You are only young once! Take advantage of time and become money-wise

by John Manyike - Old Mutual Head of Education

You are only young once! Take advantage of time and become money-wiseThere is no greater time than now, during National Youth Month, to encourage young people to become financially literate, in order to empower them, prepare them for adulthood and instil good financial habits as soon as possible that will ensure a better, more prosperous future for themselves, their families and their futures.

South Africa is a youthful country, with more than a third of our population under the age of 35. With about 66 percent of our youth unemployed, it becomes even more important to encourage those who are fortunate enough to be employed to be financially literate and look at the benefits of effective money management, saving and investing.

Financially literacy should not be underestimated. Not only will the youth benefit from financial knowledge that will contribute to their personal financial security, but their financial wisdom will also play a critical role in improving our nation’s savings levels. With a better savings culture, our government will be able to invest in infrastructure projects that will not only create jobs for other youth, but will also result in a positive ripple effect for the growth of the economy and long-term benefits for future generations.

When you have just started working, it may feel strange to be thinking about the financial building blocks you will need during your life and even about retirement. After all, shouldn’t this time be spent on enjoyment, buying dream cars, travelling, and all the good things that money can buy? That may be, but it is also the ideal time to use your youth to your benefit and begin investing in your future.

Make wealth creation a priority

Unemployed youth who join the labour market late in life will have to race against time to close the asset accumulation gap. Entrepreneurship for the youth is critical and should take centre stage instead of formal employment. We need inspired youth to boost the economy by being employers instead of employees.

Everyone’s financial situation is different, but the steps to having the money you need as you pass through the different life stages are simple:

Compound interest is key for the youth

Compound interest is an essential concept to understand when managing your finances. It can help you to earn a higher return on your savings and investments.

Think about compound interest a bit like what happens when the “snowball effect” occurs. A snowball starts small, but the more snow that’s added, the bigger it gets. As it grows, it becomes bigger at a faster rate.

Compound interest is interest earned from the original principal plus accumulated interest. Not only are you earning interest on your initial deposit, but you’re also earning interest on the interest.

Other simple steps to follow:

Start and stick to your budget

This is the best way to be the boss of your money, by keeping track of your means and meeting your financial obligations and goals

Apply the 50/30/20 rule: 50% of your income should go to essentials, 30 percent to what you want, and 20% to savings, investments and retirement funding.

Pay yourself first

Ensuring that money for long- and short-term savings is deducted from your pay-cheque before you begin spending will prevent the urge to buy that pair of new sneakers. Left alone, these funds will benefit from the magic of compound interest and automatically grow. Part of investing in yourself is controlling spending. Using banking apps and the financial tools on the web can help ensure that you don’t spend what you don’t have.

Enquire about a retirement annuity

Speak to a financial adviser about a retirement annuity (RA). Acquiring an RA means committing yourself to funds that you can access only after you reach the age of 55. The advantages of RAs are that they are tax-efficient, and when you retire, you are entitled to a tax-free payment of up to R 500 000 from the accumulated funds. Explore this with your financial adviser. Your enquiry must form part of your needs and affordability analysis, which your adviser is obliged to do.

Protect yourself and your assets

The best time to buy insurance is when you are young. Premiums are primarily based on age, so the younger you are when you buy a policy, the more cover you can afford and the cheaper your premiums.

For most, your 20s and early 30s are the most exciting formative years of your life. They are about finding yourself, enjoying freedom, learning, buying what you want and, hopefully, building a prosperous and sustainable career. With a bit of additional financial wisdom thrown into the mix, this knowledge could be the platform that could enable you to build your financial legacy and follow a financial plan that could see you accumulating wealth, securing a happy retirement and living your exceptional life.

This article was published on the IOL Website on 9 June 2021

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