As we inch into 2022, most are relieved to be seeing the back of 2021. With the New Year comes an inevitable time of introspection – and maybe even some resolutions.
New Year’s Resolutions in a time of COVID-19
Sanlam’s Dear 2019 Me campaign showed many South Africans have learned some powerful “lockdown lessons” in the last few years.
As part of a poll, 58% of participants said the pandemic prompted them to prioritise their physical and mental wellbeing, while 26% of South Africans started budgeting. Now maybe the moment to lean on these lessons as inspiration for 2022’s New Year’s resolutions.
“Before you flex a muscle, you must build it,” said Farzana Botha, segment solutions manager at Sanlam Savings. “Same goes for your journey to financial confidence. It comes through training yourself by repeating – and rewarding yourself for – “good” money behaviours.”
Set attainable goals and then come up with a “training programme”, whereby you create a realistic roadmap to reach them.
Clinical psychologist Dr Nozi Nyawose adds, “The pandemic has given us insight into what we value as important.”
She says many South Africans have had to confront big challenges and learnings throughout this period.
“Now, the onus rests on each of us to do what we can to positively change our finances, health and relationships.”
Here are some inspiring resolutions to “try on” for 2022, based on what South Africans say they wish their pre-pandemic selves had known when it comes to finances, love, and health.
On the money
Resolution 1: Start budgeting! About a quarter of South Africans began budgeting during the pandemic and 31% reprioritised their financial plan. In 2022, resolve to continue this journey. Botha adds, “Learn how to further optimise your budget. Can you make it ‘skinnier’? Can you cut or reduce more debt? Can you try new savings vehicles that have medium- to long-term commitment periods, so you can set longer goals, like saving for a home? Chat to a professional to see how you can optimise your plan and create more wealth through a savvy savings mindset.”
Resolution 2: Talk about the taboo: 43% of South Africans shared that they started to talk more about money over the last few years. Resolve to have monthly family ‘money’ dates, where everyone sets shared goals and commits to saving and budgeting plans, together.
Resolution 3: Do the rainy day thing: 36% of South Africans wanted to tell their pre-Covid-19 selves to manage their finances better and take out policies to safeguard their income. As a young person especially, the single biggest risk is the loss of ability to earn an income. Protect against this through suitable policies like income protection and disability cover. It’s also never too late to start an emergency fund – resolve to do this ASAP. It should have the equivalent of 3-6 months’ worth of salaries saved up.
Resolution 2: Invest in what counts: Over the last two years, 59% of South Africans invested in life cover, medical aid, therapy, and online fitness. Put the building blocks in place to safeguard what’s important – your financial and physical health and your family’s as well.
Resolution 1: Put yourself first: 20% of South Africans had a health focus and intended to live a healthier lifestyle. It’s essential to make time to prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing. You can’t fill others’ cups if your own is empty. Be disciplined and systematic about making time for yourself.
Resolution 3: Make sure your mental health matters: It has been a time of profound loss, grief and displacement. Allow yourself to go through the different stages to acceptance and integration. And don’t be afraid to seek help. Resolve to reach out if you need to. Nyawose adds, “The fact that South Africans are focusing on physical and mental health shows a positive shift towards ‘true health’ – the recognition that the two are not separate, but equally important.”
On matters of the heart
Resolution 1: Make time for your tribe: The number one “lockdown lesson” 44% of South Africans cited was to “spend more time with family and friends and to appreciate these moments”. Faced with our own mortality and that of our loved ones, many have done “life audits” to reprioritise what’s important. In 2022, resolve to continue setting aside time for your tribe.
Resolution 2: Play open cards: Sadly, lockdowns have put some relationships into proverbial pressure cookers. Financial strain was cited as one of the biggest pressure points for partnerships. Find “safe” ways to talk money together. Consider seeing a financial planner as a mediator to devise a holistic plan that provides for both partners.
Resolution 3: Ease into big changes: Lots of people said their living circumstances changed. Some moved back home with their parents. Others moved out, away from their partners as relationships ran their course. With big changes in circumstances can come big financial shifts. Relook a financial plan, plot a new course, and consider contacting an adviser for help. Be gentle with yourself and don’t make any knee-jerk decisions.
Nyawose adds, “It takes conscious effort to be cognisant of the things that require “mending” in life. Find inspiration in the things you love and make you happy and ‘healthy’ things that bring out the best in you.”