The top 3 focus areas for creatives who are chasing financial freedom

Having control over your finances is financial freedom in itself. Picture: Pexels

Having control over your finances is financial freedom in itself. Picture: Pexels

Published May 20, 2024


By: Kekeletso Mabizela

Social media influencers are a growing force across platforms like Instagram and TikTok, successfully promoting brands and products that resonate with their audiences. This work calls for a fair price tag and sees many digital content creators gaining great financial ground and a consistent stream of work from the ROI their influence generates, but what are they doing with their hard-earned income?

It’s no secret that creatively minded individuals often have a better time crafting content than crunching numbers, and many don’t consider or conduct their work on social media as a business with targets and reinvestment rates. A lot of influencers don’t have the luxury of a manager to help them with their finances, but the good news is that even influencers without structured support teams can get financially savvy with some simple planning tips.

Being an influencer comes with some unique financial challenges. The irregular income and lack of traditional employer-sponsored benefits such as retirement plans, make being proactive about your financial future that much more crucial.

Saving for retirement is not as exciting as splurging to reward yourself for the paid partnering efforts but having a plan does give your finances some longevity. A quiet moment alone to consider how you’ll afford your lifestyle if you live past 60 years makes one take the future a little more seriously. Putting money aside now makes all the difference.

Here are three top considerations to get on track:

Know your life stage.

If you’re in your 20s-40s, which many influencers are, you may consider getting married, buying a house, or having kids. Even if you already have the textbook adulting metrics covered or if you’re still working towards them, considering your long-term wealth plan is important right now. You don’t need a house or family before you get a retirement plan. But you do need as much time as possible to build a favorable retirement plan.

Know the cost of time.

The secret sauce to a comfortable retirement is compound interest. This is when your money makes money (interest) and then that interest earns interest (compounds), and so it builds, provided it remains untouched to grow into a substantial amount of savings for your golden years. You can start saving for the future with a Retirement Annuity (RA) from as little as R250 per month and you can increase, decrease, or pause your contributions as your earning potential changes, while the money you have saved continues to grow.

Lifestyle inflation is a very common issue to watch out for over time. When we earn more money, we get used to spending more too. The habits and aesthetics of it all make us accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Money has the power to grow if used wisely, but R1000 today vs in the year 2065, won’t buy you the same number of grocery items. The longer you put off saving, the harder it will be to have enough. The sooner you start saving for retirement, the better – this adage exists because it’s a fact.

Know your budget.

Making money as a digital content creator is unpredictable. One month you've secured a multi-month retainer deal, the next, the requests for collaboration are little to none. When the money is good, it's tempting to spend that on nice things for yourself, family, or friends. But it’s important to budget for your monthly expenses and make provision to start saving for retirement. The flexibility of retirement products to pause contributions as it suits your pocket makes them less daunting, so there is no reason to delay.

Like 9-5 employees; with their set paydays and timeous debit orders, as an influencer with a little less guarantee, it’s important to avoid overspending in favour of saving. Your budget needs to match your goals and flourishing financially is a worthwhile goal to have.

A good trick to mitigate frivolous spending is whether you can afford to buy that exorbitantly priced item twice. If you can’t, then you can’t afford it. Don’t let YOLO (You only live once) leave you broke.

Another great perk when saving for retirement is the tax benefit you get every year along the way – helping you to stay the course even though you can’t access your retirement savings for many years.

30 million economically active South Africans do not have a retirement plan. Anyone, regardless of their level of income, can work towards a financially secure future and a financial adviser can help to guide that planning and answer any questions you may have.

Future-proofing your finances as early as possible will alleviate financial stress and give you even more time to curate ideas, experiment creatively and secure more brand partnership bags.

* Mabizela is the digital media manager at Metropolitan.