retirementSo, you think you’re pretty good at managing your money? You know all there is to know about your finances? There’s a pretty good chance you’re wrong and that you’re not nearly as good at managing your money as you think you are. In fact, a recent World Bank Report called South Africans the biggest borrowers in the world with 9 out of 10 borrowing money regularly to make ends meet. And only one in 10 South Africans is able to maintain their standards of living in retirement. If you can't picture yourself eating beans in a shared hostel when you're 70, the reality is you'd better start saving. To figure out how good or bad you are when it comes to all matters money, see if you identify with these six points. You don’t know how much money comes in and goes out each month For many people, payday comes as a surprise each month. The amount of money coming into their account comes as the next surprise. And then the debit orders start flying out of your account, each as it’s own surprise. The reality is that you should know exactly, down to the cent, how much money is expected to come into and go out of your bank account on each payday. You have credit card debt Credit cards can be helpful at certain times. They can help you out in an emergency. They can be helpful in accruing points and rewards. But the reality is, they’re not a way of life. If you do have a credit card, you need to be careful to pay it off in full each month. The interest charged on credit card debt is enormous and could seriously impact your ability to pay this debt. You’re surprised by your bills every month Your bills shouldn’t be a surprise. In fact, most of them are recurring amounts on a monthly basis. You should also have a list of all your monthly expenses, with the dates when the money is debited from your account. That way you can tick each off as it’s debited so you’ll know what still to go off and how much money you need to keep in your account. You’re stressed about your finances If you spend time worrying and thinking about you finances, you’re not good with money. Your finances should be clockwork, routine. They should be boring. Nothing should surprise you. In fact, investor George Soros famously said: “If investing is entertaining, if you’re having fun, you’re probably not making any money. Good investing is boring. You should know, down to a couple rand, how much you have in your bank accounts at all times. Being stressed about money means you're not thinking positively about your finances. And without that, how are you supposed to plan how you’re going to earn more, what your next side hustle is and how you’re going to spend your money in a planned and responsible manner. You’re not saving for retirement This is the most obvious way you’ll know you’re not good with your money. If you’re not setting anything aside for your future, you’re doing your future self a disservice. If you’re not setting money aside now, while you’re young, how do you expect to do it later in life? The reality is that you will become used to your income. You will enjoy spending every cent of it. Why would you ever decide to save any of it? But it’s important that you realise the time to save is now, while you’re young. This is when compound interest has time to work. Financial experts recommend you have one full year's salary saved by the time you’re 30, two full year's salary saved by the time you’ve been working for 10 years and 12 times your salary by the time you’ve been working for 40 years. Of course, it’s an excellent idea to save even more and get ahead of those average amounts. If you’re interested in learning more about the importance of saving and investing, it’s a good idea to start doing some research. There are plenty of investment resources and articles available online which can assist in putting you on the right track to a successful financial future. You feel like you can’t talk about money with loved ones When was the last time you discussed credit card debt or your savings habits with a loved one? If you can’t remember the last time, you may be hiding something or be worried about their judgement. It’s important that you’re able to discuss these issues and have them out in the open. Otherwise, you’re just going to be stressing and worrying about your money by yourself. A problem shared is a problem halved, as the well-known maxim goes. Who knows? Your friend or roommate might also be struggling with their finances. Talking about your money worries together could help you both come up with a plan of action to save more money. Having a handle on your personal finances can make your life a whole lot easier. You’re less likely to find yourself living from paycheque to paycheque and you’ll have a system of managing your money that works!

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