Circle of men and women sitting in plastic chairs drone in chorus: Hi Jon
And I’m a personal finance moron.
Circle of men and women nod their heads sympathetically. One of them stands up and gives me a hug. I freeze uncomfortably until it’s over. The hugger sits down again.
It’s not a medical condition or anything. I know the various values of the little colourful slips of paper with Madiba on them that I trade for Woolies meals.
I even have a credit card and a savings account.
That’s right, a savings account.
Apparently that’s one of the first signs of a financially clueless person. Or not? I just don’t know.
But I will say that my tattered savings card has a picture of a soccer player performing a dynamic sliding kick on it. Because I got it in 2010, during the world cup.
That’s the last time I went into a bank. That’s how much I hate banks, and personal finance.
Before I get to why I’m writing this, and why you should care, let me give you the short, short version of my current position in life. If you are under 25 and cannot handle reading more than 155 characters without a picture, feel free to go back to Buzzfeed’s “Top 10 finance tips that will destroy everything you thought you knew about money”.
I’m in my mid-thirties, I’m a writer by trade, and I have a good job in the creative industry. I hold a position that would probably be described as ‘middle management’, in a company of about 100 people. I earn pretty good money, and I don’t live a particularly profligate lifestyle. My only expensive hobby is international travel, something I try to do twice a year.
As I said, I’m sure I’m earning more than I spend, and I assume that some of that extra cash is piling up in the corner of my personal gold vault (that’s how it works, right?) and someday I’ll be able to swim around in it like Scrooge McDuck.
I live in a quiet, leafy-green suburb in a nice but ageing apartment, for which I am lucky to pay a very low rent.
I drive a classic 1993 Mercedes 190E. Well, I’m not sure if it’s a classic, but it’s in good nick and it’s old, which qualifies it in my books. I have third-party car insurance that costs me about R50 a month, so HAH! I’m winning at something.
I’ve got a hospital plan, my company deducts something called PAYE from my salary and every month some of my Madiba papers go into something called an RA, which I think stands for “Really Asset”, because that’s how much time I spend thinking about this stuff.
Over the last couple of years, and after many pained expressions on the faces of my father, brother and many friends, I’ve decided that I need help. Fortunately, help has arrived in the form of WellSpent.
I think I represent a segment of the population who have good jobs and earn good money, but honestly don’t really know what to do with it. Does that sound like you?
You mean well, and you’re pretty well educated otherwise, but nobody really taught you this stuff when you were a kid.
Perhaps you took accounting in school (I did, but it didn’t work, apparently), or you even did some courses at university. Or perhaps you’re farther along your financial journey than me, with some smart investments on the bubble and a small piece of property being slowly paid off in the background of your life.
But my assumption is that the day to day best practices of making money, keeping money and making your money work for you just haven’t been properly explained to you and, like me, you find personal finance quite intimidating.
Over the next 12 months, the upstanding editors of WellSpent, who drive new cars and own their own houses, will be taking me from finance Zero to finance Hero, and I will record the transformation here, like Clark Kent phoning you from his telephone booth and giving you the play-by-play as he changes out of his business suit and into his spandex.
My blog is chronological, so you can join in at the point where your personal finance knowledge gets fuzzy, or you can use the first few articles to brush up on your knowledge.
Or you can read them for the sole purpose of having a laugh at my ignorance.
I write in a relaxed style that I hope is amusing and easy to read, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I’m here to let you know that if personal finance mystifies you, worries you, or scares you, you are not alone.