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financial bunny: the money makeover I wish I did sooner

SA TV personality Nicolette Mashile has been “sprinkling glitter around finance” as the Financial Bunny for 4 years. But even this property investor and financial educator had to start somewhere. Here, she shares what she wishes she had known sooner.

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Nicolette Mashile is co-host of the SABC1 talk show Daily Thetha, an actress on Generations and the founder of Financial Bunny, a platform she uses to teach financial literacy within the South African context.

“I registered Financial Bunny in 2017, but that part of my career actually started in 2016 when I left my corporate job,” she says. Up until that point Nicolette had failed her first degree after high school, moved in with her sister, gotten 2 other qualifications and bought her first investment property by coincidence.

“I saw the for-sale sign while I was jogging and decided to view the place. The price was good, it came with a paying tenant and I had enough savings to buy it cash.”

Today, she’s a millionaire with 5 investment properties in her portfolio. There is one thing, however, she wishes she’d done differently, and that’s start her financial education much earlier.


Why financial literacy?

Before she left her corporate job, Nicolette posted a video on Facebook about how she manages her money and it received a lot of interest. She soon realised the widespread need in South Africa for practical financial guidance.

“If you’re not a finance person, money can seem boring and difficult to understand, but it’s not. It’s part of our everyday decisions. Even what you pack in your lunch box to work – that’s a financial decision.

“A lot of people live pay cheque to pay cheque, because they grew up in a family where everyone is in debt. That’s not the norm, and it shouldn’t be. We’ve been socialised to believe we’re bad at money, but you can’t be bad at something you’ve never been taught.”

Nicolette doesn’t believe she’s especially good with money, but she had an opportunity to work and save as much as possible early on. “I’m very cautious with money, because I don’t know when it’s going to run out. I started wanting more and more, and I was willing to work until the wee hours. At one point I had 7 jobs.

“If I didn’t buy that first property, I would’ve found something else to spend that money on, because I just wanted it out of my account. Property seemed like the right investment to protect myself from materialism, instant gratification and spending money on frivolous things.”


What I wish I’d known sooner

“When I started doing research for my book, I spoke to my parents and I could not believe all the financial lessons they had that they could’ve shared with me much earlier.

“We’re so scared to talk about money with our parents, because we don’t want to seem rude. But there are decisions I could’ve avoided if I’d started having these conversations earlier.

“There’s definitely a disadvantage to not knowing any better. If I could go back and learn as much about money as I could, I wouldn’t have put all my money into property – I would’ve diversified investments. I also would’ve learnt about how to tap into compound interest with a simple savings account.”


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