These things can rob you of your financial peace of mind

Financial peace of mind

Numerous studies have demonstrated a cyclical link between financial worries and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse – with higher rates of mental health issues appearing in those who are heavily indebted. In this article, we explore a number of factors that can cause sleepless nights when it comes to money and finances:

Debt

Debt is probably the single greatest stressor when it comes to financial planning and, unfortunately, very few South Africans are immune to torments of debt, especially in an inflationary environment. Over the past two years, the country’s benchmark prime lending rate has been raised consistently to almost 12%, being the highest level in 14 years. As interest rates continue to rise, it is estimated that South Africans are using 65% of their net income to service debt. Sadly, debt is an easy place to slip into but a difficult place to escape from and navigating the world of debt consolidation can be stressful. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt, be intentional about putting a debt reduction plan in place and seek professional advice if necessary.

An outdated Will

If you haven’t reviewed your Will in a while, you may be second-guessing the contents thereof or wondering whether it reflects your current wishes. Personal circumstances change more frequently than we tend to realise – births, deaths, adoptions, divorces, property purchases or disposals, marriages and so forth – and if you haven’t revised your Will regularly, the wishes expressed therein could result in your assets been distributed inappropriately. In particular, divorce is one of those life events that most certainly warrants a re-draft of your Will and, in fact, is dealt with in Section 2B of the Wills Act 1953. Essentially, those who have recently got divorced are provided a grace period of three months from the date of divorce in which to amend their Will. This means that if you die within three months of your divorce without amending your Will, your estate will be distributed as if your ex-spouse had died before the date of divorce. However, if you have failed to amend your Will three months post-divorce, it will be assumed that you intended for your ex-spouse to inherit from your estate.

Not knowing how much your need for retirement

Burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best is not a retirement funding strategy. If you’ve never had a retirement plan prepared and you don’t know whether you are putting away enough for retirement, this will undoubtedly be a source of stress for you. According to a recent 10X Retirement Reality Report, 67% of economically active South Africans have no retirement plan. 72% of those who have a plan are concerned that they will not have enough to live on in retirement, while 30% of South Africans have no retirement plan at all. Do not wait until you’re near retirement before seeking advice. The earlier you get retirement funding advice, the longer you have to rectify and adjust your funding strategy. 

Not knowing if your parents are underfunded for their retirement

Most members of the ‘silent generation’ avoid openly discussing their finances which can be a source of huge frustration for their adult children – especially when it comes to their own financial planning. Not knowing whether your aged parents are sufficiently funded for retirement can be a huge source of anxiety especially when you are trying to save for your own retirement, fund for your children’s education, and pay off debt. Ideally, seek an experienced financial planning practice that deals with multi-generational wealth planning, and start opening the channels of communication with your aged parents.

Not knowing where your money is going

As trite as this may sound, not knowing where your money is going each month can be a huge source of anxiety. Too many bank account, retails accounts, debit orders and budgetary expense items can leave you feeling out of control when it comes to personal financial management. The best way to circumvent the chaos is to begin simplifying your financial life starting with your bank accounts. If possible, use one banking platform on which to set up your various bank accounts. Ideally, get rid of your retail accounts and, if you need to access credit, use only your credit card. Go through your debit orders to ensure that they run at the most appropriate time of the month so that you don’t have to move money between accounts unnecessarily. Finally, consider using an app that centralises your financial affairs in one place so that you can get a single view of your circumstances and make informed decisions.

Not have access to cash

Not having access to cash can cost you money in the long-term, hence the importance of having an emergency stash in place. For instance, many schools and tertiary colleges offer sizeable discounts if you pay annually upfront. Without access to cash, these discounts will be out of your reach causing you to miss out on the saving. Further, without access to cash, you may need to take out expensive debt in order to pay for emergency expenses. Living from hand to mouth each month without building reserves can leave you in a precarious financial position should any unforeseeable expense arise, so make a concerted effort to create some form of slush fund as a backstop.

Not being adequately insured

Not being adequately insured, specifically if you’re the sole or main breadwinner, is another big source of stress. According to ASISA’s most recent Life and Disability Insurance Gap Study, millions of South Africans – specifically those under the age of 40 – are under-insured in respect of life and disability cover. According to them, industry figures reveal that more than two-thirds of all salary earners will experience at least one disability – either temporary or permanent that will prevent them from earning an income. It appears that under-insurance is a result of a combination of factors, one of which is that people don’t fully understand their risks, specifically when it comes to disability. Further, many consumers don’t understand the different types of long-term insurance products and how they pay out. Ideally, find an independent financial adviser who can help you prioritise your insurance needs and do market research on the most appropriate and cost-effective products for your circumstances.

Not having adequate healthcare cover

Date from Statistics SA shows that the huge majority of South Africans are living without medical aid. In fact, only 8.9  million people enjoying private healthcare cover,  with the majority of these people situated in the Western Cape and Gauteng. In the absence of medical aid, very few people can afford to access private healthcare – specifically hospitals – and will be forced to rely on public healthcare facilities, most of which are buckling under pressure. There’s no doubt that medical aid is expensive, but it can provide enormous peace of mind. Lower income workers can access an entry level medical aid plan for around R1 300 per month, with lower premiums for child dependants. Find an independent healthcare adviser that can help you identify an affordable medical aid plan that provides private hospital care as a minimum.

Have a wonderful day.

Sue

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