look a mess but my bank account be looking good!” I burst out laughing, throwing my head back and catching the disapproving stares of those around me.
December is a very tough time of the year for personal finances, this is the part of the test that we fail. Many of you reading this are probably operating bank accounts that are on low or “E” waiting for the early injection of cash by employers and/or metshelo and spend that too. We are irresponsible with money, heavily indebted and have barely scratched the surface where our savings are concerned. Financially we are in a scary place; we look good, smell good and drive with style but we are broke, one payday or big life event away from financial turmoil.
The money we will receive for December comes early, for some with a little extra. I want to bring forward an unusual proposition; use the entire (yes, the whole thing) 13th cheque into savings, as a starter emergency fund and for the rest of us ba dikoloto use the entire amount to make a dent in our debt. This sounds absurd, but so is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, spending all you have and expecting there to be some money left when you need it for something important.
As many people are on leave or will be going on leave, take the time to reflect on your money habits this past year and recall the many retrenchments that happened this year. The main cause of distress is the thought of how we will pay our creditors and how to survive on meagre remains.
In the August issue of Forbes Woman magazine, Kylie Jenner was said to be on track to becoming the youngest self made billionaire. Many people were very upset by this, but I came to the realisation that our parents should ideally be our stepping stone to success. Kylie Jenner did not start at zero, which some have to contend with but she used her stepping stone to catapult her to the billionaires club. December can be the thing that catapults us to an amazing and fruitful 2019.
How you spend the money you receive in December almost always sets the tone for the rest of the year. If you mishandled it, it is doing damage control the entire year. You can’t undo all the terrible decisions of December with a resolution to “be better with money” when the clock strikes 12 on January 1st. This is it, this is the part of the test that we fail at every year. I overhead some people discussing sales and where to get what . Let me speak on the side of change and different mind sets- you save 100% if you do not buy anything. Enough is enough! We have shopped enough, we have enough house, cars, clothes and the other things we want to jam into our overflowing yards. We have partied enough.
Re rekile gontse betsho! There is more we can do with our money than paying instalments and spending.
The night before mama sent me off to uni, she gave me the talk and encouraged me not to party my years away and to focus on school, sadly I did not heed this advice. I often remind myself that there will always be time for fun. When you don’t owe anyone money, have sufficient emergency savings, are investing and saving for your children’s future, you can buy all the car, house and clothes you want. People who tell you life is short are probably trying to sell you something.
It really starts with a decision to get you financial act together. You don’t have to be a hero , you have to be what most people aren’t, consistent.
Visit the “ Help, I’m broke with Nina Tladi” Facebook group for more discussions and encouragement to get out of the broke cycle.