Ronel Talks Money: Mariandra Heunis
Many households are dependent on the income of both partners. Other households depend on the income of a single person. What if your or your partner’s income fall away? Are you prepared if something like that has to happen? Will you be able to survive? These are tough questions but it is a hard reality and with everything currently happening around the world, this will be something more and more households have to deal with.
In this week’s ‘Ronel Talks Money’ interview, I am talking to Mariandra Heunis. It became a cruel reality for Mariandra, when her husband and the breadwinner, Johann Heunis was murdered in October 2016. Mariandra was 36 weeks pregnant with their fourth child at the time of his death. Apart from the emotional trauma of losing a partner, she also had to deal with the financial burdens of no longer receiving the income the family depended on. In this interview Mariandra shares more about her biggest financial fears, how to become financially independent and how to take care of four children on a single income. Mariandra also started her own business to provide for her beautiful children. An inspiring story of an inspiring woman proving that there is hope at the end of every tunnel despite how dark, fearful, devastating and traumatic it is.
Name and surname:
Profession / title / business:
Owner of Sonja Smith Funeral Group Midstream franchise / Life Coach / NLP Practitioner / Grief counsellor
How would you describe yourself?
I am ambitious, hard working. But I believe the work you focus your energy on, should be a calling, a passion. Sacred. I am fun loving and choose to see the positive side of every situation and life in general.
Tell us about your career / business?
I have started working as a Funeral Planner right after my husband passed away. I found my calling. I am now the owner of the Midstream franchise and living out that calling to the full. I am also a certified Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Grief counsellor. I have walked the path of picking yourself up and putting a life back together. I have walked the path of trauma and of grief. Thus, I have made it a mission to help others.
What do you consider your proudest achievements / highlights?
My children. Definitely my children. All four of them. I am a motivational speaker and I feel very proud to assist others with the skills I have.
What was your biggest failure or lowest point in your career?
I would say that the death of my husband derailed my entire life, not only career. So I had to start from scratch.
How did you get back up after failure?
Well, it was lists. Lists of lists. Day for day. Taking small steps in the right direction. I believed in a good life and I worked for it. I had a year of YES. Where I literally said yes to each and every opportunity that crossed my path. Sometimes I honestly did not feel like doing so, but I pushed through. And just by doing that, came far. Opened up new opportunities, connections etc. It takes hard work. Goals. Prayer. And sometimes we just wing it.
We never think that such a drastic, traumatic change can happen to us, until it does. You are then left with a bag of shattered pieces of the life you once knew. And the responsibility to put it all back together…You have to start over. Nothing in this life is guaranteed…
Let’s talk money:
How would you describe your money mind-set?
I am blessed to being able to cover my expenses. But my mindset is one of abundance. I believe in the law of attraction. So a good mindset towards it is vital. I deserve to be financially free, wealthy. I choose abundance. I speak it. And I work for it. That said, I do not spend randomly. But sometimes it is necessary to just live. Life is very short.
What was your biggest discovery about money?
That there is always opportunity to make more money. It is endless. You only have to accept it. Be open for opportunities. Budget. And work.
What is your view about the importance of budgeting and do you have a budget?
I do have a budget. But for expenses such as groceries and school ad-hoc expenses it becomes hard to plan for as the 4 children have different requirements and needs. For groceries, I have a budget, but I adjust is as the month proceeds. I do think it is important to have a baseline to work from. You have to be logical and practical when it comes to spending.
What is your view about having an emergency fund?
I feel it is important to have. Speaking from a perspective where my husband passed away unexpectedly, suddenly, traumatically – we had nothing to start with. Things had to still take place. I had to plan a funeral, give birth to our fourth child, find new schools for the children, new home etc. It is definitely important to have an emergency fund. Life happens while you were making other plans.
Do you believe there is merit in being financially well organised – have all your policies in place, have a life file and a signed will etc.?
I do. Definitely. Also related to the loss of my husband – we did not have it all in place. I had to start over. With nothing but my 4 children. So my view on it is as follows: In the case that I pass away, I have to be sure that my children will be taken care of. Death does not make an appointment. Tomorrow is promised to no one. That is a fact. In my work I see it frequently. You do not want to leave the financial burden on your family in a time when they are emotionally highly stressed, grieving and at a loss. It is a real reality.
Becoming Financially Idenependent: 1. Create an income. 2. Open a bank account where you can keep and manage your money. 3. Sit with your partner and discuss finances. 4. Think about savings – life insurance. 5. Have a signed testament as well as a Life File. It takes hard work to be independent. But totally do-able.
Let’s talk about the financial burdens when a partner’s income fall away, becoming financially independent and starting a new business
Mariandra your life changed from being happily married expecting your fourth child to being a widow, the only breadwinner and a single parent having to look after four small children. And it literally changed within seconds. What is your message to people who believe something like that won’t happen to them?
We never think that such a drastic, traumatic change can happen to us, until it does. You are then left with a bag of shattered pieces of the life you once knew. And the responsibility to put it all back together. However, I have found that you can’t put back together the old life. You have to start over. Build a new normal. Nothing in this life is guaranteed. You never know what the night, the next day could bring, or take away.
Trauma is a harsh reality many people in South Africa face and often they don’t receive trauma counselling because of the costs involved. Is there any financial assistance that people can consider?
Our country is riddled with trauma. And we think it is not necessary to seek help. However, I strongly suggest so. To unpack the trauma is so important. There are real triggers, flashbacks, nightmares, fears etc and it all manifests in your health, your mindset, emotions etc. There are certainly some medical aids that have a Trauma benefit. It is worth while to look into it. As I see it, seeking assistance for your mental health should be considered the same as going to your GP for a cold.
When your husband was murdered, what was your initial and biggest financial fear?
Definitely uncertainty. We had no income – I was now responsible for everything – it is very scary and overwhelming. Life goes on. It never stops, even when your life was ripped to pieces. So definitely the uncertainty.
If you could have changed something that would have reduced the financial stress on you during this traumatic time, what would it have been?
If I could have changed anything, it would probably be to have financial plans in place (life insurance, policies etc). It would have made a huge difference.
There are plenty of women in South Africa who are fully dependent on their partners financially. If a woman comes to you saying that she wants to become financially independent but doesn’t know where and how to start, what will your advice to her be?
I would commend her for the decision. It is not a bad thing to be fully dependant on your partner, but in that case, do make sure you are familiar with what is in place, the basics – as simple as login details, passwords etc. It could make a world of difference. But to start a road to financial independence you need to have a few things in place – 1. An income. 2. A bank account where you can keep and manage your money. 3. Sit with your partner, discuss responsibilities (who pays for what) and action it as such. 4. Think about savings – life insurance. 5. Make sure you have a signed testament in place and you may want to have a look at our Life File (refer to free life file download from Sonja Smith Funeral Group on link above). It takes hard work to be independent. But totally do-able. Also, if you have set goals (in this case financial goals), whatever they would be, remember to reward yourself if you achieve them. Goal – Action – Reward.
Apart from having to deal with your personal trauma and trying to rebuild a new life for yourself and your family, you have the responsibility to ensure that your children are taken care of financially. What tips do you have for people in a similar situation?
The responsibility of caring for 4 children alone is a big one. But, so far, 3.5 years later, we are doing it. Tips to care for them financially. 1. Budget, carefully plan what is bare necessities, what is extra needed expenses, luxuries 2. Accept help – check how the school can assist you by applying for Government subsidies 3. Do scale down – live within your means. My view on this was to keep baseline expenses as low as possible until I have grown financially strong enough to level up. 4. Believe that you deserve to live an abundant life.
You have also started a business. What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome those challenges?
The challenges were to manage my time – divide my focus and balance marketing, running of the business along with the backside admin and recordkeeping. I do believe it is a fine balance. And to get creative on marketing an industry that no one really wants to think about.
What money lessons are you teaching your children?
I have opened up a savings account for each of them. I do reward them for work done and it goes in their savings accounts. I am trying to teach them the same principles I live by – money is temporary, but we need to be clever to not run out of it. So I always ask them the question when it comes to spending – will this bring you joy now? Do you really need it? Is it something you can keep for a period or time, or is it a once-off short term reward. They have learnt along with me to budget, that we need to plan for the unexpected. And they know that we may ask anything we desire, it is never impossible. But, that we have to then put the work in and save up for it. I also teach them that they have to be independent when it comes to finances. Little girls sometimes say, oooh one day I will marry a rich man. My husband will give me this, that etc. I teach them to achieve those things for themselves. Find a husband to build on that with them. And live a happy, balanced life.
To connect with Mariandra Heunis
- Facebook: @mariandraheunis
- Instagram: Mariandra.heunis
- LinkedIn: Mariandra Heunis