A number of surveys in South Africa and in other countries have shown just how little the population as a whole knows about management of their personal finances, and about the financial world in general.
A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that South African people were the least financially literate of the 30 global economies covered by the survey. Only 30% of South Africans achieved a score of at least five out of seven in the tests used by the OECD. Particular areas of concern included people being unaware of the compound interest benefits that are available via savings accounts, and consumers being unable to calculate simple interest on their savings.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has reported that a surprisingly high number of South Africans report being unable to cover household essentials, and says that more people in South Africa are experiencing this than in some of the poorer countries in the region.
Additionally, if people are financially illiterate, it is much more likely that they will fall victim to mis-selling scandals, and to scams and swindles.
Fortunately, help is at hand. There are many online financial resources that you can access free of charge to help you in managing your financial affairs.
- Wonga’s Money Academy
The well-known cash loans provider Wonga has a wealth of information on Debt, Saving, Budgeting and Investing available via its Money Academy. The site includes a series of fun, interactive videos to engage the viewer, and allows you to test your knowledge via a series of simple exercises.
- Khan Academy
The Khan Academy’s mission is “to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. This US-based non-profit organisation provides a vast online video resource that allows you to study almost any subject. Specifically regarding financial matters, you can learn about taxation, accounting, insurance, retirement, debt, interest, housing, investment vehicles, stocks and bonds, inflation and the general economic picture.
The financial world is full of jargon. Find out what some of the most confusing terms mean by visiting Investopedia, which is a massive online financial dictionary. The site also contains a large number of news stories on current affairs and financial issues.
- Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning
Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning is a series of online courses offered by the University of California-Irvine. It says of ‘financial planning’:
“Financial planning, in the broadest sense, is an effort to manage all aspects of a person / family’s financial affairs. Classically, that begins with planning family spending and extends through risk management (insurance), taxes, wealth accumulation, investing, and wealth distribution (retirement and estate planning).”
The course comprises 22 lessons – there are eight modules and between one and six lessons in each. Topics covered include:
- Determining Goals
- Changing Words into Numbers
- Doing the Math
- Preparing to Plan
- Figuring Out Where You Are
- Creating A Net Worth Statement
- Creating A Cash Flow Statement
- Property & Casualty Insurance
- Life & Disability Insurance
- Long Term Care Insurance
- Funding Retirement
- College Planning
- Estate Planning Basics
- Freakonomics Radio
Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt wrote the 2005 smash hit book Freakonomics, which was followed by SuperFreakonomics (2009) and Think Like a Freak (2014). Now their idea of “a rogue economist examining the hidden side of everything” has moved to US radio, where they look at diverse topics such as:
- Why Are We Still Using Cash?
- Why Is My Life So Hard?
- Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask)
- Why Don’t We All Speak The Same Language?
- Budgets Are Sexy
This website is particularly noted for its excellent budget planning tools that you can use to get your own finances in order. The site is run by a man who calls himself J.Money, and who says he learned the hard way about the need to manage your finances effectively when he purchased his first home. His easy-to-read and entertaining articles might also give you vital tips on issues such as budget planning, credit cards and retirement planning.