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How to Fix Your Finances like a Jag Mark 2

By Theesan Moodley, 22 October 2019

A few years back, Theesan Moodley, General Manager: Sanlam Financial Advisers, bought a 1968 Jaguar Mark 2. Or rather, the beginnings thereof. At the time, the forlorn vehicle had been sitting in a garage in pieces, untouched for 10 years.

Theesan committed to restoring it. With some planning, a great deal of passion and a very clear vision, he has created his vintage masterpiece. Restoring financial wellbeing is much like restoring a car – you’re in it for the long-run, it can be fulfilling and frustrating, and sometimes, you need to call in expert reinforcements.

Theesan believes restoring cars – and ‘restoring finances’ – comes down to three things, firstly, “It starts with a vision coupled with a passion to see it through, then you need to consider your capabilities and the areas where you may need help. Lastly, you need to commit to making continuous improvements in order to persevere. There will be tough days, where a part doesn’t fit, or the markets fall. That’s when you need to have grit to hold on.”

Theesan gives more detail on his tips for restoring cars – and financial health.

What Do You Want It to Do?

Before you commit to restoring a car, you need to have an end objective in mind. Are you doing it as a passion project, or do you want to resell it for a profit? Do you want it to be original, or would you like to build a resto-mod? That has huge sway over which car you pick. Likewise, when it comes to your finances, you need to know what you want at a granular level. What are you saving for? What are your goals? Have a plan in place for how you’ll achieve these.

Dodge the Rabbit Hole of Restoration

Restoring a car could become an endless project; and it’s often difficult to know what to prioritise. I started by getting the car running before turning to the more cosmetic issues… so the engine, carburettors and suspension got my initial attention. It was about having the foundation in place. It’s the same for your finances. Get the basics right first. And then keep your eye on the goal.

Get Help When You Need It

I knew I didn’t have the skills to hand-stitch the seats or to replace the carpets. So, I outsourced these tasks to trusted professionals who I knew would increase the value of the vehicle. Regarding money matters, there are some things you may feel confident sorting out yourself but there are other aspects where assistance will probably prove extremely valuable. At your current age, what do you need to save per annum to retire comfortably? Are you on track? Complex questions like these can call for advice from a trusted financial adviser for absolute peace of mind.

You Need the Right Tools

I didn’t have all the specialist tools required to complete all the tasks, like replacing the wheel bearings. It’s a task that calls for absolute precision and one should not take a short cut on something so important. The same can be said for much of your financial wellbeing. You need the right tools at your disposal to make the correct decisions. If you don’t have these tools, it’s generally a better option to outsource. Again, that’s where a financial adviser can assist.

Make Compromises

I wanted all 72 spokes of my rims to be individually chromed, but I could not find this service locally. I would have had to ship the wheels to the UK, at an exorbitant cost. So, I compromised and cleaned the wheels meticulously instead. Finances also demand trade-offs. For example, to reach your financial goals, sometimes you may need to save more, or work for a longer time. Alternatively, you may have to tweak some of your goals slightly. We’re always making these decisions. Just make sure they’re the right ones.

Have a Timeline but Be Flexible

Selling a classic car is also something that takes careful consideration and an evaluation of the current market conditions – and the same goes for money matters. You may need to adjust your timeline and actions against market conditions. The value of an asset doesn’t always appear when you want it to – and you need to plan for that.

Maintenance Is Key

When it comes to restoration, the job’s never done. I always have an electrical charger in the garage to keep the battery full. The brakes need regular tweaking… the list goes on. You need to do regular ‘maintenance’ to your finances too – for example, are your retirement contributions keeping up with inflation each year? Regular reviews of your financial plan, perhaps once a year, can help you stay on track.

Push Through the Tough Times

There have been icy winter days when I’ve been under the Jaguar in a miserably cold garage, battling with a bolt. And I’ve wanted to pack it in. Most times, it helped to stop, take a break and start again. And that’s what it’s all about. Giving yourself an opportunity to gain perspective and remind yourself why you’re on this journey. It doesn’t take two weeks to restore a car. Similarly, creating a financial plan and reaching your key financial milestones can take some time and commitment – but when you see the fruits of your labour, even just one small victory at a time, it really is worth the energy.

Remember, at the end of the day, if you’ve put all the right pieces in place, your masterpiece will certainly be something to behold.


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