How Does Maya Manage Her Money?

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We chat to the popular financial columnist and author whose sound advice on saving and spending money can help turn your small change into a small fortune.

 

Imagine a world without money. For some among us, especially as the month draws towards its end, that probably doesn’t require too much imagination. But money, whether it’s in plentiful supply or in the throes of a drought, is the force that makes the world go round, which is why it is so vital to our everyday living as well as our long-term plans.

So imagine, instead, a world with enough money to satisfy your needs and make your dreams come true. Then start working towards it, using common sense, discipline, and the accumulative power of change.

This is where Maya Fisher-French comes in. With a solid background in trading and investment, Maya has become one of South Africa’s most trusted and easy-to-understand advisers, and her new book, Maya on Money, Implement Your Money Plan, is a common-sense guide to conquering your financial fears and making the most of your money.

We caught up with Maya and asked her what money means in her own world, and what she has learned from her own money mistakes.

 

Q: What is your earliest childhood memory of the meaning of money?
For me, growing up money felt like a power play in our home. I think for many families money continues to be about power. It is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about women remaining financially independent.

 

Q: Were you a good saver as a child, and if so, what was your most ambitious savings goal?
When I was 15 my father gave me a Bob-T card in which he had put six months’ worth of an “allowance”. It was the most liberating feeling ever! I went straight out and bought a jersey I really wanted, and then realised I had blown at least two months allowance on it. I then asked my parents to please give me my allowance in monthly instalments.

 

Q: What do you love most about change?
The opportunity it creates – when one door closes another always opens, and you suddenly realise this was all meant to be.

 

Q: What’s the best investment you ever made?
In monetary terms, it was buying our first home in 1997. Interest rates were at their all-time high, and we struggled to meet the mortgage payments. But then interest rates plummeted and property prices re-rated completely. Our property value quadrupled. After than I would say the R200 per month we put away for our son since he was two years old. It is over R100 000 today.

 

Q: Do you use any specific software or apps to do your own personal budget, and if so, what would you recommend, for desktop or mobile?
We use a Microsoft excel spreadsheet. My husband updates that each month. But we also use the M8 app when we want to track day-to-day spending.

 

Q: What is the biggest myth about money?
That your money problems will go away if you earned more. The reality is that when we earn more, we just spend more and have more debt.

 

Q: What is the most valuable piece of financial advice you ever received?
Working for a stock broking firm through two market crashes in 1998 and 2000 taught me not to be afraid of the markets. I don’t panic when markets fall, I know the power of investing in shares to grow wealth.

 

Q: If money was no object, what would you spend it on?
Travel, travel, travel!

 

Q: What advice would you give to young South Africans who dream of starting their own businesses?
Get informed, learn as much as you can especially about running a business. Many business fail because the owners don’t understand basic business principles.

 

Q: Why do you think South Africans, in general, are so bad at saving?
I think the easy availability of credit is a major problem. Rather than spending 10 months saving for a household item, we borrow the money and spend two years, and double the amount, paying it back. It leaves no money for saving.

 

Q: What was the single biggest and most daunting change you have ever made in your life?
Making the move from the financial industry into journalism. I had never been a journalist and had to learn on the ground. My editor once said, “I don’t know what this is, but it’s not journalism!” I must add that writing this book was probably the most daunting experience in my career!

 

Q: How much cash do you typically carry around with you for everyday purchases, or do you prefer using plastic?
Very little, I mostly use plastic. But when we were in financial difficulty we only used cash in envelopes for specific items.

 

Q: How good are you at bargaining, and what was your best bargain purchase, here or overseas?
I am the worst! I feel sorry for people. But I did buy a gorgeous, black dress at Chic-Mamas, a ‘barely used’ second hand clothes store, for R150, which I wear all the time.

 

Q: What would you say was your biggest financial mistake, the one that taught you most about the power of money?
Our second home. We sold our small, manageable home in Greenside for a huge fixer upper. It just gobbled money, especially running costs. Now we have a smaller home with very low running costs.

 

Q: What is the money question you get asked most often by readers?
How to get out of debt! Then mostly where they can start saving.

 

Q: What do you know now about money, that you wish you’d known 20 years ago?
Not to worry about money so much. There were times when I put my fear of not having money ahead of more important priorities.

 

Q: What is more valuable to you than money?
Most things, really. My family being happy – that is very valuable. Money in itself is not valuable, it is what you do with it.

 

Q: What does it take for you to change your mind?
I have key people in my life that I ask for advice. Their input could make me change my mind if I was set on something. We need others to reflect our situations back to us.

 

Q: Where do you go when you feel like a change of scenery?
If I have a lot of work to do and need a boost, I find moving office helps – to the local coffee shop usually where I also have my coffee and a biscuit.

*Maya Fisher-French is an award-winning financial journalist with a flair for cutting complex money matters to their core. Find out more on mayaonmoney.co.za. Maya on Money, Implement Your Money Plan, is published by NB Publishers.

** This article first appeared in The Comet, an online newsletter by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.

How Does Maya Manage Her Money?

How Does Maya Manage Her Money?We chat to the popular financial columnist and author whose sound advice on saving and spending money can help turn your small change into a small fortune

Imagine a world without money. For some among us, especially as the month draws towards its end, that probably doesn’t require too much imagination.
But money, whether it’s in plentiful supply or in the throes of a drought, is the force that makes the world go round, which is why it is so vital to our everyday living as well as our long-term plans.
So imagine, instead, a world with enough money to satisfy your needs and make your dreams come true. Then start working towards it, using common sense, discipline, and the accumulative power of change.
This is where Maya Fisher-French comes in. With a solid background in trading and investment, Maya has become one of South Africa’s most trusted and easy-to-understand advisors, and her new book, Maya on Money, Your Money Questions Answered, is a common-sense guide to conquering your financial fears and making the most of your money.
We caught up with Maya and asked her what money means in her own world, and what she has learned from her own money mistakes.

Q: What is your earliest childhood memory of the meaning of money?
For me growing up money felt like a power play in our home. I think for many families money continues to be about power. It is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about women remaining financially independent.
Q: Were you a good saver as a child, and if so, what was your most ambitious savings goal?
When I was 15 my father gave me a Bob-T card in which he had put six months’ worth of an “allowance”. It was the most liberating feeling ever!
I went straight out and bought a jersey I really wanted, and then realised I had blown at least two months allowance on it. I then asked my parents to please give me my allowance in monthly instalments.
Q: What do you love most about change?
The opportunity it creates – when one door closes another always opens, and you suddenly realise this was all meant to be.
Q: What’s the best investment you ever made?
In monetary terms it was buying our first home in 1997. Interest rates were at their all-time high, and we struggled to meet the mortgage payments. But then interest rates plummeted and property prices re-rated completely. Our property value quadrupled.
After than I would say the R200 per month we put away for our son since he was two years old. It is over R100,000 today.
Q: Do you use any specific software or apps to do your own personal budget, and if so, what would you recommend, for desktop or mobile?
We use a Microsoft excel spreadsheet. My husband updates that each month. But we also use the M8 app when we want to track day-to-day spending.
Q: What is the biggest myth about money?
That your money problems will go away if you earned more. The reality is that when we earn more, we just spend more and have more debt.
Q: What is the most valuable piece of financial advice you ever received?
Working for a stock broking firm through two market crashes in 1998 and 2000 taught me not to be afraid of the markets. I don’t panic when markets fall, I know the power of investing in shares to grow wealth.
Q: If money was no object, what would you spend it on?
Travel, travel, travel!
Q: What advice would you give to young South Africans who dream of starting their own businesses?
Get informed, learn as much as you can especially about running a business. Many business fail because the owners don’t understand basic business principles.
Q: Why do you think South Africans, in general, are so bad at saving?
I think the easy availability of credit is a major problem. Rather than spending 10 months saving for a household item, we borrow the money and spend two years, and double the amount, paying it back. It leaves no money for saving.
Q: What was the single biggest and most daunting change you have ever made in your life?
Making the move from the financial industry into journalism. I had never been a journalist and had to learn on the ground. My editor once said, “I don’t know what this is, but it’s not journalism”!
I must add that writing this book was probably the most daunting experience in my career!
Q: How much cash do you typically carry around with you for everyday purchases, or do you prefer using plastic?
Very little, I mostly use plastic. But when we were in financial difficulty we only used cash in envelopes for specific items.
Q: How good are you at bargaining, and what was your best bargain purchase, here or overseas?
I am the worst! I feel sorry for people. But I did buy a gorgeous, black dress at Chic-Mamas, a ‘barely used’ second hand clothes store, for R150, which I wear all the time,
Q: What would you say was your biggest financial mistake, the one that taught you most about the power of money?
Our second home. We sold our small, manageable home in Greenside for a huge fixer upper. It just gobbled money, especially running costs. Now we have a smaller home with very low running costs
Q: What is the money question you get asked most often by readers?
How to get out of debt! Then mostly where they can start saving.
Q: What do you know now about money, that you wish you’d known 20 years ago?
Not to worry about money so much. There were times when I put my fear of not having money ahead of more important priorities.
Q: What is more valuable to you than money?
Most things, really. My family being happy – that is very valuable. Money in itself is not valuable, it is what you do with it.
Q: What does it take for you to change your mind?
I have key people in my life that I ask for advice. Their input could make me change my mind if I was set on something. We need others to reflect our situations back to us.
Q: Where do you go when you feel like a change of scenery?
If I have a lot of work to do and need a boost, I find moving office helps – to the local coffee shop usually where I also have my coffee and a biscuit.
*Maya Fisher-French is an award-winning financial journalist with a flair for cutting complex money matters to their core. Find out more on  mayaonmoney.co.za. Maya on Money, Your Money Questions Answered, is published by NB Publishers.

Ringing in the Changes

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Meet Alan Knott-Craig Jr, BrightRock Change Agent and African Internet connectivity evangelist

Alan Knott-Craig Jr. Now there’s a name that rings a cell.

A Chartered Account by degree, Alan found his true calling in the perpetually restless world of mobile telecommunication, as co-founder or funder of 17 companies devoted to connecting people and communities.

Now the former CEO of Cellfind, iBurst, World of Avatar and Mxit has embarked on his biggest adventure yet: helping to bring free WiFi to millions of people across South Africa.

At the helm of a Non-Profit Organisation called Project Isizwe (Xhosa for Nation, Tribe, and People), Alan has a vision of Internet access as a basic human right, as ubiquitous and essential as water and electricity.

Already, the project has rolled out free WiFi in Stellenbosch and Tshwane, with plans to connect at least 3-million people by the end of next year.

At home in the beautiful dorp of Stellenbosch, with his wife and fellow Chartered Account Sibella, and their three young daughters, Tara, Juliet, and Sarah, Alan puts the principle of “Love Change” into everyday practise.

We caught up with him for a chat on how he copes with change in an ever-changing world.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself for the better, what would that be, and why?

A: I’d like bigger calves. Also, I’d like to be more patient and less judgmental. Otherwise, I’m pretty content with what fortune sent my way.

Q: What do you love most about change?

A: You never remember the days that were just like the day before. Change means memories, and memories are the sum total of life. No change means I won’t have much of a life to look back on.

Q: What would you say is the most radical change that parenthood has brought to your life?

A: It’s taught me patience. And of course, I’m far less selfish than I used to be.

Q: Where do you go when you feel like a change of scenery?

A: I like walking on the Sea Point promenade which is, in my opinion, one of the country’s most amazing public spaces.

Q: What’s your own personal formula for coping with change in your life?

A: Don’t panic. Be grateful for the good stuff. Keep moving.

Q: What do you think is the most exciting change that technology holds in store for us?

A: Bridging the digital divide. For me the true tragedies are when youngsters with smarts and ambition can’t escape their circumstance, for no reason other than they can’t get on the Internet to find a job or learn a new skill. The democratisation of the Web will make the world a fairer place.

Q: How do you think Africa can change the world?

A: As the continent gears up its communications, transport and financial networks, it will be able to take advantage of the latest technology and it can leapfrog the legacy systems of the West.

Q: What advice can you give to new fathers about the art of changing a nappy?

A: Suck it up.

Q: How much change do you have in your pocket right now?

A: R3,14.

Q: What does it take for you to change your mind?

A: It depends. My core values will never change. But when it comes to superficial matters like “What is the best wireless network technology?”, then I follow wisdom of John Maynard Keynes. When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?

This article first appeared in The Comet, an online newsletter by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes.

 

 

Deep Thoughts

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Deep Fried Man, one of the stars of the BrightRock Laugh Change comedy special, ponders the meaning of change.

It’s hard to miss Deep Fried Man on the South African standup comedy circuit. For one thing, there’s that hat. For another, that beard. And then, that guitar. And that bow tie. And that name.

But the really outstanding thing about Deep, aside from his nose – a frequent subject of his comedy – is his comedy, which is wry, sharp, topical, and sung as well as spoken.

All of which makes him a bright star on the bill of the BrightRock comedy show, Laugh Change, which debuted at Montecasino in November. We caught up with Deep, and asked him a few Very Important Questions about change.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself for the better, what would that be, and why?

A: It would be hard to choose between a) washboard abs b) a straighter nose c) richer or d) less indecisive.

Q: How much change do you have in your pocket right now? 

A: I am typing this in my boxer shorts which, disappointingly, have no pockets.

Q: What do you love most about change? 

A: I love the cool feel of it against my skin and the way it placates car guards.

Q: What would you change most about love? 

A: Nothing. It was without a doubt the best work Cirque Du Soleil ever produced.

Q: How often do you change your socks?

A: Daily. Even if I didn’t change my socks daily, I would lie in my answer and say I change my socks daily.

Q: What would you rather have — a change of heart, or a change of mind?

A: I was going to say a change of heart but then I had a change of mind and decided to go with a change of mind but then I had a change of heart and changed my answer to a change of heart and then the cyclical nature of this answer caused it to carry on for all eternity…

Q: Have you ever changed your name, or has it always been Deep Fried Man?

A: Before arriving at Deep Fried Man I went through various culinary stages. I have been known variously as Slow Roasted Man, the more healthconscious Lightly Steamed Man and, during a particularly pretentious phase, Pan Seared Man with A White Whine Reduction.

Q: Do you think one man with a guitar can change the world?

A: Possibly, provided that the one man isn’t me. I find it hard enough finding the energy to change my socks daily.

Q: Where do you go when you feel like a change of scenery? 

A: I spend most of my day on Twitter, so when I need a change of scenery I spend some time on Facebook or, if I need somewhere more exotic to escape to, Pinterest. When I want some time alone I visit Google Plus.

Q: How many lightbulbs does it take to change a standup comedian?

A: To get to the other side.

This article first appeared in The Comet, an online newsletter by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes.