HomeSmart MoneyFrom R350 000 debt to R5million net worth

From R350 000 debt to R5million net worth

Lifestyle and Tech sat with Marnita Opperman of Mindful Money Coach,who in just seven years managed to pull herself completely out of debt to achieving a net worth of R5 million.

What set you on a path of the pursuing financial freedom? 

In my early thirties I found myself in a dire situation where on the surface life looked perfect – I had my ideal job as an accountant at one of the big four accounting firms, cool looking car and beautiful clothes but I was up to my head deep in debt of over R350 000.

I was so ashamed to even talk about it because I’d been in this situation some years earlier and was helped by a member of my family.  But this time it was so bad that 70% of my salary was going towards my credit cards, personal loans, and clothing accounts.

It was May 2015 when it suddenly dawned on me that being rescued by family was no longer a viable option and I had to take full responsibility for being in this sticky situation.

So, what was the first step and how did you know it was the right one? 

I signed up for debt review.  That journey was so scary for me because I was scared my employer was going to find out.  There I was shining at work as this amazing accountant putting in place great budgeting and cashflow systems for our clients yet, but I struggled to manage my own money.   For a long time, I felt a like a fraud.

Though I knew debt review would be expensive in the long run, I figured the cost of not having an accountability structure in place would be far higher.  It was a six-year long journey of commitment and discipline, which I was able to reduce to 3 total.

Whilst I was sticking to my monthly payments – I intuitively knew my problem was deeper.  I used shopping to fix a pain or fill a void – very much like a drug addiction.

Wow, and how did you deal with such a big self-diagnosis?

I had the fancy budgets and all this knowledge, but I was a compulsive and impulsive spender it was time to be honest with myself.

So, I acknowledged I had a problem.   And then I searched for help, but I knew I had to find the right kind of help – one that could help me address mental and emotional issues relating to my money issues.

I was introduced to Donna McCallum’s Money Magic coaching program – I resonated with its principles and what it promised so I signed up (yes, using a credit card😊) and that was the beginning of my empowerment and developing a conscious relationship with money.

You mentioned you’d done other money coaching programs – what made the difference this time? 

Donna’s program advocated for saving while slogging through monthly payments laid out by debt rescue whilst prior, I had been advised by a financial advisor that it’s better to finish debt first before you can start to save. And that approach hadn’t worked for me.

I started out with saving a R100 per month – that’s all I could afford.  Within three months of starting my savings I was able to increase my savings to 10% of my net salary because I was living an overall thrifty lifestyle – I’d cut down on eating out all the time and I’d taken up a challenge to not buy a new clothing or other material items in 200 days.  This also showed me how instant gratification had been affecting my spending habits.

So, how exactly did you build up your portfolio to R5million net worth in just eight years?  

I worked vigorously on my mindset towards money and wealth because I had discovered that I had hidden scarcity beliefs that drove my addiction to spending.

I redirected money from frivolous spending towards my newfound hobby – information and education on around money.  Money became friend and an important part of my life.

I also did an investment course, I read books on tax-free investing even before I could afford to invest.  In my quest for this information, I got particularly excited about tax incentives which I used to fast track my ability to invest.

But what exactly was your strategy?

I surrendered to the idea of starting small, as I mentioned earlier.  By the time I finished paying off my debt and got my credit record cleared – I had a sizeable savings.  This savings buffer made me feel secure, and then I started investing in a Pension Fund followed by Tax Free EFT’s (Electronically Traded Funds and property.

What was important for me was that I kept to the principles and the simple yet effective system that had gotten me out of debt as a foundation.

I built up my net worth by…

  • having multiple income streams,
  • A full-time accounting job which pays all the bills
  • Purchasing rental properties
  • Acquiring Tax incentive investments
  • Coaching others as a Mindful Money Coach.

From being a compulsive spender to being a money coach, how? 

When positive results of the work I’d put became visible in my life, friends, relatives and other people around me started asking me for advice and I was very excited to share the bit I had learned.

Eventually I decided to formalise it by attending a course with the Institute for Money Coaches in the US.  I now have several clients who are now debt free and are well on their financial freedom – having money work for them.

What’s final advice to anyone who is feeling stuck in the cycle of debt? 

The important thing is to start by paying attention to your words about money and/or wealth because this tells you what your thoughts are about it.  No matter how tough your situation is, avoid complaining about money, the lack of it, being a victim of it.  Words create and affirm – so be careful what you are creating without even realising it.   Beyond that, set a clear intention about your desired financial situation and seek the right help to guide your through the journey.


Ndumi Hadebe is the author of Handle Black Tax Like – Setting Boundaries, Improving Relationships and Achieving freedom. 

With more than a decade of corporate experience and another as an entrepreneur, she lives her passion through her coaching business, Kwande Consulting – where she and a team of specialist- coaches support corporate teams and executives with coaching programs that are geared towards bridging efficiency and productivity gaps. 

She’s also a facilitator and speaker on topics such as Boundaries = Self-Love, Boundaries for Productivity, Boundaries for Goals and Handling Black Tax Like a