Finance guru, blogger and author, Mapalo Makhu shares her journey and provides some insight on attaining financial security.
What attracted you to the finance industry?
It was not an industry I was familiar with; it actually did not exist in my world! I was going to study copywriting at university. But through reading a couple of books in my ‘gap year’, a whole world of finance opened up to me and I knew for sure that it was what I wanted to pursue.
Did you always envision being a successful author, thought leader, wife and mother?
Although I didn’t know how my life would unfold, I have always had the internal belief that I will be successful. I am excited about my future as I know the best is yet to come for me.
What would surprise people about you?
That I am actually very adventurous, I like to try new things. I’ve been bungee jumping, ziplining and more. and am now planning on skydiving.
What motivates you?
Knowing that God has destined me for all that is good. That I have within me the tools and heart to make my dreams come true.
What inspired you to start a blog and publish a book?
I started the Woman & Finance blog to demystify personal finance and educate women about how money works. The blog then turned into writing for reputable magazines and national newspapers.
I think it was from this work that I got the attention of an editor at publisher, Penguin Random House, who approached and commissioned me to write my first book, You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich.
What are your thoughts on women empowerment in relation to finance?
I have always believed that a woman must have her own money. Even if you as a woman have made the decision to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, you need to make sure you have some form of savings and investments of your own.
What do you hope to achieve via your platforms?
To reach as many women as possible and to help women become more confident in their decisions when it comes to money.
What are key financial lessons to enable financial freedom?
Live within your means – spend less than you earn and invest the difference.
Build your emergency fund – aim for at least 3-6 months of your monthly expenses.
Avoid debt like the plague!
Invest for your future.
What are key steps people have to take to ensure financial security?
Practice consciousness when it comes to your finances – look at your wants versus needs. Be goal-orientated and ask yourself this question when it comes to big and small purchases: does this purchase move me closer to my financial goals or not? It is also important to not only save but invest your money, so it retains its purchasing power.
Considering the costs related to having and rearing children, what advice would you give to parents on financial responsibility and freedom?
Planning is important from the onset. Start planning and saving as soon as possible. Kids are expensive but planning will help parents to not feel overwhelmed. Think about where you would like to send your kids to school and what financial decisions you have to take to make that a reality.
Since becoming a mother, what in your experience are some of the biggest lessons you learned from a financial perspective?
Have an emergency fund! You have to stay prepared because as any mother will tell you, expenses always come up!
What do you feel helps a relationship when it comes to managing finances?
Honesty, transparency and having a shared vision and financial goals. Talking about money together and planning. Not burying your head in the sand even when things don’t go as planned.
When is a good time to start teaching children financial responsibility?
From as early as possible, but it has to be age appropriate. Children are very observant and also learn by seeing how their parents interact with money. So, it’s important for parents to talk about money with them and to involve them in certain aspects of money management e.g. getting them a piggy bank and reinforcing with them that before they spend, they need to save. Giving kids tasks for which they could earn money.
It’s also very important to teach kids patience and that they cannot always get everything whenever they want. As a parent you are allowed to say no! For example, my oldest son has asked for a Nintendo and we told him he will have to wait until his birthday to receive it. As a result, he is always coming up with ideas on how to earn extra money around the house so he can save up for his games!
How has your life changed since becoming a wife and mother?
I can’t always be impulsive when it comes to decision-making. Before having kids, we would decide on a whim to go on a weekend away , for example, but now we have to plan around our boys, work schedules and finances!
How do you maintain balance in your life?
I still try to make time for myself and do things that set my soul on fire. As cliché as this sounds the more I pour into myself and love myself, it becomes so much easier to pour into my kids, family, partner and friends. I go on solo retreat three times a year. I love holidays, going to the gym and most important, I get lots of help in the form of having a helper, having my sisters and parents.
What would you say is your greatest achievement thus far?
Being comfortable with who I am and showing up in the world more and more as my authentic self, knowing that I am enough. Knowing that I belong on a seat at the table, and I can take up space. I also take pride in the fact that I think I am brave, and I stretch myself even when I am afraid.
What has been your greatest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Definitely being hard on myself. Whenever I don’t reach certain goals I always criticise myself but as I get older, I realise that life doesn’t always go the way we want and I am embracing that.
What are some of your future goals?
To grow my company Woman & Finance into a fully-fledged educational website where people can find multiple online courses on personal finance, eBooks, tools, calculators, 1-on-1 sessions, webinars and more. To evolve it into a business that doesn’t require me to be on social media as much. To be a part-time lecturer, write another personal finance book (maybe a few more!), buy a property on a quiet island, live in New York for a month and lastly, to take my parents, siblings and their families on a 2-week holiday somewhere stunning like Bali. They have always believed in me and I’d love to experience this with them.