Plan for these five things in 2017

-By Sunél Veldtman


Foundation Family Wealth is about “Wealth for life”. We help our clients to make their money last for their lives. We also want to help our clients use their wealth for their lives – to make their lives fulfilling. Wealth includes our time.

This article looks at the simple things we can do with our time and money to make us happier. Why happy? Well, we’ve lost the art of happiness. The research on happiness is unambiguous about the basics. They say: plan for these five things and you’ll be happier. Yet few people get these basics right.


Focus on your personal economy

With the world in turmoil, the most important knowledge is not the kind you get from CNN or The Economist. Knowing what’s happening in the world, might make you feel in control and/or make you an interesting dinner guest.

However, your financial future is helped very little by that information. In fact, it may cause fear and lead to actions that harm your portfolio.

You need to understand your personal economy. We can only control our own key personal metrics – our income and spending, how much we owe, and what we own. Although the state of financial markets will have an impact on these metrics, our own actions have a much bigger impact.

In the New Year, focus on what you can control. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know my key personal economy metrics?
  • How can I reduce spending? Spend only on that which you need and experiences that you value.
  • How can I earn more now and in the future? Are you being paid what you’re worth? Do you need a new job or career? Invest in yourself.
  • How can I build wealth? One of the ways in which you build wealth is by increasing your contributions to your retirement savings and investment vehicles. Start taking actions to reduce your debt.

By being in control, you will have less stress. You will be happier.



It is interesting that all major religions celebrate a day of rest each week. Post-religious modern society has disregarded these traditions. We are poorer for it.

We need rest for our health. We need rest to restore our creativity. We need rest for peak performance. We need rest to connect to people.

Make a resolution to set a day apart each week for rest. This day should include sleeping, feasting and gentle restorative activities. Gardening. Play music. Baking. Make new traditions or revive old ones.

One of the ways our family is resting involves lighting a fire on a late Sunday afternoon for a small braai. Nothing fancy. Just sitting around reconnecting and celebrating our wonderful summer’s evenings.

Rest also includes sleep. We don’t know how to sleep anymore. Sleep is essential for our health. Sleep is essential for our work. Switch off the screens and sleep.

Watch this video where Arianna Huffington talks about the importance of getting more zzz.



The leading cause of health problems is not poor diet, lack of exercise or environmental issues. The leading cause of health problems is loneliness.

Research published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science shows that loneliness can increase the likelihood of death by 26%. This is not only because of the obvious risk for mental illness. Loneliness depletes our immune systems, increases our risk for dementia and heart problems and leads to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Technology and housing trends are increasing the risk of loneliness. More people are living alone and behind high walls than ever before, and technology like texting and social media has made it easier to avoid forming real relationships.

Make time to connect. Start a hiking club or a wine appreciation society. Make regular dates with friends. Rediscover Sunday lunches.

If your life is too busy or too tiring to connect, think again.

Maybe you need to watch this video by cultural analyst Sherry Turkle.


Start moving

Sitting is the new tobacco.

This year I joined a walking group. We don’t walk particularly fast or far, but it has been a lifesaver. Not only am I getting fit but I’m realising that those chats are feeding my soul.

As an introvert, I have always favoured exercising on my own. It was me time. I am now addicted to the therapy of walking with other women.

Whatever you fancy, just start. Alternatively, try something new.

The feel good hormones released in our bodies while we exercise are essential for wellbeing.

Keep moving during the day. Get up from your desk and walk around. Do stretch exercises. Just keep moving.



My biggest new year’s resolution is to give back. I know that the research shows that giving (money and time) rather than receiving it – actually make us happier. Yet, other than in my immediate environment, I am not involved.

I plan to get involved somewhere. Somewhere where I am challenged. And where it will require sacrifice.

I hope you will join me in this challenge.


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