A three-step plan to making black tax manageable
16 Aug, 2023

Published author Ndumi Hadebe weighs in on the importance of clear communication and setting healthy boundaries

 

Conversations around black tax– the obligation placed on those who achieve a degree of financial success to provide for their extended families and communities – need to be centred around families rather than individuals. Frank conversations that involve clearly communicated boundaries are imperative to dealing with the emotional aspects of money management. In South Africa, where black tax is prevalent, these discussions are pivotal in navigating the way forward and bringing healing to financial situations. And while it may be easy to put a label on ‘black tax’, the reality is that this applies to any situation where there are expectations to support members of an extended family.

 

This is the opinion of Ndumi Hadebe, published author and self-leadership coach who headlined the latest episode of Think Big – a webinar series purposed towards engaging prominent thought leaders on some of the country’s most pressing issues. The series is hosted and made freely available by PSG and is facilitated by award-winning journalist, Alishia Seckam.

 

Hadebe is the author of Handle Black Tax Like a Pro – Setting Boundaries, Improving Relationships and Achieving Freedom, a book about how to strike a healthy balance between providing assistance to family members while planning ahead to reach your financial goals. In this most recent installation of Think Big, Hadebe outlined some of the steps one needs to take to make black tax manageable.

 

The first pitfall, in Hadebe’s opinion, is that black tax is the ‘elephant in the room’ that families do not want to discuss. “What we do instead is complain about it on social media and become keyboard warriors. We talk about it at dinners with our friends and our colleagues, but we do not afford our families the right of reply. I feel that this is the biggest shortfall we are making,” she says.

 

Step one: Acknowledgement and accountability

 

Remedying this must begin with the honest acknowledgement that the issue needs to be addressed and as the party providing the financial assistance, to take responsibility for your part in creating the problem. The next step is to call a family meeting and engage with family members in a way that is not accusatory but that takes accountability. This may mean admitting to having made irresponsible decisions, getting into debt or not building up enough savings to continue to support the needs of the family.

 

These open conversations allow for a degree of transparency where the reality of one’s financial situation can be brought to light. Transparency, as Hadebe points out, is often the key to healing past emotional wounds and settling disagreements – a way of cleaning the slate and creating a platform for honest, clear communication.

 

Step two: Setting clearly communicated boundaries

 

The next step in becoming accountable to oneself and to one’s family is to communicate how finances will be allocated going forward. This may entail communicating how one’s finances will be used to pay off debt, build up an emergency savings fund and meet one’s own financial obligations. The key in laying these boundaries down firmly lies in being assertive, or as Hadebe puts it, “not asking for permission, because when you ask for permission, you disempower yourself.”

 

Step three: Committing to a financial plan

 

Once this step has been taken, families can work collectively towards better financial planning. And while this process will look different from case to case, a few basic principles apply. One of these principles is finding ways to minimise expenses – an onus that does not only fall on the shoulders of the person providing financial assistance but on each individual family member.

 

Hadebe advocates taking a close look at one’s lifestyle and the choices we make around spending money. Solutions needs to be practical to really have the desired impact. Perhaps it means spending money less frivolously when it comes to gifts. “Instead of buying gifts that essentially disappear after the person’s birthday, maybe we should gift each other investments, like memberships or subscriptions to activities that involve healthier living, exercise or ongoing learning,” she suggests.

 

In the tough economic times in which many South African find themselves, we need to be taking a hard look at the luxuries we can’t afford. “Our goals – the things we say we want both now and in the future, often don’t match our behaviour,” says Hadebe. Better financial planning towards a specific set of measurable goals will allow families to work together in a way that is intentional and deliberate. In doing so, families can avoid everyday stresses and unexpected events from derailing their financial plans and placing certain individuals under undue strain.

 

As Hadebe concludes: “We need to be strategic and deliberate about managing our money. And to do this, we need to commit to delayed gratification. It is a process, but it is indeed possible.”

 

 

ENDS

 

Author

@Ndumi Hadebe
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