By Anees Teladia
Many South Africans can relate to one common financial problem – there’s simply too much month with too little money. Students, young professionals and experienced workers all fall victim to the trap of spending too much too soon, at some point in their lives. A survey commissioned by TymeBank has found that while a positive figure of 43% of people are able to save some portion of their monthly income, most people run out of money before the end of the month.
The “More Month Than Money” survey was commissioned to get a deeper understanding of the challenging financial realities that South Africans face today. The report, released during National Savings Month, shines the spotlight on what we do with our money, the debt burden and how many of us are able to save. The survey has also highlighted some serious socioeconomic issues in South African society, such as the “black tax” and the gender pay gap.
Head of Sales and Service at TymeBank, Cheslyn Jacobs has said that while some of the statistics revealed in the survey were shocking, there are some positive indicators worth noting.
“The unfortunate reality in the country is that we still have some gender inequality which we need to address. A typical example in the corporate world is that women earn less money for doing the same work as men. Women therefore have less money but have the same amount of responsibility…so it becomes a lot harder to make ends meet in that way,” said Jacobs.
“The study shows that women are better at budgeting and making their money stretch. There are also many single-parent households – where most times it’s a female parent.”
However, the issue of the gender pay gap is an internationally disputed one. Some political and social commentators have criticised the way the subject is spoken of and referred to, saying that the media and most analysts are often guilty of failing to consider the psychological and social factors which contribute to such pay gaps.
“Then we have the ‘black tax’ where the younger generation has to look after extended family members in financial and other ways,” said Jacobs.
“Even though there are some shocking statistics in the study, there are also some positive things. The study is showing that 43% of South Africans are managing to save money – which is extremely encouraging.”
The top four categories of South African expenditure are housing, groceries, transport and education, according to Jacobs.
For those who are wishing to save but have no idea how and when to start, Jacobs had this to say:
“The real opportunity lies in what we do with the remainder of our money [after the typical monthly expenses, such as housing, groceries, transport and education]. The most important thing with saving is just to start the journey – start the journey soon and start it small. As soon as you get paid, put that money away – commit to the savings journey.”
Jacobs also said that those who are burdened with the “black tax” seems to be more financially resourceful and resilient.