Money & Me: 'I am a 27 year old Chartered Accountant from South Africa and the very first time I started saving was at 13'

  • Hi, I am Siphokazi Kubheka a Chartered Accountant from South Africa.
  • I’m a young professional who just turned 27 and is still trying to “make it” in the world!
  • I’ve had full-time employment since I was 19 and that has helped me come a long way with my relationship with money. I started my CA journey in 2012 and qualified in 2019!

Why did you pursue Chartered Accountancy?

I was born and bred in the East Rand and grew up like any other middle class South African child.

I did my schooling in a Public School and believe that not getting an opportunity to attend a private school or not being born into a wealthy family has never had any negative consequences on my life or how I turned out!

In 2006 when I in grade 7, I came across a newspaper article of two young black female Chartered Accountants (unfortunately I can't remember their names) who were speaking about the scarcity of black female CAs in South Africa.

I didn't know what a Chartered Accountant was or did, but I liked the article and what those two women stood for and what they wanted to achieve. And that's how I decided on my career path of becoming a Chartered Accountant.

Surrounding yourself with positive influences and having a good work ethic can lead to you having a fulfilled and successful career.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

My mother always taught us to save from a very young age. My older brother had a piggy bank where he would save up coins and that was my very first understanding of how money can be saved.

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How much did you earn in your first job?

R5000 which was bout $300.

How did you finance your studies?

I financed my studies by working a full-time job which offered me a bursary (financial assistance). So they would pay my fees at the beginning of the semester then deduct the fees from my salary each month until they had recouped the total fee amount. Once the exam results were out, I got reimbursed for all the modules that I passed.

For my Honours, my mother had agreed to pay for my fees and I cashed in my pension fund.

How old were you when you started investing/saving?

The very first time I started saving was at 13 when I earned my first allowance. I was in grade 7 and as a school assignment, we were tasked with running a business for a day. This day was called Entrepreneurs Day. Part of the assignment was to come up with a business plan, prepare a SWOT analysis of the plan and do market research to anticipate how well the business would do on the day as well as how we were going to fund the business.

My parents hardly gave me money so I convinced my mother that I would cook every day in exchange for a monthly allowance to save up for Entrepreneurs Day. That was my first experience of saving money.

Was that your greatest financial challenge/mistake? Is there anything you regret spending on?

When I first started working, I was19 and thought that I was earning a lot of money! This led me to over-indulge myself as I took out a cellphone contract and also over-committed to contributing R3000 month to a stokvel for 10 months of the year, this was more than half of my salary. (A stokvel is a type of informal South African savings group.)

Although I did overcommit myself by joining the stokvel, it helped me save money to by an old car and also taught me how to make the little money I was left with work for me. So it was not that bad!

One purchase that I do regret spending money on was an ‘expensive wig’ that I had no business buying...I hardly ever wear a wig!

Are you a saver or a spender? And tell us why?

I am a big saver. But I also save for days when I plan on spending big like when I’m on vacation!

Do you have a financial plan for the future? What is it?

I have been saving towards paying a big deposit on my first property. I have not reached my goal yet but I am nearly there.

I think I will achieve this dream by the end of the year or early next year!

Do you prefer paying by credit card or cash/debit card?

I use a cheque card which is a debit card and not a credit card!

Credit cards in South Africa are expensive as you pay interest on the debt so if you have a credit card, only use it in emergencies and set the limit as low as possible. It’s easy to fall into the credit card trap as the credit limit can be much higher than your monthly income and you end up spending a long time repaying the credit card debt?

I prefer online shopping over shopping at the mall which makes it easier to only buy what I’m looking for.

If I spot something online which I don’t need as yet, I put it on my wishlist and check out when it goes on sale or when I’ve decided that I’m able to buy it. As many times with everything at a click of a finger many end up buying luxury stuff they don’t need and of course and then regret!

Since you’re a finance professional how do you manage your own finances?

I work on a strict budget. There are deviations from the budget every now and then but I try my best not to break the bank. My advice to others would be to physically write down a budget or even use your phone's notebook to plan your budget. Treat your savings like an expense, that way you won’t be tempted to dip into your savings.

Do I have separate accounts for separate financial goals? I have separate savings accounts for emergencies/short term goals and long term goals.

I have two retirement annuity savings accounts for my retirement. One with my employer and one that I personally opened.

Now It's Your Turn...

When was the first time you started saving? Comment and let us know.

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