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Back to basic budgets

Go-getter, driven and family man are just a few choice words to characterise Hillcrest’s finance guru Justin Harrison. With his wit, money smarts and the need to help others, his recently launched YouTube channel, Global Money Academy, which helps individuals with financial advice, is skyrocketing in popularity.

With a wake-up call of 3.30am each morning, Justin humorously characterizes and compares the time schedule in his household to that of the army’s. With his wife Andrea, an entrepreneur and children’s book author, their work is cut out at home with a happy, healthy and busy brood to take care of, and a full time business to run. Add in a YouTube channel to nurture, and life’s busy. But Justin places great emphasis on giving special attention to all areas of his life.

His main business, My Credit Status, sees him give individuals advice on how to improve and maintain a healthy credit score. ‘Every consumer has a credit score and you need to have a good or above average score to access finance and rental properties or any instance where you are financially vetted. Generally speaking, you should be in the 600s. It’s a very complex thing, and what we have done is decode it into steps that people must take to increase their individual scores.’
Justin’s finance journey started in 2008, and he’s a figurative fountain of knowledge when it comes to anything finance related. ‘The average consumer never really had any access to their credit score before, and most people would only end up finding out they had a bad credit score when they went to apply for something.’

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Seeing the financial effects the coronavirus was having on people, Justin came up with the idea to affect positive change, and together with his five business partners, they brought to life the YouTube channel, Global Money Academy.
‘While we can’t see personal profile data, we could see that people were taking micro loans and second bonds, so we sat down and had deep conversations. People were – and some still are – sitting at home, and are privy to the constant negativity that fills the social media realm when it comes to the pandemic. We wanted to be a beacon of light.’

Photo by Lara Baker

It began with a simple newsletter and more than 4 500 people signed up within the first month. ‘We then talked about taking it further and giving people tangible advice they could action. Traditional financial advice usually comes from a top down approach, and we wanted to avoid this.’

From offering simple advice to people during lockdown, such as changing their insurance plans to investments, the channel has grown in leaps and bounds and has more than 4 000 subscribers and almost 150 000 views across its videos.

‘What’s so surprising to me is that it gave me such renewed hope in our country as we don’t realise how entrepreneurial we are. Almost every single mom has some side hustle going on. Each person who lost their job has gone out there and found a way to make an income for their families. Before posting any video or piece of advice, we first ask ourselves if this will help people become better citizens.
‘I get a lump in my throat, as it truly is a privilege to have found this outlet through which we can give advice and guide people through very difficult situations.’
Justin firmly believes that it is the simplest advice that gives viewers the biggest bang, and has helped bring people back to basics.

‘Every house needs to have a budget and every family member needs to buy into and commit to it. During this time, communities, business partners and families need to come together. In uncertain times, people look for certainty. Now people are making decisions on how to make the little money they have work for them.’
With a full day carved out each day, Justin never fails to ensure he sets aside enough times to dedicate to his family, and a bonus is a little ‘me-time’.

‘As a family we live for water sports and outdoor living. In particular we LOVE to surf and spearfish, and both my wife and daughter, 10-year-old Kateland, are active in both sports. We cannot wait for the boys – David, who’s almost two and our three-month old Andrew – to be old enough to join us in our salty adventures.’

When he isn’t filming YouTube videos, helping clients, working furiously behind his laptop, studying neuroscience or writing another book, to add to the six he completed during lockdown last year, you’ll find Justin and his clan camping, spending time in the outdoors or hitting the 4×4 trails in their family Jeep affectionately known as PG. Otherwise it’s just Justin at the ocean, a quiet place where he finds the chance to disconnect.

Details: You can checkout Justin’s YouTube channel at: youtube.com/global moneyacademy

Justin Harrison’s top become-more-money-savvy tips

MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS Money is 99 per cent emotion, and because people are driven by emotion they act irrationally when it comes to money. Learn to control your emotions by always doing a wants vs needs assessment on everything you buy. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

PRACTICE DELAYED GRATIFICATION We get a dopamine hit every time we purchase something we want. As a result, we often buy things we don’t need. A great way to undo this behaviour pattern is to shop online and only checkout of your online cart a few days later. Most people, when reviewing their cart at a later stage, find that they eliminate up to 40 per cent of their ‘emotional’ purchases.

NEVER SHOP ON AN EMPTY STOMACH Most people don’t realise the impact of their environment on their financial behaviour. A great example of this is that people, who go grocery shopping on an empty stomach spend 30 per cent more at checkout than those who don’t. Control your environment to control your spending.

BUDGET LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT Most people dislike the idea of budgeting because they have been sold the idea that it is about restricting yourself. In reality, budgeting allows you to save money so that you can invest and increase your net worth. Changing the narrative will give you the motivation to succeed. Treat budgeting like a fun game. See how much you can save, and you’ll undo most of your destructive financial behaviour.

BE SMART WITH DEBT While many people are successful at avoiding debt, this is not realistic for most people. The best thing you can do is to make sure you get the best finance deals and terms by actively managing your credit score and making sure that you never borrow more than you can afford.

WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE It’s human nature to focus on the future, but this often lands us in trouble because we spend money we don’t have right now. Instead of running up your credit card or store account with the intention of repaying it in the future, spend only what you have in cash and go without when you don’t have.

EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE Being strict with your budget, and sticking to all the rules will only get you so far. Figuring out how to get more for your money comes down to being prepared to negotiate and hustle. The less money you have, the more you need to learn to negotiate. And everything is negotiable.

BECOME AN INVESTOR Most people delay investing because they feel they don’t earn enough or they prioritise other things in life ahead of investing. The only way to change this is to set aside a fixed percentage of income every month and treat your income as if that money does not exist. No matter how much you earn, you should be setting aside a minimum 10 percent every month.

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