IN THIS adverse economic climate, even good savers cannot escape the hardships many consumers are feeling.

Lee Hancox CFP, head of channel and segment marketing at Sanlam Personal Finance, shared some of her own hard lessons with SunMoney to help us learn from them.

“It’s important to share these lessons from my life experiences.

“Just because I’m in the industry doesn’t mean I don’t go through financial hard knocks,” she says.

Hancox points out some tough life knocks that can leave one miserable. These include:

  • Retrenchment: South Africa has one of the world’s highest unemployment rates (over 27%). We are entering our 22nd year with an unemployment rate of over 20%
  • Divorce: At present, four out of 10 marriages end in divorce before their 10th anniversary
  • The sudden disability of the main breadwinner: The loss of ability to earn an income is the single-biggest risk a 20- to 50-year-old faces
  • Being a member of the sandwich generation: Those who need to make provision for the future while looking after parents and children experience tremendous financial strain.

Some of the knocks Hancox has encountered, and what she has learnt from them, include:

1 No money to study.

“At 17, I matriculated and realised my parents had not been able to save up for my tertiary education. So I looked for a job. That’s how I ended up in insurance.

2 Then came divorce at 26, with a year-old daughter.

“I wanted the divorce over and done with and I assumed we’d always be friends, working together to raise our child. So I didn’t make the best financial decisions at the time.”

When things did not turn out as planned, she wished she’d spoken to an attorney and a financial planner.

Two things you must have:

  • Have that emergency fund in place! I can’t stress this one enough and
  • Don’t be tempted to live off your retrenchment package.