- What has changed since the campaign began 15 years ago?
The SASI July National Savings Month was launched as it is around 2008, what has changed is that from being a SASI initiative, July is now widely accepted as Savings Month. The broader financial services community has embraced our concept and South Africa now actually takes time to take stock of it’s savings behavior every July specifically. SASI does however run campaigns all year round and not just in July. Our other key period is a Festive Season campaign from October to January every year. All our initiatives are however dependent on donor and partner support as a Non Profit Company and SASI is always seeking new partnerships.
- From your research and experience, what’s preventing South Africans from saving?
South Africa is a consumer driven economy. The need and desire for instant gratification and satisfaction far exceeds the future plans of most consumers. This is largely a result either of lack of financial education or awareness, or the heavy media around consumerism we face daily. Another saving challenge is so-called black tax, however, this can often again be overcome by financial education. Saving and investing by in large is all about willpower. Like losing weight, many South Africans still lack the willpower to save. However, a tough economy often forces many people to reconsider and start saving , just as a doctors warning on the dangers obesity affects a person’s eating habits. We prefer people to however choose to save than have it as an emergency measure.
- What age groups which struggle the most with savings? Or is it a general South African problem? Any stats in this regard?
There are no stats to this regard I can readily rely on but older people tend to save more as they approach retirement. This is because they are aware of impending income loss. However, the savers best friend is time and saving is ideally suited to young people. It is better to start early than leave it late. It is however better to start late than never start at all.
- What is new in this year’s campaign and anniversary?
The theme this year for Savings month is simply “Celebrating Savers and Savings”. SASI will discuss the current successes in Savings and evolution over the last 15 years.
SASI are moving away from more negative messaging such as “South Africans can’t save or Are Not Saving” to exploring positive savings behavior reinforcement messages. SASI also celebrated organizations and individuals who have excelled in educating and empowering South Africans to save over the last 15 years.
- Any concrete plan in place to drive the message home so it achieves the desired result?
We hope to get savings testimonies and share successful savers. This is because when people see real examples of success it tends to hit home that it can be done. This is opposed theory based education which often many people resist. This is the same reason many people enjoy reality television. This with positive reinforcement messages we hope will yield better results. SASI is also re engaging the wider financial services community as it seeks new partnerships to promote savings and demonstrate that it is possible.