Tuesday, 1 April 2014

One Shilling at a time


Sometime last year, something awakened within me. It was almost like a financial awakening with respect to my finances. I was straight out of university, having finished school in May 2013 and waiting to graduate later that year. All through university I never attached much thought or importance to my money; how much I spent, saved and all of that. As long as I had the basic amount to take me through the week and for my weekend shenanigans I was good to go. I occasionally saved but sometimes found myself picking into my savings and using them up.

I later learnt of a company called Centonomy offering classes on Personal Financial Management. The irony is I had done several classes on Financial management and Accounting in school, but I never applied that to my personal life; it was almost as if the two were mutually exclusive. And it’s funny how day-to-day some people work in areas where they manage huge portfolios and investments, and do their work to almost perfection. But if you intrinsically look at their personal finances, it’s a mess. . So why is there that disconnect? Why isn’t that knowledge trickling into our personal lives?

Well I think part of the problem is our education system. We go through school to pass exams, graduate, get jobs, apply that knowledge at work and it ends there. Our system doesn’t take a life approach, a more practical approach.. We don’t learn how to apply the skills learnt in our day-to-day lives. Secondly, our financial literacy as a society is really wanting. I can personally say I was financially clueless. I choose to believe that through the re-awakening I spoke of earlier, I am trying to change that.

Centonomy is a great initiative and I laud the efforts of its founder, Waceke Nuati. The purpose of Centonomy is to play a part in helping people Create Wealth so that they Live Abundantly. It consists of an eleven week course on all matters money. From calculating your net worth to budgeting, personal money management, Time value of money, Managing Debt, Financial Planning, a step by step look at the different investment opportunities out there- the myths, truths and falsehoods, estate planning-writing a will, planning for retirement. All of that. Are you amazed? Well I certainly was.

The beauty is that the class brings together people of all ages and backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if you are a recent graduate, 20-something running your successful company, 30-something working-class individual, or probably in you 50’s thinking of retirement; when we are in that class, we are on the same level- eager “students”. The classes are practical and discuss real life situations, actual facts, not just some hullaballoo in the air. Different participants have a world of knowledge to share, people who’ve been through the dogs share their real experiences, challenges, financial mistakes, and the young share their fears, dreams- it’s a symbiotic relationship. I found it amazing. And there are various group activities you do, so you find that people make key connections and friendships, form investment groups together and even go into business together. So I can rightly say my financial awakening came through this course I went through.
You can learn more about Centonomy and what they do by checking out their website: http://www.centonomy.com/

I would like to share with you a few nuggets of gold I came across in an article on “The Best Financial Advice for Young People starting Out”

From Manisha Thakor founder and chief executive of Santa Fe, N.M.-based MoneyZen Wealth Management LLC
“Three financial lessons that I believe can literally change a young person's life forever:
a.  Know what healthy spending looks like. The rule of thumb to remember is: 50/30/20 The idea is 50% of your pay goes to needs, 30% to wants, 20% to savings. Keep that rule of thumb in mind and you can avoid so many classic financial mistakes.
b.  Start saving NOW. Those are the three most powerful words in personal finance.
c.  Don’t expect to live like your parents right out of the gate. I've noticed an increasing number of young people expecting to have lifestyles like their parents within a few years out of school. To the extent you can remind yourself of the price your parents had to pay to get where they are and base your expectations on your income and not what you see in the media, you will find yourself on much more solid financial ground.”

From Raphael Pardo: Harness the Power of Compounding
“There is no doubt that living in the moment and consuming your earnings can be a lot more fun than the delayed gratification of saving for retirement. But some quick calculations will quickly reveal how difficult it is to make up for lost time. And to harness the power of compounding to its full extent requires savings discipline”

From Greg McBride, senior Financial Analyst: Prepare financially for rain days
“Build an emergency savings cushion! Nothing helps you sleep better at night than knowing you have money tucked away for a rainy day.”

From Michael Kitces: Your income must rise faster than your lifestyle
“If you make good prudent decisions about the big things like what you drive and where you live, it actually leaves a lot of flexibility to not need to sweat the small stuff at all."

You can read the article here:

I think at the end of the day it all comes down to: Knowing your financial goal which determines your financial plan, and taking the necessary steps to realize that. It doesn’t matter if you are still in university, just graduated, whether you are running a business or have been working for several years, the most important thing is to start NOW, wherever you are. Trust me, you wont regret it.


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