Save to get your future financially on track

F YOU don't get your finances right, you can't get your future right. And because this is so crucial, financial decisions cannot be taken lightly. People want to feel involved in the process, a brand research project by Old Mutual has found.

F YOU don't get your finances right, you can't get your future right. And because this is so crucial, financial decisions cannot be taken lightly. People want to feel involved in the process, a brand research project by Old Mutual has found.

The consumer insights distilled from the research has inspired Old Mutual to launch a new brand direction. We have taken a long hard look at ourselves and evaluated the role we wish to play in the lives of our customers. The exercise has led us to the core essence of our brand. We want to enable our customers to have a positive future and be the best they can be by utilising the wisdom that we have gathered over the last 165 years.

So with this in mind, we take a look at helping you to free up some money so that you are able to use it to become financially independent.

Perhaps you're trapped in a debt spiral - you get into debt, clear it when you get a cash windfall, and then promptly start going into debt again.

It is a good idea to pay off your debts, but then change your habit and only use cash going forward. You start by paying off the most expensive debt first such as your credit cards and shop cards that charge the highest interest rates.

Once you have cleared your debts and work on a cash basis, you can start thinking about investing your money for important goals, making your money work for you and not you working for your creditors.

We live in a consumer society where everything is for today. We want to look successful and are exposed to so many products and brands compared to what previous generations were exposed to.

Think back to how our parents or grandparents lived - probably single-income families with only the bare necessities.

Today we have two-income families in many cases, yet we struggle to make ends meet.

Some people are failing to consider the impact of their living-for -today lifestyle in terms of their future financial wellbeing - they live from payday to payday and have no spare money to save.

These folk are either living beyond their means or are spending the money on luxury items that are not necessities.

It is therefore important not to dip into the money when you are living beyond your means as this will result in you never actually reducing your debt.

Some examples of where you may be able to free up some extra cash could include:

l Scaling down from the most expensive designer brand to a more affordable brand whether in clothing, perfume, make-up or beauty products;

l Cutting down on takeaways and eating out regularly - to rather cooking at home;

l Entertaining at home. Rather host a bring-and-braai where you suggest everyone bring along their own meat for the braai and whatever they want to drink - and you only provide salads and bread. Everyone understands that times are tough and this will start creating a culture among friends without putting unnecessary financial pressure on each other;

l Instead of going out for lunch or brunch - have something at home and only go out for a coffee;

l Cutting down on buying your children the latest cellphones - or putting them on a pay-as-you-go or setting a limit on their cellphone bills. Teach them responsible money management from a young age and let them pay their own bills out of their pocket money;

l You can cut down on your electricity bill by doing one load of washing as opposed to washing every day - or only use the dishwasher when it is full;

l By entertaining at home and cutting down on weekends away, you can save on your petrol bill.

The good news for homeowners is that interest rates have recently dropped by 0, 5percent and this will put extra money into your pocket.

However, how many people are actually saving this extra money, or adding to their existing savings? Interest rates have been coming down steadily over the past 12 months, yet people are still not saving more.

We "consume" the extra income instead of paying off debt or making savings a priority. By immediately placing the additional cash into a form of savings or towards your home loan, the money will be well spent, will not be missed and good habits will be cultivated.

lThe writer is Old Mutual's director of corporate affairs.

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