Commodities, share portfolios, compound interest, hedge funds… the world of finance can be confusing and mysterious. ‘There was clearly a need for someone to breach the great divide between the man in the street and the often intimidating world of finance,’ says Anthea Gardner, local investment guru and a regular on the media circuit for all things money-related. ‘That’s why I wrote Make Your Money Work for You: Think Big, Start Small.’ The book promises to help you ‘sweat your assets’: making your hard-earned cash work for you – without needing a degree in finance.
Although her father worked in banking and finance (in fact, he was the first bank manager in SA who was not white), Anthea found that her own sister, as smart as she was, knew little about the simplest concepts that Anthea works with on a daily basis.
‘Well into my career, my family were watching me on TV one day, and after the interview, my sister sent me a message saying: “Oh, so that’s what you do for a living!”’ she says. Anthea knows her sister isn’t alone. ‘It’s a shame that countries like China can achieve personal savings rates in the high 20s and South Africa has a negative personal savings rate, continually living on credit or hand to mouth.’
It’s very empowering to have something saved for those key moments: when you hit on that big entrepreneurial idea, helping your child with the deposit on their first house or kicking off your retirement with a world cruise. ‘If we improved South Africa’s personal savings rate, even by a small percentage, it would make a huge difference to the way we live, and for future generations.’
Start with small steps
Anthea says we should think about where we want to be (being able to start a business perhaps or retire comfortably), then take little steps to get there. ‘The “start small” is a call to action to start somewhere – just start,’ she says. ‘You’re not going to become a millionaire if you’re investing only R100 a month, but saving and investing are habits that are easy to continue once you’ve started.’ Once you’ve developed the discipline you can start increasing your investment contributions as well as have fun with investing in the stock market.
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