Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng: Regardless of how much you have to spare, one just has to start saving.

by - August 08, 2016

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng is a Joburg based healthcare practitioner and a champion of sexual health and reproductive justice. She is a resident doctor on Kaya FM with Mapaseka Mokwele on regular sex education and health related issue. She recently joined The Cure as a presenter for the 5th season of the medical magazine series on Al Jazeera.  She also serves as vice-chairperson of the Sexual & Reproductive Justice Coalition.  In this interview, she talks about her money management

Are you feeling the impact of the rand? How?

The impact is definitely felt hard.  The petrol price is about to increase yet again, it takes almost twice as much if not more to fill a trolley of groceries and of course home loan repayments have gone up drastically. It has been a rough year and it does not look like it's about to ease up anytime soon.

How did your childhood influence your attitude towards money?

I grew up with a mother and father who were in business together and I spent many days assisting in the supermarket in order to earn extra pocket money. I was working the cash register from age 8 with supervision, and I had a great time doing cash up.  I remember stock-taking evenings were best because we would have a braai afterwards.  I think because I was exposed to the cycle of money, as a consumer/spender, but also having insight into costs, wages and profits.  I was so interested in how much I am being charged for goods/service to a point where I would try where possible make friends with suppliers.  I don't think I am stingy but I am very aware of luxury spending when I want to splurge versus saving money by going to the source  or saving if at all possible. 
I buy from the local markets and support the small corner cafes because I know the money goes into children's school fees, food, household spend and for many shop owners it is about survival.   For example, I drive to Soweto to buy veggies from the late night veggie market and do the same for organic meat, etc.

Are you good with money or irresponsible?

I am an emotional spender and eater. I am not irresponsible but I do sometimes spend the little bit left over at the end of the month. I could save it but often than not I spend it. 

Do you and your husband share equal responsibility when it comes to your household finances?

We share equal responsibility, in theory.  However with the pressures of work, hectic schedules, out of town work, etc, one always goes above and beyond. However we both actually like each other and do not mind carrying the load while one of us recovers and is able to share household work, child rearing and of course finances too.  Life has ups and downs and we always have each other's backs.

What are you doing to ensure your family's financial well being?

Planning and saving for future big events like retirement, education for children, emergency funds and long-term investments.  Regardless of how much you have to spare, one just has to start saving.

How do you define financial independence?

Wow, I would say having money from a reliable income and also autonomy on how that money is spent, or not.  This could be on an individual level but also as a household/couple it is important to have independence.

Do you worry about the cost of children's education?

I worry about it all the time. When I look at the school fees of the schools I went to, I really worry.  I actually am so grateful that my mother was able to work and provide for her kids with the best she could. It's for this reason why I have to plan and save because I cannot give my child less than what I got.  The next generation has to be better, have better opportunities and fight less battles than what we had to get here.

If you have the choice between buying a home or investing in shares, which would you choose and why? 

I have done both within my budget constraints.  I decided to buy a smaller home than what I wanted and started with medium term investments, parts thereof are shares.  In the future I will be looking more into higher risk investments and diversify portfolio to meet long-term needs.

What's been your best and your worst decision about money?

Best - close credit cards, refuse ongoing offers for loans for no reason.
Worst - during my internship I used to spend more than I needed.  I think I bought more bags and shoes than I ever needed.

What’s your biggest personal indulgence? 

Shoes and bags, and spa treatments.  I am a firm believer in the idea of self-care and most of my indulgences are for self-love.  I do a lot of work with patients who require post trauma assistance and some with  relationship issues and it is important for me to debrief so I am energised and able to do my work well.  Self-care is also good for longevity as an activist for sexual health and reproductive justice, the work is much and ongoing.

What are your rules for lending money to friends or family?

Depends on the amount and the intended use.  I do not keep tabs with my close family and friends in the inner circle.  I know that if I needed their help they'd be there for me in the same way I would for them too.  I generally do not engage in excessive lending as I have seen how money can ruin friendships.  If at all possible, we help each other and exchange in kindness.

Please share your financial tips?
  • Pay yourself first (even if you are employed, all that you are able to do would not be possible without you.  Pay yourself for the work you do). 
  • Draw up a Budget and even if you deviate you at least have something to work with, to fall back on.  
  • Check your bank statements and watch out for fraudulent/un-authorised debit orders. 
  • Review the growth of your financial portfolios and continuously check if you require to change, add or improve your plans.
You can follow Dr Tlaleng on Twitter.

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