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Sanlam, also the company behind multi-award winning National Savings Month social experiments – the One Rand Man and the One Rand Family – knew that for the initiative to succeed, it had to partner with celebrities who truly, authentically believe in the message. And despite their ‘celebrity lifestyles' both stars remain steeped in good old-fashioned money values:

  • At her core, media darling Pearl Thusi remains a humble girl who has had her fair share of hard knocks. She believes strongly in setting up an amazing future for herself and her family. She is successful, but first and foremost she is a mother doing everything she can for her daughter. She is teaching her little girl good values, has a strong business ethic and she has a good handle on her finances.
  • Similarly, Cassper Nyovest needed no convincing to take part in this experiment. He is a man who believes that hard work and ‘doing it for yourself' is the way to go. His bugbear is entitlement and people who believe they should be given hand-outs. Growing up, Nyovest's grandparents showed him how to work with money. “They never borrowed any money their whole lives. Everything they owned, they worked for and paid for in cash. I would love this to be the new culture in South Africa.”

Lack of savings is not a uniquely South African issue. Annamaria Lusardi, the US-based founder and academic director of the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Centre and chair of the OECD-International Network on Financial Education‘s research committee, says people the world over are persuaded to spend and buy on credit. “The carmakers want us to buy cars. The food industry wants us to buy food. The clothing industry wants us to buy clothes and shoes. Sometimes, even the government wants us to spend. There are very few institutions telling us to save. This is why I think the Sanlam initiative is such a great one. The financial industry is stepping up.”

Lusardi believes changing the narrative around saving is the key to changing behaviour. “Of course consumption is important and we derive much happiness from, say, our coffee in the morning, having the latest iphone or travelling… but we also have to make sure that we are on a stable financial path. This is why we need to empower individuals to live a fulfilling life – one that is fulfilling over the course of a lifetime, not just today.”

She says the global trend towards poor savings can be linked in part to easy access to credit. “I've seen this in many countries, Italy where I come from, that previously had a very high savings rate. The savings rate was around 20% in Italy in the 1980s, but this figure decreased at around the time access to credit increased. We don't just need access to credit and financial products, we also need financial education, so that people can make the best financial decisions for themselves, those that fit their needs.”

Fernandez says that each year during National Savings Month, South Africans are urged to focus on taking care of their finances by getting out of debilitating debt, setting up a monthly budget and saving for things rather than taking on more credit. But the mission to teach South Africans to spend less and invest more is a tough one, and it cannot succeed if it only receives attention once a year.

“To enable people to live their best possible lives we need to go beyond the way we talk about money to the way financial products are structured, and how and when we educate individuals about savings and investing. Making sure products talk to younger, tech-savvy generations is critical.” Products that keep them engaged and interested, not just in the finances but also the economy, in general, and how local and offshore macro-economic events impact on their savings and investments.

Social media responses

  • mshildah: I cannot lie, I'm so impressed at how lately you're promoting saving money and it is not about popping bottles. @pearlthusi, how can I not fall more and more in love with you though
  • mrsmbundwini_official: LMAO you are on some saving mode these days. I should try practicing your habits myself…
  • craig_sibiya: seems like most well-known people are cutting cost lately, taking a break from the lavish and being simple like ordinary citizens. Nice one @pearlthusi
  • memakwala: You and @casspernyovest cutting costs, now that might be inspiring
  • forever_living_products_16: I love this. He is not broke but he understands the law of money. God bless your hustle. Lots of people are in debt because they're trying to meet the standards of the folk they see on social media

For more about this National Savings Month social experiment visit www.ConspicuousSaving.co.za

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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