A CERTAIN healthy level of financial wellness and financial freedom is attainable, even if you're not a high income earner. This was the key message from Nigel Willmott, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional (CFP®
), who is the developer of the material, for the Financial Planning Institute's (FPI) newly launched MYMONEY123 financial education community outreach initiative. Willmott, who also owns a financial wellness company and has 22 years of experience in the industry, told the Weekend Witness that it all revolves around the financial choices you make, adding that this is based on understanding basic financial discipline.
According to the FPI, the initiative aims to create awareness around personal financial planning responsibilities and goals, with the acknowledgement that all South Africans are in need of independent personal financial planning education. Willmott said financial freedom and wellness is largely determined by one's approach to money matters. "Financial freedom is not about how much you earn. It's about how much you have left over at the end of the month. Everybody has financial challenges —even those who are well-off [financially]. Financial wellness is for everyone. I've worked with very wealthy people whose finances are in a mess. Often, if you pay people more, they will simply spend more. We need to teach South Africans basic financial discipline and teach them to manage their money."
The initiative focuses on personal financial management issues — primarily managing and implementing a successful personal budget, dealing with debt and understanding savings and investments. "It's about empowering them to ask the right questions." Willmott added that many of the FPI's large base of members would participate in the initiative, by reaching out to communities through pro bono work, as part of their ethical standards and code of conduct. "We will certainly have the manpower in the major centres."
Willmott acknowledged that the initiative is not without pitfalls. "Teaching people about money is an emotive subject. It's a connection and trust issue. It's about changing people's lives... and you've got to get in the trenches. You must spend time listening to them." Participants receive workbooks with financial wellness information, with practical exercises for their personal financial management. While Willmott said the FPI hopes to reach about 5 000 people by the end of this year, his ultimate target is to reach 50 000 people per year.
"What we are trying to achieve with this programme is equal basic financial literacy for all. South Africans are currently drowning in debt and as an independent institute, leading within the industry of financial planning, we pride ourselves in taking responsibility in ensuring that consumers are well-equipped with the knowledge to yield sound financial decisions," stated Godfrey Nti, FPI CEO.
Willmott's advice for people who want to tackle their personal finances starts with the dreaded 'B" word, their budget. He said one should begin by setting up a budget at the beginning of the financial month (at payday). "Be honest, especially about your expenses and debt. Monitor what you do during the month. At the end of the month, reconcile your budget. Identify where you've overspent and rectify this the next month."
The programme will be run at various corporates, local community churches, schools or even stokvels across major centres in South Africa, to educate consumers about financial planning and further empower them with financial education that they can use to take control of their personal financial situation. Organisations are welcome to contact the FPI about the MYMONEY123 initiative by calling 011 470 6000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .You can also visit the FPI website at www.fpi.co.za
for more information.