You and Your Family Budget

You and Your Family family moneyBudget.You and Your Budget.
It’s all very well for the Minister of Finance to speak to us about the country’s needs and spending but much of it goes way over the heads of most ordinary people. We listen or read expert analysis and just carry on with our lives hoping for the best. Right now it might be good to consider our own budgets and spending and how many of us have those deficits which we normally call debts. What we do is try to use the same tactic as the government and borrow to cover the debt but that is self-defeating in the end. Research shows that up to 60% of South Africans are heavily indebted, which in fact means they are going backwards. Consistently spending more than is earned or coming in from other sources only leads to a growing deficit or debt that hangs around our necks forevermore.
But there is hope, if some form of discipline is applied, as there should be on a national scale too. Debt counsellors are able to consolidate debt and even negotiate reductions of repayments. This process is a very helpful resource that not only reduces the debt but also teaches the necessary discipline. Good stewardship for money management is the Christian way, a virtue, and can and should include caring for the poor too.
In a recent morning homily Pope Francis said, “How many parents say they are good Catholics, but never have time to talk to their children, to play with their children, to listen to their children.” How many parents discuss money management and debt with their children or do we just give and give them money rather than time. Some kids are natural entrepeneurs, starting a tiny business, but they can also be helped with skills for investing, checking out interest rates and growing a little capital. Do the family members in whatever income bracket have any idea what it costs to run a household? A PACSA 2015 report shows that an average poor urban family of 7 spends R1600 per month on food while a more balanced good nutritional food basket should cost over R3000. How does that compare to the rest of us? And that is only for food, many other items such as transport, electricity, clothes, cellphones and entertainment get added.
It is quite likely that if families would get together and talk such matters through that the adult members, who are carrying the debt, would be challenged to evaluate and consider seeking help. That is putting your money with your mouth is. As Pope Francis said too, “What God wants: the way of saying and not doing is deception.”
A Money course is part of the basket of programmes offered by Alpha. Its basic premise is good stewardship. On a practical level the sessions cover listing what we spend, what we believe we need, budgeting and saving. As part of family enrichment and support MARFAM is working towards a Work-Family balance course, that would include money management, but also time management and communication skills. Funds would be required for such a project but it could be a very helpful resource. If it was used of course.
Bringing issues such as money management down to grass-roots and to family level is family education and can even be classified as a human rights issue. Among other rights the Church’s Charter of Family Rights also endorses the rights to employment i.e. to work and to have work – but there is also the responsibility to productivity and to spend wages wisely. Is there an effective Minister of Finance in your family? TR

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