My investment/saving journey started at the age of 9. I schooled 30KMs from where I lived, so I travelled by daily. To cover my bus fare and lunch (I no longer wanted my mum to pack me lunch) my parents decided to give me P10 [Approx. R13] as pocket money and that’s where my frugality began.
The decision to start saving was brought about by the excess money I would have left after spending on my bus fare. The bus home cost P3 and I would save the rest. I started by throwing my money into my socks and underwear drawer without anyone in the house knowing until, keeping account of my money became difficult with all the money scattered all over the drawer and sometimes slipping through the cracks and falling into my brother’s drawers. When I woke up to this realization, I shared my little “project” with my mum and she gave me a wallet and let me keep my money in her bedroom fearing that I’d continue experiencing leakages due to human factors as well as the ‘drawers’ factor. The wallet was a revelation as it allowed me to easily see how much money I had and how fast I was growing it. I would go to their room every day to deposit my savings and count what was in the bank, my wallet. Seeing my money grow daily was gratifying and pushed me to think of ways to make more. That’s when I took my saving journey seriously. I asked my mum to start packing me lunch again, so I could save more and stop buying pies, which my buddy Goitseone and I absolutely loved. I then proceeded to negotiate a deal with my parents. The deal was that at the end of each month they would give me P30, P20 from my dad and P10 from my mum. When my savings grew to P500 my mum opened an FNB Bob Saver’s account for me and I became the first amongst my friends to have a bank account. I would get excited every time we’d get a mail because I’d always think it’s my bank statement. I was always excited to see my money grow by 35 Thebe. Sometimes it didn’t look like it was growing… I’d ask my mum why and she’d say, “that’s how banks work.” I didn’t understand how interest worked back then.
My “project” began catching wind and my friend, and their parents, got interested and that lead to my friends saving too. After some time, basically once they had stepped into the baller’s league, we’d give each other an informal update on our stash. Because I was far ahead, they’d constantly ask what I would do with my money and I would never have an answer. Cellphones were a big thing at that time and I attempted several times to strike a 50/50 deal with my dad to get one, but he would always back out of it. I eventually got one in 2005, long after I had initially wanted one. There were many awkward situations I’d get into because of the saving mindset. One of them was when my boys and I went to town for a school’s fun day and when lunchtime came the boys decided we’d head out to Nando’s to grab a bite. We got there, and the boys ordered meals that would have wiped out my pocket money for the day, leaving me with nothing to save, so I went for a cheaper meal… backing out of the initial burgers plan we had. I had plenty of joyful moments too, though. Some of them were occasionally taking my friend, Frazer, to spur whenever he visited. Taking my friend, Kelly, to spur (which people termed a date – because everyone liked Kelly) is another example, and buying my very first soccer boots.
After migrating from Botswana at the age of 12, my savings journey ended for a short while, with P3000 in the bank. At that time my parents needed the money more than I did so I “loaned” it to them not knowing that the Ts and Cs of this would contain the line “we are you parents, we can’t pay you for raising you.” In my teens I only got pocket money that was just enough to cover my lifestyle, meaning I didn’t have any excess money to save (and with the pressures of being a teenager I could no longer go for the cheaper meal). My parents would always ask what I did with my money and I’d say I spent it on food and not mention the strip clubs and girls… Just kidding.
I began saving again in 2013 when I realized I’d have to fork out dowry (lobola) one day. I remember consulting my mum and my friend, Silo, about the best account there was in the business. I didn’t get clear cut answers from them, so I walked to the FNB branch on campus, ID in hand, deposited R200 and began saving for the one God would unite me with. With the varsity life hustling mentality, I worked a few jobs on campus and a few as a promoter and managed to build my saving account to R5000 in 2015. The jobs were periodic, so I couldn’t save as much as I would have liked.
Fast forward to 2018, after graduating and fortunately having a job, my dowry savings grew to a point where I managed to use the money as a deposit for my first car. I won’t mention the amount since the “the feds listening” (the famous lyric by my brother Lil Wayne). My saving journey has continued in leaps and bounds. I currently use EasyEquities as my broker to do my investment in stocks and basket portfolios like Satrix. I also use Allan Gray for my retirement annuity as well as my Equity driven balanced fund and I continue to have my dowry account and 2 other savings accounts. The three different accounts are split into short term, medium term and long-term accounts. I use the 22Seven app to consolidate all these accounts and calculate my net worth, which is currently sitting on a negative. Apart from saving I co-own a business with my best friend, Gift, called Gent. We invested about R3000 into it at the beginning and it has grown in terms of its offerings. But as business goes we don’t have a cent in the bank. The challenges are difficult but exciting and we hope that we continue growing.
The saving/investment journey isn’t an easy one but for me the excitement I used to get from having more money and seeing it grow as a kid has continued to grow with me and that motivates me to keep going. If I were to recommend a book to people that would love to get onto the bandwagon, it would be Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grown Up by Sam Beckbessinger, it is an amazing read.
I hope my story motivates you to start doing the same.