PROPERTY NEWS - The national lockdown has put financial pressure on many South African households during 2020 and has highlighted the importance of careful financial planning.
Though there is no simple solution for creating financial security, there are a few bad spending habits that homeowners can and ought to avoid in 2021 to achieve greater financial freedom.
According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, owning a home can be a great way to increase a person's wealth, but it can also be an easy way to fall into serious financial trouble if the homeowners are not realistic about their financial position.
It takes careful planning, budgeting and saving to reap the financial rewards of homeownership.
Purchasing beyond your means
Buyers should always purchase within their means and should leave themselves a bit of breathing room in case of interest rate hikes and other unexpected events. This needs to be an informed calculation rather than a shot in the dark.
Buyers should do research to find out what they can afford.
BetterBond has a great online affordability calculator that can provide this information free of charge. Beyond this, future homeowners should speak to an estate agent to find out what they can expect to pay on rates and taxes on a property that falls within their budget.
This amount then needs to be factored into their monthly budget to make sure they can truly afford the repayments and everything else that goes along with that.
Not keeping a household budget
Goslett also recommends that homeowners organise their finances in the form of a real-time budget rather than working off an estimated one - or worse, none at all.
"Start by recording your current expenses for the month, that way you can see how much you are actually spending. Thereafter, you can work out realistic goals of how much you want to spend on each item, from groceries to entertainment and everything in between.
"This also makes it easier to identify where you can cut back so that you can start saving. The hardest part is to stick to this budget once you've created it," he explains.
Neglecting to provide for emergency savings
Goslett also recommends that homeowners make room in their budget for unexpected emergency expenses. "One of the things that stress homeowners out the most is not having funds available when things break or need repairing.
"If you are unable to make room in your budget for these sorts of expenses, make sure you have some form of credit or overdraft facility set up to use in case of emergencies," he recommends.
As challenging as it may be to follow the above advice, the rewards will make it worthwhile.
"Living within one's means might be a challenge, but it is better than the alternative of possibly having your home repossessed by the bank for failure to keep up with debt repayments. By purchasing within your means, living within a budget and saving for emergencies, you can enjoy greater financial freedom and reap the long-term rewards of owning an appreciating asset such as a home," Goslett concludes.
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