Stop throwing away free money and get yourself a tax-free savings account!

We have all complained over the past few years about corruption, high taxes, e-tolls, the list goes on. Surprise surprise that our government have actually done some (good) work recently though by creating something every South African must take advantage of and that is…

The Tax-free savings account!

You might have heard of it on the radio and seen flyers and newsletters from your bank about it, but you haven’t really taken proper notice. Well I’m going to tell you that you NEED to get onto this today. Why? Because you are throwing away FREE MONEY!

Free money Jason? How is that even possible living in South Africa paying tax on every direction we turn here?

It’s pretty simple. The government knows South African’s don’t save enough. The problem is there is no incentive for us to save because the day we do withdraw that money from our investments, the tax-man puts his hand into our money bag to take his portion for Nkandla’s fire pool. They have realised that when everyone starts retiring and stops paying taxes, there will be a massive number of retired elderly folk that will want hand-outs from government and that is a big no-no as there won’t be any money to then top-up that fire pool.

That’s where your tax-free savings account comes in handy. It really is tax-free! No income tax, no capital gains tax, no dividend withholdings tax, no nothing tax!

If you stick to the following 2 rules of the tax-free savings account, you’ll have the pleasure of sticking a big middle-finger to government when withdrawing your hard-earned savings.

So what are the 2 rules?

Rule 1: You can only invest R30 000 a year into your tax-free savings account
Rule 2: Your overall life-time investment into the tax-free savings account is R500 000.

What happens if I break one of these rules?

Mr. tax-man will take a 41% cut of anything you invest over those amounts. Eina! (The tax-free savings accounts will make sure you don’t break these rules, so there isn’t anything to worry about really.)

Here is an example of what you could save using a tax-free savings account.

James invests R2500 a month for 16 years and 8 months. (That’s R30k a year and R500 000 in lifetime savings). If his investment earned 25% per annum for those 16 years, and he cashes in during year 17, he would receive a fat cheque for R5 736 108! He also saves R828 765 in tax that normally would have gone to Nkandla’s fire pool, but not with a tax-free savings account.
Over R800k in free money people!

  • James saved R500k of his hard-earned cash
  • James would receive R5 736 108 (assuming 25% growth p.a.) after 17 years
  • James would NOT be paying a tax bill of R828 765 (That would have been more than his initial investment!)

Ok, you have my attention and I want in! Where do I sign up?

All the banks and “authorised financial services providers” have tax-free savings account options. Another thing that is really great about these tax-free savings accounts is you can also invest in ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds – think Satrix, Top 40 JSE listed companies etc. JSE.co.za has a great breakdown of all the ETFs you can invest in with a tax-free savings account) which, over the long-term, will outperform any of the bank’s “savings” accounts.

My suggestion is do a little research and stay away from the big banks. No one has ever become rich by saving their money in a bank.

Personally, I’ve opened an account with Emperor Asset Management but take a look at SatrixStanlib, Momentum or Sygnia for alternative options to the money grabbing banks.

Another tip is if you have less than R30k currently invested in an ETF that is covered by the tax-free savings plan, cancel that investment and get that money back into the fund using the tax-free savings account. I opened an account with Satrix for my 1 year old daughter and have just recently cancelled it to move the money into a tax-free savings account and back into the very same ETF. She can thank me later. :)

Opening a tax-free savings account is a no-brainer for your kids as well as anyone looking to save over the long-term – 10+ years.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

Disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor, so please get advice from someone that is, before investing your hard-earned money.

How to save money on flights

I had to urgently buy plane tickets for a meeting in Joburg on Thursday and because I am paying out of my own pocket (well my business’s pocket – more on this very very soon), I wanted to find the cheapest flights. Travelsmart is a good site to compare flights, but the difference I found in price for a return ticket when I searched was only around R150. Also, having a sneaky suspicion that Travelsmart take a small commission on flights, I went to search each airline directly too.

Bear in mind that tickets literally change price every hour. The prices increase AND decrease, so by waiting a little doesn’t mean that all prices will be more expensive, in my case it was cheaper!

Search by return AND search one way

That’s how I managed to save over R350 a ticket. I first searched by return flights from CPT to JHB and none of the 1time flights were less than R700. I then searched for a 1 way ticket and found a ticket for R389. I purchased that ticket and then did another one way ticket for my return journey and found another ticket for R389! So instead of buying a return ticket on the same day, I bought 2 one way tickets on the same day and managed to save over R650!

So next time you are looking for cheap flights, search one way tickets and return tickets. You will be surprised!

World markets sent crashing

The $700 billion dollar bailout plan the U.S. government were proposing was rejected and as news of this hit Wall Street, markets went only one way. Yesterday was also the worst single-day point loss ever in U.S. market history with Wall Street losing $1.2 trillion in market capitalization.

Here are some gloomy pics from yesterday’s trading.

Mac OSX widget

Google Finance Markets

Google Finance Sectors

Trader

Trader 2

Trader 3

No free Dell laptop for me

I just received an email regarding my order I placed for a Dell Inspiron 9400. Due to a glitch in their website, the laptop’s were priced at R0! All I had to pay was R570 for shipping. But as mostly everyone suspected, Dell probably wouldn’t pull through and send the laptops out of pure embarrassment. All they did send was this lousy letter of apology.

Dell Inspiron 640m and 9400

Dear Jason,

I am writing to you to inform you that as a result of a technical error we have inadvertently advertised the Dell Inspiron 640m and 9400 on our web store at R0. This is incorrect. The goods should have been priced at R6,990 and R10,990 respectively. As a result we are unable to fulfill your recent order for these goods. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused. If you have already paid for any associated goods, software or delivery charges forming part of your order for the Dell Inspiron 640m and/or 9400 please furnish us with your banking details and you will be reimbursed within the next few days.

We are in the process of correcting these technical issues. We hope to have this store up and running by early next week.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or your account manager if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely

Gavin Slevin
Brand Manager – Mobile Products

Heres a screenshot of my original order.
Dell Order

Im sure Mike Stopforth and the likes are going to have harsher words to say than me about Dell, and their non-delivery, especially after he promised he’d donate all 6 laptops he ordered to Baragwanath. :-)

I’d compare this experience to playing the Lotto. I had a ticket to a free laptop, but didn’t strike it lucky. :-(

How to properly use a credit card and save money!

I hear it all too often from people that credit cards are “bad“. “Credit cards are so expensive to use!” say some, and the the most common one is “The banks just charges way to much interest on credit cards.“. The funny thing is that a credit card is the best financial product offered by banks, in the world. There is no other banking product that allows you to keep your money for 55 days, gives you substantial interest on a credit balance and charges you no transaction fees!

The only reason people are scared of using credit cards is that they are misinformed. You just see people flashing their credit cards all over the show, and you think to yourself, “shame, that person can’t manage their debt.” But the truth is, that using a credit card properly, actually can save and make you money! So listen up, and adhere to my tips on credit card usage, and you will save money!

Choosing the right credit card

Every single banking institution, and lately, large corporate companies offer some sort of credit card. All have different interest rates, annual fees, rewards schemes, etc. So finding the credit card that is right for you is very important. Once you have all the facts, you can make the right decision on which card to choose.

Virgin Money

If you have never owned a credit card before, or are new to the whole credit card thing, go straight to Virgin Money and sign up. As long as you are earning a living, you should qualify. The reason I choose Virgin, are two simple factors. No annual fees, which in essence makes owning a credit card free, and their 5% credit interest rate. But you might be on Discovery Medical, and their credit card might appeal to you more because of their rewards scheme etc. Choose wisely, but don’t not choose a credit card!

How to use a credit card wisely

This is the step where a lot of people get caught, and get stuck in the never ending spiral of debt and interest-on-debt repayment. Your credit card will have a limit that you are allowed to spend. Remember, this doesn’t mean you must spend that amount every month! Draw up a budget, and the amount of money you spend a month on your credit card must be on that budget, so that at the end of the month, you haven’t spent more money than you earn.

The rules of a credit card are so, that if you buy a pair of shoes on your credit card today, you only have to pay the bank back for those shoes in 55 days time. 55 days! That is almost two months! This is where you can make money from the bank. Using this rule means that the money that you owe for those shoes should be sitting in an interest-bearing account so that for 55 days you can earn interest on the money that the bank just lent you for 55 days, interest free! Confusing you hey? Look at this example…

  • I have R1000 in my savings account, and I want to buy a pair of shoes.
  • Puma sneakers: R1000 (Some bling man!)
  • Pay for these sneakers using your Credit Card.
  • Transaction fees buying sneakers: R0
  • For 55 days that R1000 is earning interest sitting in your savings account.
  • After 55 days, you transfer that R1000 into your credit card – in order to pay the bank back for your funky shoes.
  • You get charged not 1 cent from the bank, but you have just earned interest on the bank’s money for 55 days!

Stick to these 3 rules, and make money with your credit card!

  1. Do not spend on your credit card what you cannot buy with hard cash. Buy that pair of sneakers on your credit card, but if you do not have the hard cash in the bank, do not charge it!
  2. Pay back the full amount you owe on your credit card every single month. By missing just one payment, all your hard work saving, can be lost, because of the high rate at which you get charged for late, or not paying up in full. Sometimes up to 25% on your outstanding amount!
  3. If you do not have a savings account to utilise, put all your monthly spending budget into your credit card, and earn interest that way! That means you can earn up to 5% on your spare cash lying around!