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File Image: IOL

Savings Month: Aim is to get the message through in your own language

By Martin Hesse Time of article published Jul 6, 2021

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This past week saw the launch by the South African Savings Institute (SASI) of the annual July National Savings Month. Supported by many of the country’s leading financial institutions, SASI runs a campaign that brings together financial experts to provide insights on savings through the #waystosave financial education initiative. Many of the major institutions also have their own savings awareness and education programmes during the month.

SASI chief executive Gerald Mwandiambira says that in 2021, the focus is on driving awareness around how savings knowledge must be understood and accessible in more South African languages. The core #waystosave theme for 2021 is “Saving in your language”.

“To quote Nelson Mandela, if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart. Everyone can find ways to save in their own language,” Mwandiambira says.

During July, SASI presentes a series of in-depth webinars focused on students, stokvels, entrepreneurs and women, providing an opportunity for many to focus on their financial health. SASI has partnered with leading voices in financial literacy, offering savings insights and tools in various languages.

“As we continue to battle the impact of the pandemic, it is even more critical for people to be money smart. But at times, savings and financial terms can seem like a foreign language,” says Mwandiambira. “The #waystosave webinar speakers will address key issues targeted at specific audiences this year, including saving for students and young adults, bouncing back from retrenchment and saving through stokvels. There is something for everyone.”

The South African Reserve Bank’s Financial Stability Review published on May 27 shows an overall increased rate of savings for households in recent quarters. As a ratio of household income, savings reached a decade high in the third quarter of 2020 (1.4%) before declining to 0.5% in the fourth quarter. At the end of 2021, Trading Economics projects South Africa’s household saving ratio will stand at 0.6%.

The review further shows that low interest rates have significantly improved the debt-service capacity of households. Household debt-to-disposable income increased in 2020, reaching 75.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Despite this, the cost of servicing debt for households fell to 7.7% of income at the end of 2020, down from 9.5% at the end of the previous year and the lowest level in more than 14 years.

SASI chairperson Prem Govender says: “Improvements in the level of household net wealth are encouraging and it shows we can save when under pressure. However, South Africa still has one of the lowest household savings ratios in the world. At SASI, we believe a strong focus on financial inclusion by improving financial literacy across the population is key to improving this ratio. In our increasingly tough economic environment we need to find ways to save and avoid the credit trap. As the economy gradually recovers, interest rates may rise over the short to medium term, which will make paying off debts more difficult. We need to avoid financial blind spots and drive a savings culture to break the cycle of inter-generational debt.”

Follow @waystosave on social media for more and visit www.waystosave.co.za to register for the financial education webinars to be held during the month.

PERSONAL FINANCE

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