Katleho Tsoku: I have learned to stop comparing myself with people around me

Before becoming the CEO of  Spark* South Africa, Katleho Tsoku watched her first restaurant business fail. But she rebounded and used her experience to help other entrepreneurs succeed. Spark* South Africa is part of the wider Spark* International Group company that supports early-stage entrepreneurs. Katleho launched SHE by Spark*, an accelerator focusing on women-led ventures that positively impact the lives of women and children in South Africa. In this interview she talks about her money habits. 

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

Yes, I have. One of my splurges is exploring new restaurants. I have had to limit this, so as to live within my means.

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

Groceries! It’s actually quite concerning how expensive food has become. I am also gluten and lactose intolerant, which makes it worse because food items that I can eat are quite costly. When the average person is budgeting R20 a litre of milk, I need R42 for a litre of almond milk. I am always shocked at how costly a small basket of groceries is.

How do you remain positive about money in tough times?

Knowing that I am not the only one gives me comfort. When you speak to friends and family and realise how much everyone is in a similar boat, it does give comfort. I also believe that money is energy. The more you fear being without it, the more you will attract the lack of it. Whether that is true or not, I am not sure. I guess, I have just conditioned by brain to believe in the abundance of the universe :-)

How did your childhood influence your attitude towards money?

From a young age, my mom always said to me, if you can’t afford it, don’t get it. I always heard her preach about not taking anything on credit or have accounts with shops. So ever since then, I have never owned a credit card nor had an account with stores. If there is something I really want, and don’t have the money for it, I either convince myself that I am not meant to have it, or I sacrifice something in order to afford it.

How do you define financial independence?

Having the freedom to do with what you want with your money. Knowing that it is your sweat that earned you the money, therefore you owe no one an explanation of how you are spending it!

What is your number one financial priority right now?

To get to a point where I am financially independent. The entrepreneurial path is fulfilling and an important part of my growth, however it can be a burden on one’s financial goals.

Do you sometimes have money blocks and how do you deal with them?

I have learned to stop comparing myself with people around me and to get it out of my head, that at a certain age one needs to have achieved X,Y,Z. That is unrealistic because we take different paths as people, and thus cannot expect to achieve the same results. 

Have you ever been broke and how did you did deal with that period of your life?

Iyhooo! Yes! When I closed down my restaurant, I had no income for close to two years. For someone as independent as I am, it was beyond frustrating to have to rely on my mother. I pretty much had no life because I could not afford to go anywhere or do anything. That period forced me to deeply introspect, learn more about myself,  and be creative on how to get myself out of that financial funk I was in. I was extremely depressed and had poor self-esteem. I literally had to wait it out.

Why do you think we so easily fall into debt these days?

We are impatient! We want, what we want NOW, even if it means living beyond our means

Why is it important for women today to take care of their financial well-being?

It brings about freedom to live your life on your terms. It puts you in a position where you don’t have to settle for anything that goes against your beliefs and values.

Do you have a retirement cover? Why?

Yes. I want a comfortable life when I can no longer “actively participate” in the work force. I value my independence, I do not want to be relying on anyone.

What’s the worst money mistake you’ve ever made, if you’ve made any? What did you learn from it?

I am careful with my money, so no big mistakes. I was once tempted to sign-up for these so called “Stock Market Colleges”, but thanks to the reviews on Hello Peter, I quickly learned that there is no such thing as easy quick money! Anything that seems to good to be true, IS! I wish people were sufficiently warned about these things. 

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?

Nothing! I am not an impulsive buyer. There is a lot of thought that goes into my purchases.
Maybe DATA, it never lasts :-(

Do you have a budget? Why? Why not?

Yes!! I am all about living within my means, it helps me be realistic about my life.

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

Good old Microsoft Excel! I create my budget there monthly and record every expense and income there. I have recently acquired the services of a financial advisor to help me better manage my money and work on creating wealth!

Do you have rules for lending money to friends or family?

I don’t! If we value our relationship, it is best we don’t.

Do you have a philosophy for building wealth?

I know it’s not going to come over-night! I am naturally very impatient, but I am learning that my impatience needs to take a back seat when it comes to creating wealth. Also, it is almost impossible to create wealth from one source. So I am trying to figure different ways to go about doing it. 

What lessons have you learned about money that you can share with the readers?

If you are not knowledgeable about investment and saving options, seek help! There are experts to guide you. Creating a budget and sticking to it is important. There are apps and tools to assist.
Money comes and goes!

Photo Credit: MBLife

You can follow Katleho on Twitter