How to carve out a financially stable future

The future is quite terrifying for many of us, since we have little idea what could happen tomorrow. All of a sudden, our life could change because of forces beyond our control. Though we often try to prepare for the worst case scenario, our ignorance – whether willful or not – can still blind us to possible radical changes. To help protect ourselves and our families, we must begin considering ways to create a financially stable future. This will help create a solid foundation which could help lessen any negative effects life throws at us.

Budget and save

The first thing anyone must do when tackling their financial stability is create a budget. This means having firm knowledge about how much we earn against how much we spend. Within this, we can begin creating categories of expenses: necessities, luxuries and so on. By having firm numbers, we can see if we’re spending too much on luxuries and not enough on savings.

Obviously we can’t save what we don’t have – but it could be that potential savings are being squandered on unnecessary items we can live without. We can buy cheaper food, avoid frequent social engagements, drive less and so on. Money Crashers’ budget guide notes that budgeting is key to all financial decisions.

“Once you have an established budget, you will want to keep it in check. The discipline and associated knowledge that you are making good long term and short term financial choices will … take you from living paycheck to paycheck to being able to see the long term results of your disciplined savings and financial planning.”

Learn about investments

The stock market is a tricky beast. It takes years to learn the various mechanisms, rules, players and actions involved. This is why people tend to give their money to brokers and others who work daily with such complicated systems. We should investigate what investments are best for us, depending on our budget and plans. It could be that the simplicity of, say, Sanlam unit trusts are better suited than investing in property.

Work hard, get raises

One of the most important aspects of living is earning enough to live. We have to be able to make enough that inflation doesn’t catch us. Inflation means, basically, the value of our money decreases in terms of purchasing goods and services. R50 today buys far less than R50 of ten years ago. This is why we need to focus on salary increases, since we want to stay ahead or keep up with inflation. The salary we got a few years ago might have been able to maintain our lifestyle, but today, if we have that same salary, we can do far less with it. This is not a sustainable way of living – not to mention this provides no opportunity to save and create retirement possibilities.