Publication Date: 24/08/2015

It used to be that money management was considered the domain of the breadwinning male. Women would manage the household and generally avoid discussing money matters, as it was usually a contentious issue to address with their partners, but times have changed. In the second quarter of 2015, 6.9 million women were employed in South Africa alone, and in this bourgeoning of females in the workforce, women have discovered how liberating it can be to be financially independent and involved in the planning and managing of their family’s budget. With this in mind, we’re putting an emphasis on educating (some of these first generation professional) women about managing their finances. Not everyone enjoys math but not being a “numbers person” does not mean you managing your finances is complicated. Through the use of modern tools, the planning and understanding of your and your family’s budget and savings can be simple and successful.

For instance, saving from your first pay cheque is a very important habit to develop and keep throughout your career. Saving should not be an interim process, but a life-long behaviour which, if properly done, can reap innumerable rewards, peace of mind and a good quality of life. In the last year stats revealed that a higher percentage of women were unemployed than men, an income protection plan is worth considering but generally savings are an imperative for surviving the lean months should you find yourself between jobs. Burying ones’ head in the sand and hoping all will work out is simply not an option in today’s fluctuating economy.

Another behaviour to exercise is self-control when it comes to sales and specials – saving is great and everyone loves specials, but oftentimes it leads to purchasing of non-special and non-essential items and this defeats the good intentions and erodes the budget.

In South Africa 41.3% of households are female-headed and women are often guilty of placing the needs of their families before their own and not thinking of the financial consequences of daily unbudgeted costs which have a bigger financial impact on their lives at a later stage.

With this in mind it is important to keep an eye on debts and making sure expenses don’t get out of control because, regardless of your stage in life, it is important to maintain a good credit record so that you can have access to credit – good credit, should you need it.

Be able to communicate confidently and openly about money with your family and firmly establish the value of living within your means and not being “just in case” shoppers. This should allow you to enable your family to achieve their savings goals and to avoid “the need to want it now” habit.

The best way to begin is to have a budget that:

  • Is simple and easy to keep up with – categorise the difference between needs and wants
  • Assists in identifying your income and expenditure
  • Is flexible to accommodate unexpected expenditure
  • Includes short-term and long-term savings
  • Limits the need to use your credit card

It is also advisable that you periodically assess the type of bank account you have and whether it appropriately meets your ever-changing needs.

A last word of advice is start saving for retirement as soon as possible and to keep these retirement savings, even when changing jobs. This is most important because it’s no secret that women live longer than men. In fact, women live 5 to 10 years longer than men, must be the remarkable inner strength they’re born with.