• Shiree Coetzer

How to be your own heroine

To the ladies out there who are still waiting for their knight in shining armour to rescue them, to save them from their troubled times and to ride off into the sunset in a Ferrari: this article is for you.

“That knight is probably divorced with a few children and has money woes of his own, therefore there is only one way ladies, you have to do it for yourselves,” says Shiree Coetzer, Financial Planner at Alexander Forbes.

She adds, “Some ladies are fortunate to have a partner in the true sense of the word, you can then work together to ensure that you plan accordingly, but many ladies are on their own and need to ensure that you can take care of yourself and your children and can be proud of being able to do so.”

Based on Coetzer’s experience as a financial planner she emphasises that her concern is that females are often reliant on their partner to make the most of the financial decisions in the household. “Many females do not take the time to understand the long term financial implications of the decisions made and are not aware of : Household savings or debt; bond balance; household expenses; savings held etc.

It takes just a little bit of time to ensure that you remain on track to understand the importance of your own financial planning.

Coetzee recommends that you ask yourself the following questions:

What type of marital contract did we enter into? (if applicable)

  • Did you get married in community of property or out of community of property (OCOP)? If OCOP: was it with or without the accrual system?

  • What does that mean?

If you plan to co-habit, what are the contractual options available to you to ensure that you are protected if you break up?

  • Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘common-law wife’ in South Africa

Do you have any emergency savings?

  • Ideally 3 months’ worth of household expenses

  • Why? This means that you will not have to use your credit card or an overdraft if the car needs tyres or the washing machine is out of operation

Do you have a retirement fund?

  • Either through your employer in the form of a pension or provident fund or your own retirement annuity

  • How much are you saving into the fund on a monthly basis?

  • Is it enough?

How much is enough to retire on?

  • This is an article on its own, but a ‘rule of thumb’ is are you able to replace your income by at least 75% when you retire

Do you have discretionary savings?

  • These are additional savings other than emergency savings e.g. savings towards a new car, a nice holiday, education for your children etc.

Do you have a will?

  • Either your own will or a joint will

  • Where is it held?

  • Who is the Executor?

A will is always important, but especially so if you have dependent children

Do you have a financial planner looking after your financial wellbeing?

All of these questions can be answered by having a certified financial planner looking after your interests. At the very least, start by reading up on the items above and learning a bit about all of them over time. The more you understand, the better equipped you are to make informed decisions.

“So, should the proverbial knight arrive, you can have the choice of whose vehicle you are going to ride off in….or simply stay in your own,” concludes Coetzer.


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