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COVID-19 has not done our struggling economy any favours!

By Mzukona Mantshontsho

I feel we need research initiatives to monitor savings habits and patterns at government, corporate and household levels as well as the commissioning of new research independently or through partnerships.

We need more information and content provision to assist in the education of all sectors and tiers of society.

I recently spoke to Sisandile Cikido, Head of Retail Investments at Nedbank, to get a sense of how we are doing in terms of saving, particularly for our young people.

What do we say to young people about saving?

You’ve got to start saving and budgeting now, no matter how little you have, get into the habit of saving at least 20% of what you get. I call it the “pay yourself first” principle, make sure you pay yourself by paying it forward, don’t just think about the now.

South Africans are known not to save, how bad is it?

It’s bad because previous research has indicated that South Africans have a poor savings culture. In 2019 the SARB (South African Reserve Bank) published the national household saving ratio which was -0.20%, this is the ratio of savings per household for the year.

Are you surprised that we are battling with savings as a nation?

Not really, we are seeing an increase in unemployment and COVID-19 has not done our struggling economy any favours. It’s not surprising that saving seems like a luxury we cannot afford. We are also a highly indebted country, we used 72.8% of our gross income to service debt, in 2019 alone.

Where do we start with children, how do we introduce the subject and how early in their lives?

It’s important to teach children about money. Not just the negative aspect of it but emphasize the “money doesn’t grow on trees” concept and the importance of respecting it. Having a budget is important, if you have R10 and have needs that amount to R15, you need to give up something in order to spend less than R10. Also, we must teach children to put something away for tomorrow, this will drive the right habits and create a psychology of saving.

Do you have any practical examples of savings options for young people? 

Read about how money works, budget, live within your means, there are no get rich quick schemes because saving and investing takes time and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Sisandile Cikido, Head of Retail Investments at Nedbank