Get on top of your finances and start the year off strong

Serious young dark-skinned man in spectacles uses a cellphone and calculator while calculating family expenses, trying to save some money to buy a new car, sitting in front of an open laptop computer. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 15, 2024


Durban — To transform our financial fortunes, we first have to transform our thinking about money, says Dr Khosi Jiyane, a clinical psychologist whose work focuses on transformative learning, accountability and change.

She said that our relationship with money was shaped from an early age, and growing up in a home with all the material comforts may lead to us taking money for granted.

“Conversely, growing up where there is a lack can be the basis for a negative relationship with money. Whatever our upbringing, in adulthood most poor financial decisions come from how we think about money.”

Dr Jiyane said December overspending follows us into January, February and beyond, without being checked.

“Financial depletion and the financial anxiety that follows says as much about the time of year as it does about who we are as a person.”

She said humans are social, emotional and relational beings, programmed to seek pleasure but avoid pain.

“The December holidays are a time for earned pleasure, and we postpone any thought of the financial consequences. We look for instant gratification, delaying the subsequent pain, but we need to find a balance in life. We cannot live for the moment at the financial expense of tomorrow.

“If we do this, we run the risk of getting stuck on a financial treadmill and losing ourselves in debt. So how do we find the balance and separate money from our emotions?” she asked.

Dr Jiyane suggested finding small, inexpensive joys and rewards in life, in order to reach the end of the month, or the year, energised and solvent.

“We cannot make our self-value about our net worth – the two are not the same – and trying to keep up financially with friends can quickly lead down a path of financial depletion.”

When it comes to a relationship with family and explaining a lack of money, Dr Jiyane advised telling the truth in a way that is age-appropriate for children.

“They don’t need to know all the details, just that as a parent, you are committed to providing them with everything they need, even if that’s not the same as everything they want. Learning the difference between the two from an early age encourages a healthy attitude to spending later in life,” Jiyane said.

She emphasised the importance of learning to live with our reality and not with dreams that are beyond our financial reach.

Rapule Mahlangu, a financial adviser with Metropolitan, said: “If you sense that the year is already running away with you, look for help. Metropolitan has the tools to equip people with psychological and practical support when it comes to managing finances.”

Mahlangu said working with a financial planner to map out a corrective course of action helps to keep one on track, preventing the kind of self-sabotage that results from an unhealthy attitude to money.

“Instead of seeing yourself as a victim, see yourself as a creator of opportunities, if not today, then in the future. Starting the year strong and getting on top of your finances now will help you end the year emotionally and financially stronger,” Mahlangu said.

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