American professor of mathematics, John Allen Paulos is attributed with saying ‘uncertainty is the only certainty’. This is true for job security, future working environments, and even if Manchester United really are title contenders again! If uncertainty teaches us one thing, it is that we can control only what is within our control.
Duann Cronje, a Certified Financial Planner at Fiscal Private Client Services shares how to take control in your personal financial planning to secure the best possible outcome in an uncertain world.
He explains, “The unpredictability of investment returns, the next best performing fund, market cycles and even currency performance can all impact our investment outcomes, and these factors remain largely out of our control. So, what can we do to ensure we achieve our desired investment incomes?”
Despite uncertain returns (which are not within control), save as much as you can
Start by examining how much money you can put aside each month so that even among market uncertainty and stagnant interest rates you are saving as much as you can. Just R100 or R200 extra every month on top of your savings will go a long way over a 10-year period.
Cronje illustrates as follows, “A R2 000.00 per month savings with an 8% return, gives you roughly R368 331.35 1after 10 years. Add R100 and your R2100.00 per month investment, achieving a 7% return will total approximately R365 598.38. 2 That is only
R2 732,97 short at a lower return. Add R200 and your R2 200 per month with 6% return will leave you with R362 337.24 3– that’s only R5 994,11 less over a 10-year period.”
The point, says Cronje, is that when consumers are not sure of what returns they can secure in an uncertain market, squeezing R100 or R200 extra out their budget to save every month, will go a long way and closely match outcomes in the better performing years.
How to save money and grow the capital
“Nobody likes the word ‘budget’ as it conjures up negative sentiment, but in this case no pain no gain! And if you can endure a little pain by saving, you can see the long-term gain in the numbers shared above,” says Cronje.
The rule is never to spend more than you earn, so start by recording exactly what you earn or receive monthly, and then list all your expenses. Include those big expenses that you foresee over the coming five years, these can include house renovation, an overseas holiday, or a new car.
Having a clear plan where you can monitor your expenses is important and it will keep you disciplined. Look for patterns in your spending and be honest with yourself – can you go without that daily cappuccino? Are you visiting the mall every weekend and splurging on unnecessary items? Would you rather wine and dine twice a week for the coming year or use some or all that money towards a holiday that will help you to recharge.
The best day to start saving is today
“The key is to start saving today. It becomes addictive as you see your money grow. If you save more money than planned, for as long as planned, your financial goal will almost certainly be reached. Be disciplined about putting money away every month and prioritise how you spend. This will help you stay on track and make good choices to live the life you choose to live,” concludes Cronje.