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Listen up, money, it’s my turn to talk

Listen up, money, it’s my turn to talk

All my life, at home and at work, I’ve listened to money talking.

"Time to say I’m worth it, and follow through. To make money decisions that benefit me. Time to not be intimidated by whatever tactic people deploy to keep their costs down."

All my life, at home and at work, I’ve listened to money talking. Now it’s time for money to keep quiet, and let me do the talking!

When I was growing up, money was never, ever talked about. As kids, we knew when the parents had money (Spur outing when dad earned some overtime money), and when we didn’t have money (peanut butter sandwiches for supper).

When my son and I talk about money, the child in me wants to go: That’s none of your business, you shouldn’t ask that.

But grown-up me is enormously proud of the confidence my parenting instilled in him to initiate conversations about money. And that I’m doing a better job of teaching him financial literacy.

I’m still fairly illiterate when it comes to finances, but I try to do for my son what I wish was done for me.

He knows about savings, interest, budgets and thinking real hard about spending money. He’s done so well, I sometimes loan money from him!

Yes I know, not exactly stellar parenting there, but I repay him and he has an interest rate that’s near loan shark level.

And just like a real Mashonisa, he reminds me when my loan is due and when the interest is about to increase.

One of the early lessons we taught him was that if he wanted something that was not a present, he’d have to save 50% of the cost and we would pay the other 50%.

Something that’s worked really well, as it takes him months to save. By the time he was ready to give us his share, the toy/game/item would no longer be the thing to have or the price would’ve dropped, or he had changed his mind about it.

I also try to help older family members with financial decisions as far as I can. People who lived from hand to mouth all their lives, and who are now retired.

My family could do their own version of “I Blew It”, the TV show that takes a look into the lives of people who received an unexpected windfall, and then blew it.

I suppose if you’ve been living on the breadline for most of your life and a lump sum of money is dumped in your lap, mistakes will be made.

I’ve tried to help as many of my aunts and uncles as I could. Sent them to financial people I trust. Set up fixed deposit accounts. Educated them about shares and investments.

One memorable interaction that always makes me smile, is of my aunt who was fortunate enough to acquire BEE shares in a big media company.

She had various service issues with the Pay-TV business owned by this company, and called me to take her to their HQ.

When I picked her up, she was dressed in her Sunday best and when she saw my raised eyebrow, she confidently declared that she was a shareholder and she can’t rock up at her company in casual clothes!

So far so good, right? I sound financially savvy and in total control of all my monetary affairs.

But what is that saying about a mechanic’s car always being in a state of disrepair? That’s me.

When it comes to my son and other loved ones, I’m winning at giving sound financial advice and helping them get the most out of their money and going for what they want.

Sadly, when it comes to me asking for what I want or deserve, the wheels come off. Spectacularly. I’ve had one successful salary negotiation in my 23 years of working, the rest was just a hot mess.

One manager I worked with entered the performance review period by wielding a months’ long campaign of sowing fear about retrenchments and talks of our industry not doing well.

So you went into your performance appraisal with retrenchments hanging over your head and didn’t dare “talk money or increases” until you received your increase letter.

By then it was too late to do anything about it, and the manager received a gold star for keeping costs down.

When I left that company out of sheer exhaustion of living in the shadow of retrenchments, I made the rookie error of sending my payslip to the companies who wanted to make me offers but “needed my payslip”.

I now know that this is not compulsory and actually bad form on their behalf, and have vowed to never do that again.

If you’re coming from a low base and have been intimidated into accepting low increases for years, you’re going to lose out even more when the new company asks for your payslip and rounds it up to the nearest 5 or 10, like most companies do.

In the past year, I’ve rejected companies who ask for payslips and have decided to get my haggle on.

Now, I’m not a good haggler, any one of the traders on the Grand Parade in Cape Town can tell you that. I see the price, I pay the price and they smile while taking this rookie’s money.

But that ends here and now in 2020. Thanks to the upside-down state the world is in right now, and all the time I’ve had to be alone with my thoughts (thanks, lockdown), I’ve decided to gift myself some of those financial gems I’ve been dishing out to my loved ones.

Time to say I’m worth it, and follow through. To make money decisions that benefit me. Time to not be intimidated by whatever tactic people deploy to keep their costs down.

Time to realise that people won’t just give you money because you work hard. You have to ask for it and motivate yourself to get what you want.

Oh, and it’s time for another income stream, so let me google how to become a successful financial adviser!

Rochelle Barrish

Change expert, Rochelle Barrish, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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