Coming to the end of Savings Month, promoted by FNB, I was surprised by how much I’ve learned. Not particularly concerning savings tips or informative facts, but regarding the people – the potential investors.

In general I found them to be particularly skeptical – not just about investing, but about the industry as a whole. Regardless the topic of the article, the comments is flooded with excuses on why they are not investing. If it is not the Tax Man’s fault, it’s the petrol price or inflation.

This concerned me, for South Africans aren’t uninformed, especially not after the promotion of Savings Month. Furthermore social media is crowded with advertisements and articles on better ways to invest; we have brilliant local economists and exciting blogs published by the youth. But still South Africans choose to read selectively and see only the negative posts of the gold price falling, interest rates rising etc…

Another point that raised concern was the number of people who are only aware of investing at the bank – which offers lower interest rates than our current inflation. Now this they are well aware of, and is yet another excuse why they don’t invest. Further they believe to invest properly you have to have a lot of money. Compound interest is a magical thing, no matter how small you start off.

The point that concerned me the most was the comments on if South Africans were to spend less and invest it will slow down the economy. They state that everyone should spend their extra cash on hand so that GDP can rise and the economy can grow. I’d rather not start explaining how frightening this statement is.

The bottom line is that we as South Africans have terrible investing habits. We are more concerned with the status quo and trying to keep up with the Jones’s – and the banks don’t make it difficult for us either. The government isn’t at all innocent here, if you consider something basic such as the lack of public transportation for instance, not to mention SARS’s slice of each pie on our dessert table.

But in the end, it is the potential investor’s own responsibility to start creating better saving habits and clear up any common myths surrounding investment. It is time to look past all the excuses; it is really getting tiresome. If we don’t pull ourselves together this bad habit will move along to the next generation of investors and the sandwich generation will be followed by the dagwood generation.

So, do a bit of research or seek financial advice and get your financial plan on track. The longer you wait the harder it will be, but don’t let starting off small keep you from investing either. We see it as a burden whilst it plays a critical role in our financial wellness.

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