Financial Intelligence: Are you a good steward of your money?

Both my grandfathers were headmasters.  I never met my paternal grandfather but one thing that my maternal grandfather – and for that fact grandmother as well – never got tired of drumming into our heads was the important of education.  I have always interpreted this to mean both formal and informal education.  My definition of informal education is learning from the lessons that life presents to you.

One such lesson lies in the importance of saving and having realistic financial goals.   The truth is you don’t have to be earning millions to start.  In life i believe it is always the first step that is the hardest and therefore the most powerful. It is important to start where you are.  The rule of thumb is always to save 10% of what you earn whatever that may be after your tithes and other obligations.

I am passionate about women being financially intelligent because I find it upsetting when we can spend eye-watering amounts on our hair, make up, shoes and clothes but not put a cent aside for a rainy day.  Please don’t get me wrong, i want to look good like the next person but as my dad always says, “All those things will never end, so sacrificing ‘shopping money’ in order to start putting away money for investments; your pension etc. seems like a small price to pay.  Life really is about reaping what we sow…”

Below are some principles that I apply to my life:

  • Tithing – there is something  powerful about giving back to God the first 10% of your income – Malachi 3v 10 -12
  • Take the time out to prepare a realistic budget ( see article on budgeting)
  • Save at least 10% of your income every month
  • Have a rainy day fund which should be 8 times what your monthly expenses are.
  • Pray and work towards having multiple streams of income.  Now for everyone this may be as simple as taking the time out every couple of months to de-clutter your home and sell things you may not need anymore.  Seek God to show you what else you can do to bring in extra cash.
  • Set savings goals. Establish what it is you are saving for exactly. For instance, if you would like to buy your first piece of land in the particular area of town, and you’ve done your research, you can pretty much give a ball-park figure of what it will cost you to buy that land per square meter. Maybe you are working towards the purchase of your first car. Knowing that it will cost you $5000 to buy the car and another $5000 to get it shipped over, coupled with the dreaded duty costs – you have figure in mind that you need to work towards. Your target is $10,000 and it will cost you X amount to save it. Creating a goal, or reason for your saving is important because it gives you focus.

I heard a very sad but common story about a woman whose husband died in a tragic car accident and left the family with nothing but debts that sadly she was unaware of.  What makes this situation even more painful is that for the better part of the last 10 years the widow was a ‘kept woman’ who allowed her husband to handle EVERY single aspect of their finances, to the extent that on the day that he died because he handled all their finances and gave her an ‘allowance’ all she had to her name was $10…

She is now finds herself in a situation where the family has no vehicle as it was a complete write off – and that was the least of the struggles that ensued. Said lady had to endure the task of getting up to speed with what it was that the husband was doing to get them into debt, reading the fine print on paperwork signed and trying to keep her head above water in every way.

It gets even testier when there are children are involved. Was there any money aside for their school fees? Was the house they called home at some point put up as collateral for one of the many transactions the husband was involved in? She was a ‘kept woman’ – but did she have any previous experience she could ride on to get back into the work force or continue on with the business that her husband was running? I never got wind of the answers to those questions, but do imagine that had she been better prepared, perhaps after this life changing tragic event may have been softened.

Ladies, we have to be shrewd about issues of finances. I know people who borrow about town so they can serve a nice roast chicken for dinner every day or keep the pool full. As we know all too well – life can throw some hectic curveballs that often times leave us realising just how unprepared we were. Are there wiser decisions we can make with our money? Are we being good stewards with the money that passes through our hands and our books?

Quintessentially Yours

QF Ruvimbo

Starting a business: QF Edith’s tips for success

I find myself in a somewhat unenviable situation where I am UNEMPLOYED! A lot of Zimbabwean sisters can relate to this right now – being out of work in an instant. Most of us were in our comfort zones, holding on to the mistaken belief that our jobs were forever secure, having risen to dizzying heights and not seeing any obstacles.  So much life and energy to go on with the grind till we dropped. Now left with very few choices, a lot of us have decided to do the best we can with what we have. Some of us have resolved to start a business!

As I talk to my fellow would-be entrepreneurs I find that most businesses have not taken off due to – not having any capital. Women with amazing ideas and game changing products are holding back because there is no money to start their ventures. I used to be one of those women who felt that when I launched my product, I would launch it BIG! The impact of my product would be felt across the entire continent. But alas, to date I have started one thing after another and failed to see it through because I did not have enough money (or any money) to fulfil my big dream.

One day I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing lady called Fungai Ndemera who is running a successful business that she started from scratch. She reminded me that God has a purpose for me, whether I am employed or not, whether I am earning or not, whether I am running a successful business or not. The only thing I need to start fulfilling my dream is ME! After that encounter I set out to start where I was and using my experience and expertise I decided to launch my consultancy and training business.

Look, I am still struggling with a lot of issues, still building my brand, still learning new and valuable lessons. I have made some epic mistakes, I am far from perfect but here are some of the things I have learnt and which I feel could help a lot of my sisters in their up and coming businesses:

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  1. Money is nice but not key

I have met a few people who run businesses, have the starting capital, and even have a ready market yet still they fail. I have also seen people who have started with nothing but a dream and they have done very well. So! Is money all that then?

For me, the first and most important thing to have is a dream or a goal! Every business starts from a mere idea so take your ideas seriously. Write down what you envision, identify your strengths and weaknesses, have a map of how you are going to reach your goal. Pray, pray, pray for direction and wisdom in meeting your goal.

Lately a lot of innovative and determined individuals have invented amazing products that eventually earn a lot of money for them. I find that such people have accomplished so much because they were led by their vision. Not having money did not stop them, in fact for some it encouraged them to keep going. They realise and accept that the money will eventually come but first the product or service must be available…. and good.

  1. Create the right mindset

Having a great idea is not enough if your mind is filled with fear of failure, fear of competition and any other negative thoughts that may take over. While it is perfectly normal to be fearful and to acknowledge the threats to your idea or your dream, you need to develop a clear and positive path mentally.

As you start your business prepare yourself for various hindrances, distractions, naysayers. Be aware of your enemies and possible threats but keep your eyes on God and focus on the work you have been called to do.

Creating a positive mindset is not always easy but it is certainly essential in ensuring that you hold onto your vision. The people you work with or serve also need to feel the confidence radiating from you. Imagine someone selling a product to you but doubting the success of their own product. Only you can convince others to trust and believe in your product so make sure that your mind is properly aligned to your dream.

  1. Approach your concept and clients professionally

A lot of good ideas fail to take off because of bad attitudes, disrespect for clients, employees and service providers and lack of discipline. As a business grows, so does its reputation. It is therefore vital to ensure that the reputation is good from the very start. Being professional is not something that can be left to multi-million dollar businesses. In fact, small and growing businesses need it the most.  Remember that it is easier now to become an overnight global brand and in the same vein, becoming a global failure can happen in an instant.

No one likes to be kept waiting. Respect your client’s time and deliver products promptly. Give every client the very best of yourself whether they are a friend, relative or stranger. Send invoices and provide receipts when required. Return calls and respond professionally to emails.

Treat your concept with respect. Take care of your documents and company assets. Protect your intellectual property and regularize all company documents.

  1. Honesty, integrity and respect

In my profession I have met a lot of great minds, people with astounding problem solving skills but most of whom lack honesty, integrity, respect or all three. These people run businesses where people place a lot of confidence not only in their services but in their ability to protect confidential and often potentially harmful information. Clients are willing to pay a lot of money for these services and yet sometimes the confidence and trust is grossly betrayed. As business owners there is a moral and legal duty to protect your clients by being honest and giving them the product they paid for (and a little extra if possible). Lying to clients is a sure way of losing out on their patronage and can damage future prospects.

Sometimes the lies come by way of overpromising, claiming to have capacity to deliver what you cannot. It is vital to always communicate with clients where potential or real threats appear. Simply informing a client that something is wrong before the client comes ranting and raving is advisable.

Respecting clients is more than being polite and courteous, it also means taking their needs seriously, taking all reasonable measures to protect their private information as well as their reputation.

  1. Do not give up

Starting a business is very tough especially in an economy that is struggling and where the market is probably saturated with similar products or ideas. It is easy to be tempted to give up on a potentially great idea because of economic, bureaucratic and other hindrances.

Each time you feel like giving up remind yourself why you started your business and how much you have invested in it. Remember every dream comes with its challenges.

“Do not focus on your circumstances. Look at what’s in your heart.” – Joyce Meyer.

Do not give up!

  1. Take time out

It is essential to take time out to refresh and re-energise. I know that a lot of the time, in today’s world, we are encouraged to always be on point, to be on top of our game, to bring on the best at all times. While this is ideal, it can also be very damaging to the individual and the business. As human beings we have to accept that we have limits and we need to take a break from the hustle every now and again. As Christian women we should be led by our Maker’s example where He, in all His glory, took time to rest.

On the other hand, we cannot take time to rest when tasks are generally incomplete. You cannot rest before you’ve done the work. Funny as this bit of advice seems, I have come across a lot of young women who claim to “deserve” a break or a treat after barely lifting a finger. In order to be a successful business owner it is important to know when and how to strike the balance between hard work and well deserved rest.

As we try to navigate through the often challenging venture of starting (and maintaining) a business I invite you, dear sisters to share this verse with me, for from it I find focus and a vision;

“Come, let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a disgrace…. And they said, Let us rise up and build! So they strengthened their hands for the good work.”

Nehemiah 2: 17-18.

Let us pick up the broken pieces of our lives and rise up to build our lives, our hopes, our dreams, our families, our communities, our homes, our nation, our businesses.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Edith

One Dollar At A Time

So you’ve been working for roughly five years post graduation from your first degree and in the big scheme of things on a scale of one to ten in your opinion, you would rate your life as a healthy 7.  You give yourself a pat on the back, look up to Heaven and blow kisses to God because had it not been for His Grace and Mercy…this story would have had a different ending.  Great you say.  So on your commute home, you are flipping through the Evening Standard and you look over your shoulder to a fellow bright young thing sitting next to you.  “Nice shoes”, you mutter to yourself as you get back to your paper. You soon after overhear snippets of her conversation

“Pension…started right after Uni…rainy day fund.”

Naturally being the alert twenty-something that you are, you forget your article and start musing to yourself…”mmm I wonder how much is in my bank account?  Gosh I don’t have a rainy day fund.”  As all these questions race through your head, you are ashamed to say that your line of thought was more along the lines of “mmm can’t wait to get that pair of shoes, and I need to call Mary to book an appointment for my weave Saturday afternoon…” You get where I’m going with this right.

How many of you young ladies out there who are working it in your different professions have ever really thought about any kind of financial future.  Be it starting to contribute to some sort of pension fund, saving a percentage of your monthly income, or dare I say it pay off those credit cards.

Now don’t get me wrong I love looking fierce like the next woman out there but I believe that now more than ever in an age where we are inundated with information on financial literacy, it is a crying shame to not take appropriate steps to working out some sort of financial plan for your future.

This wake up call is not intended to make you want to crawl into a corner and hide but cause you to at least take a breath and locate yourself where your finances are concerned. The result should therefore be to start making the appropriate changes to your financial life.

The bright young thing engrossed in her paper above was me several years ago, and truth be told it’s many women out there who are going through life ambivalent about their finances. It’s time to empower yourself ladies and change how you view money…One dollar at a time

Outlined are ten points I would like you to consider

As a woman of God I believe it is important to tithe 10% of your income and give offerings as a form of obedience and gratitude to God – Malachi 3v10-12

After your tithe it is important to put 10% of your gross income in a savings account

To create some semblance of structure in how you spend your money, it is important to have a budget.

Set financial goals that encourage you to be disciplined with how you spend money

Research pension funds that you can start contributing an amount that you can afford

Live debt free, if you do have debt. Take a minute to sit down and work out exactly what and who you owe. Once you have done this work on paying your loans off.

As much as is practical use cash. Always using your Debit card means that you can easily blow the budget without realizing it.

Be honest about your spending habits. If you find that every month you feel the need to treat yourself with some item of clothing, pair of shoes, hand bag etc. Force yourself to have a spending diary so you see where your money is going.  As you self-analyze consider why you feel it’s necessary to always shop. Could this be an addiction?  Can you go a month without treating yourself?

If this is the first time you are actually facing the reality of your financial health, find someone you trust to confide in to encourage and motivate you to be committed to changing your relationship with your finance

Finally exhale and smile. You are taking steps to empowering yourself

This article is the first of many to come as we explore all things financial.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF – Ruvimbo

Foodie & Culinary Queen Taffy Pfupajena Shares on Her Passion

Tastefully Mama T Proprietor and Entrepreneur Tafadzwa Pfupajena Talks Food & Running a Culinary Business

QF is so excited to share this interview of Tafadzwa Pfupajena nee Pongweni, wife, mom and fierce entrepreneur in the culinary realm. We love her simply because her story illustrates to all of us out there that if you do what you love, and share your gifting with your loved ones, resounding doors of opportunity and profits may find their way into your world sooner than you imagined…

Introducing Owner of Tastefully MamaT – Tafadzwa Pfupajena…

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Who is Tafadzwa Pfupajena nee Pongweni in ten words?

I cheated with this question because I find it difficult to describe myself. Very few people know me well, but one of the people that do is my bestie, Shathiso Coyne. These are the words she used to describe me: generous, thoughtful, analytical, intelligent, compassionate, sensitive, creative/stylish, poised, nurturing.

Who/What inspired you to start Tastefully MamaT?

Some people exercise, take up gardening or even read to relax – I cook. I’ve always dreamt of opening a deli with healthy and tasty gourmet food. I used to tell myself, I will wait until I have a lot of spare cash to play with. But life always gets in the way – what if that never happened? So after my maternity leave, I decided to pursue my dream and I haven’t looked back.

How did you come up with the name?

Easy – I didn’t. I asked my creative genius of a friend, Anita Sales, to come up with a name that encompasses who I am and what I want to do. I sent her this request via whatsapp and (no jokes) 5 minutes later she had responded with 3 options and “Tastefully Mama T” was the first option. Like I said she’s a creative genius.

What role does God play in your life?

He is my life! I cannot bring out the best of myself as mother, wife, daughter, sister or friend without Him. I put Him at the centre of everything I do.

How long have you been operating?

I opened shop in February 2013.

What challenges did you face when you started and how did you overcome them?

The main challenge I have faced and am still facing is the balancing act between my personal life, career and the business. However my support system has been amazing so there have been less tears and more fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment, not necessarily financially but the pride of making a dream a reality.

Does your husband play an active role in the business other than Chief moral and emotional supporter?

Papa T plays a huge role in this business. Besides watching over our son while I attend to orders he has become my driver, my Marketing Director, Accountant, he manages TMT’s twitter account and he’s my official taster 🙂 Just to give you an idea of how involved he is – over the Easter long weekend I was catering for a family lunch. For their dessert they wanted a cheesecake carrot cake that has a cream cheese frosting. I decided to try out a new recipe for the cheese cream frosting at 10pm on a Saturday night, which went horribly wrong. Most shops weren’t open because of the Easter weekend but that didn’t fret Papa T. He simply said “relax I’ll make a plan” and that has been his motto throughout this whole buisness venture. And true to his word, he made a plan and the cake was delivered on time.

How has this venture changed you?

I think I’ve become less afraid of taking risks – working in a corporate job teaches you to become used to routine. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with routine, but being outside of my comfort zone has been refreshing and invigorating. I don’t have time to get bored as I’m constantly thinking about how to improve or evolve my business.

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How do you stay relevant and current? / What inspires your recipes?

I believe great food is timeless, no great chef out there has ever tried to change the essence of a Sunday Roast. This is what I try and do with food, I attempt to create timeless dishes that can be enjoyed by my children and their children. Food should bring families together because of the history behind a simple recipe.

What lessons have you learnt first about running a business?

If you don’t love what you’re doing then don’t do it.

If you’re in bed by 8pm every night then you’re doing something wrong.

And when you do go to bed and you’re not thinking or dreaming about new ideas for your business, then the chances of your business surviving beyond your generation is slim to none.

What is your vision for your business

Right now my main goal is to open up my deli, whatever happens beyond that will be a blessing.

If you knew the challenges you would face before embarking on this journey would you still have started Tastefully Mama T?

Yes definitely!! And I’m willing to go through those challenges over and over again because they have made me appreciate my family and friends, a good night’s rest and time management. I am confident and not afraid to say what I want or go after what I want. My challenges didn’t break me they made me.

What support network do you have other than Papa T ?

I’m blessed to have extremely supportive family and friends who have helped me since I started my business. My go to people are Papa T and my bestie, Shathiso Coyne. Shathiso has definitely been my emotional support system and my biggest cheerleader, urging me on when I thought I was going to throw in the towel. My confidence in baking came from when she encouraged me to make a gluten-free cheesecake which I thought I just couldn’t do. I cannot name everyone inidividually but I have loved ones who have listened to my ideas, referred clients to me, helped with babysitting and a million and one other things that are too numerous to mention.

As a wife and mother how do you get the balance right between, your day job, mummy, wife, CEO of home affairs and your business?

By being present and taking each role as it comes. This means when I’m with my son, nothing or no one else is important during this time. I don’t take work or business calls and I’m not thinking about the next order. The reason why people get stressed out is because they are constantly thinking of things they don’t have control over. Live in the present and enjoy the moment. This is a valuable lesson I learnt from Papa T, he never stresses about anything and I asked him why this is so and he simply said, “I’m here today, tomorrow hasn’t come.”

What advice would you give to women out there who have dreams of starting their own business?

The difference between you and a successful person is that they dared to make their dream a reality, don’t allow the fear of failure stop you from trying and never use your circumstances as an excuse for not taking the first steps to starting your business.

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Resident QF Tendayi Ndoro on Money Matters

There is a lot of talk on the importance of saving money, investing money, making money and more relevant to this post – women getting their finances in order. Hear from QF Resident Contributor and Life Coach Tendayi Ndoro on this week’s musing on Money Matters.

Life Coach Tendayi Ndoro

MONEY! MONEY! MONEY!  As the economic situation globally tightens up, it’s becoming increasingly important for savvy women to get their financial houses in order.  Sometimes that can mean a harsh and strict look at things and thereafter making tough decisions which are not always a comfortable procedure.  It’s time to look ahead of the game and instead of being reactive, being more proactive.  Understanding the difference between assets and liabilities is key and getting the balance right especially on being good to yourself is the first issue I am going to talk about.

I speak openly on this issue as this was a tough area for me and one that I still often have to battle with. Proverbs 20: 23 says “Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.”  Many of us are failing to get the balance right when it comes to financial priorities. A budget is key.  It needs to be a reasonable, balanced one that factors in the level of affordable fun that is possible on your income as well as taking care of the important things.  For most women the love of retail therapy to deal with any and all emotions has left a big dent in the finances until they are caught between a rock and a hard place. The scales are then tipped to the other extreme where one is forced to start spending everything they earn on paying bills and commitments!  No fun at all!  At that point they become so desperate that they start looking for the lottery god. They fall victim to many manipulative tactics that wolves out there are ready with, designed to convince many hard working individuals that if you give your whole salary /SEED away, you will be blessed and reap a harvest that you cannot contain!  This leads many to forget their financial commitments that they have been entrusted to pay including all the other responsibilities.  But you QF woman will no longer fall into this trap!  There is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and the first step towards getting to that place of freedom is writing what that looks like for you and deciding what you would need to do to get it.  How without earning any more money can you get to keep more each month?  Something has got to go?  You decide, what on that long list of outgoings is tipping your scale over?

A little from Tendayi about why she is so passionate on this topic…

When I was a toddler, I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up! I still feel my blood rush every time I see choreographed dancing and am usually the first one to hit the dance floor at a party.  It is however no surprise to me how I’ve ended up doing what I do!  My love for people and numbers and deep rooted desire to help everyone I come into contact with to achieve all that life has to offer them is what gets me through the highs and lows of a demanding and often gruelling financial services industry.  I trained to be a life coach a few years ago and this helped me understand how and why people behave in ways that is often so contrary to facilitating the manifestation to their hearts true desires.  This set off a flaming fire within me to play my role with the tools I have in my hand to enlighten and help those who were interested on embarking on this journey of freedom to do so.  Being a child of God, a scripture that has challenged me particularly in the realm that I work in is from Luke 4:18 which Jesus said:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

Having advised clients for over 10 years on investments, retirement planning, protection and mortgages, I began to realise that one of the most bodies that were walking the furthest in financial freedom were actually the body of Christ, who this scripture was proclaimed for. That did not sit right with me.  Needing to fully attain that freedom in all areas of my life as well, I began a personal journey with God to help me to open my eyes and see how I need to be walking to enjoy this FINANCIAL FREEDOM.  I now thrive on sharing the wisdom of the Bible’s take on how we are meant to manage our finances and help individuals take steps to back it up with practical tools and vehicles through my financial planning business.

 To learn more from Tendayi Ndoro – Motivational Speaker, Leader, Motivator and Author please visit her website on www.Tendayindoro.com