The first bank account I opened for myself was when I was 18, when I received my first check for my very first gig in musical theatre. The account I had before was in my name, but it was one my parents had opened for me as a child. This, however, was my first, very own bank account that I opened by my grown up self. I felt very adult, and I was proud of myself for nailing this responsibility thing.
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For the longest time, the account served as a check depository. I didn’t really see it as a tool to save and grow a little nest egg. It was also very rare for me to make actual cash deposits because as an artist, most of my gigs would either pay by check or direct transfer. But, as my income started to grow, I found that I had money sitting in the bank, doing absolutely nothing. This however, gave me a measure of security, as I would become less and less nervous about taking care of my bills and obligations. I then started to equate the amount in the account with what responsibilities I was able to take care of. For instance, I would say “I currently have enough to take care of 6 months’ rent, utilities and groceries, get that new laptop that I need, as well as two replacement tires and one car servicing.” Am I the only one that does this?
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This security was especially important because, as a musician and actress, there can be periods where there is no work and therefore no money. A steady paycheck is rare so making sure my obligations are taken care of became a huge priority. I actually pay my rent every three months and that helps me feel secure knowing that I have a place to live for three months, regardless of what happens. Being late for payments is also the stuff of nightmares. I have never cultivated a savings habit though because, for me, money equates to meeting responsibilities. For some reason or another, I hadn’t figured out that I could put a little bit away that could grow, or be invested in something that could expand or that would appreciate in value.
To date, if I want to purchase something significant, a TV, a car, even a holiday, I will only do it if I have enough money to pay for it all at once. I was lucky enough to be able to pay for my car in cash, and even though I have since hit hard times once or twice, it hasn’t been to a point where I felt I had to sell any of my stuff. If anything, I said I could live in my car if necessary. Rather than put money away over a period of time as I save up for something, that particular item will only come to mind if I realise I have enough money to get it, without worrying about the dent it will make on my account. That’s not to say that I’m rolling around in millions, and this can be detrimental to my savings habit. For example, I don’t believe I can be a homeowner unless I can raise the full amount I need to own a home. That’s not savvy because I could very well save up to put down a deposit for a house and then pay for it every month, just as I pay rent.
Mortgages and car loans make me very uncomfortable as I do worry that if something happens and I can’t make the payments, I may lose everything, including the money I’d been putting into it. I would really like to get to a place where, rather than just have money sitting in my account waiting to be spent, I can find a great resource to help me save, not just to make payments and purchases but also to grow my wealth in a smart way.
I was talking to a friend of mine who is completely different. She owns an apartment, but is horrible at saving. She will make sure her mortgage is serviced, but she is very prone to impulse shopping. If she does make a significant amount of money from a job, (she’s a creative like me and doesn’t have a 9-5 with a steady paycheck) she may put some money aside to purchase land, and then spend the rest on stuff she probably hadn’t budgeted for. I was joking with her about it because her attitude towards money is always, “I’ll just make more”.
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I have decided to take up a savings challenge, where I can put money aside every month that will go into a fund, which can hopefully grow to become a diverse investment portfolio. I also think I need to alter my relationship with money so that it’s not just something I use to pay bills and stay out of debt, but something that can work for me and create the luxurious lifestyle that I desire. I want to enjoy spending money and to use it to financially liberate my family and have my parents breathe easy. I want to build my folks a house and also have them retire soon and enjoy their lives after taking care of my brothers and I so well.
This article is the first in a series of sponsored posts for the Barclays Savings Challenge. Follow the discussion on Twitter and Facebook and share your own experience by using #AfricaSaves.