Quirky strategies to turn your cents into rands

Get started with 52-week challenge

Does talk of saving a percentage of your salary every month scare you? The challenge to save just a few rands at a time may be more palatable - like eating an elephant one bite at a time. 

Picture: 123RF/VANESSA BENTLEY
Picture: 123RF/VANESSA BENTLEY

Does talk of saving scare you? Are you daunted by committing to saving a percentage of your salary every month?

Perhaps, the challenge to save just a few rands at a time is more palatable - like eating an elephant one bite at a time. 

“A savings culture starts with thinking and planning ahead. Saving and long-term planning can be daunting for some and so it’s often ignored,” Kerry Sutherland, senior wealth manager at Alexander Forbes Financial Planning Consultants, says. 

Retirement experts say you should save between 15% and 20% of your monthly income. But if you aren’t up to that, start saving by playing money games and setting money challenges.

A challenge that has become popular worldwide and has made its way to SA is the 52-week challenge which started in the United States.

It allows you to slowly develop your commitment to saving by starting with a realistic and achievable R10 a week, increasing in R10 increments every week thereafter. So you save R10 in week one, R20 in week two, R30 in week three and R40 in week four and so on. By the end of the year, you should have close to R15,000 saved. 

If R10 increments are too high for you, try the #10cChallenge initiated by Bright Khumalo, a portfolio manager at Vestact.

“The 10c challenge is easy. You take the day of the year, for example day 42, and you multiply by 10c and save that amount. Meaning 42 x 10c = R4.20. You stick to this on a daily basis and your savings at the end of the year should be around R6,000,” Khumalo explains. 

You can’t put holiday money in a high-risk investment like shares because if it goes pear-shaped, your relationship could be at risk and you become the guy/girl who lost holiday money betting on the stock market.
Bright Khumalo, a portfolio manager at Vestact

Gerald Mwandiambira, certified financial planner and director at the Financial Planning Institute, says while savings games and challenges can get you started, you might want to try something a little more automated, especially if you’re prone to dipping into savings. 

“You could consider automated savings via an app,” he advises. 

Liberty’s Stash app allows you to save small amounts a day from any debit, credit or cheque account.

Your money is invested in a tax-free savings account, meaning you can contribute up to R36,000 in a year and R500,000 over a lifetime, tax-free. Any interest, dividends and capital gains are tax free. 

You link the app to your bank card and can start saving right away, without having to work your way through heaps of forms and formalities. The app prompts you to stash money when it’s sunny (save for a rainy day), after every workout (stash when you sweat), or whenever you’re in the mood to save.

Glenn Grimley, chief specialist of ecosystem products at Liberty Group, says more than 60,000 users have downloaded the app and more than 40,000 tax-free savings accounts have been opened thanks to Stash. “R80 million has been invested by our customers, and that’s R10 here R25 there,” he says. 

Other apps that may help you get going on savings goals by analysing your spending so you find room to save are 22Seven and Nedbank's My Financial Life. These apps give you an overview of your income and spending, which can help you identify where in your budget you can save money to set aside to reach your money goals. 

Once you get yourself into the habit of saving and develop your discipline, you need to learn how to correctly allocate your savings to maximise your returns. 

A common myth about investing is that you need a fat account to get started when in reality, the process of building a solid portfolio can begin with a few hundred rand. 

You just need to choose the right investment for your goal and its time horizon. “You can’t put holiday money in a high-risk investment like shares because if it goes pear-shaped, your relationship could be at risk and you become the guy/girl who lost holiday money betting on the stock market,” Khumalo warns. 

Investment houses have made it more affordable to access investments through tax-free savings accounts, slashing their minimum investment amounts to help you start your investment. Coronation, for example, lets you start with R250 a month on a debit order you can stop at any time.

Investment houses offer you investments in shares with potentially higher returns, but you need to invest for at least five years and be able to sit out the market ups and downs. 

If your investment horizon is shorter, like three years, you may need a lower exposure to shares and more in bonds and other fixed-interest instruments that can give you a bit more than money in the bank.  

EasyEquities is an investment platform that allows you to invest very small amounts, and SatrixNow or the Franc app also make use of EasyEquities' platform to allow you to invest very small amounts at relatively low fees. 

Outsurance’s OUTvest is a DIY investment platform that gives you access to advice about how to invest and access to index-tracking investments through the website or phone app. 

On all four of these platforms you can access equity investments or reduce your risk by investing across asset classes in a multi-asset investment or invest virtually risk-free in a money market unit trust fund.

You can also withdraw your money at any time without incurring any penalties but the more investment risk you take, the longer you should invest to ensure good returns.

If you are still unsure, Mwandiambira suggests you speak to a financial adviser who can guide you on an investment plan for your savings to ensure you reach your wealth goals. 

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