Becoming financially independent

Being financially independent means that you’re completely responsible for your own expenses, or no longer rely on your guardian/partner to give you money or cover some of your bills. Financial independence can mean different things to different people, but it’s important for us girls to work towards being independent and empowered to make our own life decisions. Here’s how.

Assess yourself

Learning about ourselves isn’t always easy. But the more you know about yourself, the better decisions you’ll make about your lifestyle. Start by evaluating your skills and achievements. This can help you decide on ways to make income, such as finding a job (part time/full time) or starting a business.

Examples of part-time jobs could be a shop assistant, waitress or a part-time bank teller, to name a few. Also, working part-time will look good on your college/university application and future job applications.

Set financial goals

Writing down your life goals and how you’ll achieve them financially is a good step. This includes re-writing and reviewing your short- and long-term goals consistently, and thinking of ways to accomplish them. For example, short-term goals can be focusing on debt payment and a long-term goal can be budgeting towards a house or car. It’s important to be patient when reviewing your long-term goals.

Deal with debt

Unfortunately, you can’t get financial freedom while you’re in debt, Choma. There are many ways to plan how you’ll pay off your debts, such as these ones. You can also contact a debt counsellor to assist with managing your debt.

Draw up a budget

Budgeting is a must. It can help you control your spending, track your expenses, and save more money. Budgeting can also help you make better financial decisions, prepare for emergencies, get out of debt, and stay focused on your long-term financial goals.

Try not to be too hard on yourself when trying to stick to your monthly budget, because there may come a time when you may need to tap into your savings for something important.

Start saving now

Financial planners always say it’s important to save 10% of your income for future needs, for emergencies, and to have something to fall back on when needed. Saving isn’t easy, and requires a lot of discipline to stay on track, but it’s the single most important habit that’ll change your life. It doesn’t matter how much you earn; putting a portion aside will start building your savings. Learning to save early in life will help you achieve your goals much quicker, and get you financially independent.

Be disciplined

Although it’s a good idea to have some spending freedom now and then, having financial discipline allows you to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy spending. Automating your savings helps you avoid the temptation to spend your money on things you don’t need. You can talk to your bank about automating your savings. 

Organising and planning our finances is vital. We need to have a healthy relationship with money so we can be mindful of where our income goes, and also be able to plan for the future. Following these simple tips will help you become more financially independent. Do you have any other tips? Share them in the comments!

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

The Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

Whether you’re finishing up matric or just starting up, your sights are already set on what you’re going to do after school. Many of us have it all planned out with Varsity, College or Technicon applications sent off, or our CV’s prepped to start internships or enter into the workforce. Then again, many of us aren’t too sure what we want to do just yet, or, even if we are, we need to take some time off to explore and grow on a personal level. For these people, the gap year usually gives some much needed perspective. A gap year is a break between school and university where you might choose to do other things, like work or travel. 

When deciding if a gap year is for you, there are a few Pros and Cons to consider:

Cons:

  • Money – Taking a gap year can be very expensive. If you’re lucky enough to have family who can support this, awesome! But the reality for most is you’ll need careful planning and saving to pull it or off. Volunteer work can also be fun, how about being an Au Pair (work overseas by doing housework or helping with childcare in exchange for food, a room and some pocket money)? Or why not try out as a summer camp counsellor overseas? These are great ways to travel to new countries and meet new people while earning money for varsity.
  • Getting homesick – If you choose to travel overseas, the reality is that you will miss your family, remember to stay in regular contact and keep in mind you’ll be together again soon enough.
  • Losing momentum in your studies – So you finally got the hang of studying with grade 11 and Matric exams and now you take a year off without a hint of schoolwork? For some, taking a gap year makes it hard to return to studying and varsity afterwards.

 Pros:

  • Personal growth – Gap years can be your chance to shine, away from home and learning to stand on your own feet can provide your first taste of adulthood.
  • Learning about new cultures – If you choose to go to a different country, you will gain experience in different ways of life, you might even learn a new language – Bonus!
  • Gaining work experience before varsity – Doing volunteer work or taking a job in your gap year can give you great experience and your first entry into the working world. Even if you study after this, your CV will have so much more to offer.

Any way you look at it, both good and bad, taking a gap year can be a life changing experience. Are you considering one? Let me know, I’d love to hear your plans chomas!