Zoë Brown: It’s important to be responsible with your finances as nothing is guaranteed in life

by - September 26, 2016

Zoë Brown is the current DIY-er on the Feel Good Breakfast Show – Expresso on SABC3, a radio presenter on KFM and a former Miss South Africa Teen finalist. After a gap year AU Pairing in America, Zoe returned home to study International Relations at Stellenbosch University. When she's not presenting, she loves exploring: the outdoors, new restaurants, coffee shops and the best hiking trail. In this interview, she talks to me about her money habits.

In this economic climate, have you downsized your lifestyle at all?

I’ve always lived a relatively modest lifestyle. I sometimes still feel like that student from 2 years ago.

Out of all your responsibilities (bills, groceries, etc) , what do you find to be the most expensive nowadays?

Rent is my biggest expense every month.

How do you save money when income from your kind of work is variable?

It’s very important to manage your expenses as your income amount is never consistent. The less accounts and debit orders, the better you are!

How did your childhood influence your attitude towards money?

My dad is a very wise man. I was in Grade 4 when I delivered our local neighbourhood weekly magazine, and earned about R95 a week. My dad challenged me to save by matching every R1 I deposited into my bank account. It later became a game and I bought my first cell phone with that! An Ericson T10 – I felt really cool by the time I was in Grade 5! Today, he does not match a penny, but I have a habit of paying myself first by hiding money into a 32-day account.

How do you deal with financial setbacks when they happen?

It’s a bitter pill to swallow when life throws you financial set-backs that’s beyond your control. I was in a car accident that was caused by another driver, although I had insurance, I still had to fork out my insurance excess that I was unable to claim back. The sooner you kiss that money goodbye, the quicker you can move on and not carry that loss with you.

Have there been times where you’ve experienced money blocks or conflicting feelings about money?

No I have not.

How do you define financial independence?

At this point in my life, financial independence means that I can look after myself. I gained my independence in phases. The transition from being a student to a working adult was smooth, as my parents helped me out with a portion of my rent. It wasn’t long after I started working that I was completely able to pay my own rent, progressed from there to now be on medical aid and finally in a position to be able to save. Today, I don’t receive a penny from my folks, and next on my list is to purchase my first piece of property.

Why do you think women should care and take an active role in managing their money?

The days where women stay home and men bring home the bacon is long gone. Most women are working and society has a large number of single mothers too. It’s important to be responsible with your finances as nothing is guaranteed in life, and you need to be able to look after yourself should anything happen.

Do you invest in shares? Why? Why not?

Not yet, it’s not yet a priority on my list, but I hope to do so soon!

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

I would like to buy a home first, before investing in shares.

When you think of a comfortable retirement, what does that mean to you?

When I retire, I want to continue to travel and explore. For me, being able to retire comfortably would include overseas trips throughout the year.

What’s the worst money mistake you’ve ever made, if you’ve made any?

I was an Au Pair in America and somehow ended up agreeing to a telemarketer’s call for a magazine subscription. I ended up receiving 6 different magazines a month and wasted a few hundred dollars on magazines I hardly had time to read. I was very upset with myself for not saying “no”, but they were very persuasive.

What did you learn from it?

I quickly learned to say no to those type of phone calls and also that I have a right to ask them to remove me from their list. They’re legally required to remove me from the list, and slowly but surely the calls became less and less.

What tools or resources do you rely on to keep your own personal finances in order?

My budget is my life saver! I hate carrying cash on me and prefer to swipe. I’ve made it a habit to go through my statements often, and I regularly calculate things that I am going to buy. I tweak expenses and gauge where and when it’s okay to have a little responsible fun with my finances.

What do you splurge on?

Lately I’ve been very good not to splurge, as I my next financial goal is property. But I’m dying to splurge my tax return money on an overseas trip!

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?

My shopping rule is: If you bought it and haven’t worn/used it in 2/3 days – take it back. I make sure I know each store’s return policies.

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

I’m very sensitive to lending money, that’s probably why I’m hardly ever asked! But when I do, (I don’t tell them this) but I don’t expect the money back – that way if they don’t pay me back I’m not hurt in any way. But then again, I hardly ever do it.

Do you and your women friends talk about money?

We do. Often we talk about how we save and where we can save throughout the month. Most of my friends are young working adults, we don’t have serious debt. And we look out for one another, send each other specials when we come across them!

Do you do your own home repairs? How easy or difficult is it? 

I try and do as much as I can. I have a love for DIY and at the same time it has saved me! I even know how to change the washers on my taps!

What's the best financial advice you've ever received?

I like to have an incentive or a goal to save towards. Hence my best advice has been to hide money from myself in an account where it is not convenient to withdraw from. That will ensure that my money remains untouched and can accumulate.

Follow Zoë on Twitter.

Pic credit: Michael Le Grange Photography

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