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Idols Winner Opens Up About Money Matters Post The Competition

Life changes when you are an Idols winner. You find that your bank balance suddenly swells, bringing home the fact that life will never be the same and that peoples’ expectations of you will change with your new social standing.

These two realities were born home to Zama Khumalo, who walked away with the Idols 2020 title and entered a life that couldn’t be anticipated while competing in South Africa’s favourite talent extravaganza.

As the curtain prepares to go down on the 2021 competition, Zama says the winner should focus on doing the best for himself or herself. Above all, she says, the temptation to fulfil rash promises involving money made to friends and family should be avoided.

Speaking to John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual, about her win and the financial changes it brought, Zama said that as a new young artist, she was now facing new career challenges that are presently being cushioned by her winnings.

“The money came when I needed it most. My dad is temporarily employed, and the winnings meant I could help my family and become financially independent.” However, she added when responding to Manyike, this also meant finding a financial balance. 

Helping her achieve this balance has been a financial adviser who helped with investment and savings advice and helped put a personal financial plan in place.

 “I am trying to be smart with my money and think that buying property is the smartest thing that I can do at this stage.  

I am thinking about buying an apartment as I will then be investing in my future rather than making a landlord rich.”


“As a person who comes from a humble home, I don’t just spend money. I spend only when it is important, and my first purchase was some furniture.  

I think I have a good relationship with money, and my only real weakness is spending more than I should on food.” 

Notably, she says, she and her partner have an open relationship when it comes to money and its use.

“We talk about money all the time and discuss saving and what we would like to do and achieve when we earn more.”

Now signed with a label, she is experiencing the hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. She has been denied the opportunity of performing live and boosting her visibility and income.

While working on an album, she is also exploring opportunities offered by social media and particularly the ability to generate income on YouTube as an alternative way to boost her income.

Responding to Manyike’s questions about money lessons she has learned, Zama says she understands that:

  • Planning your finances is essential, as it is easy to spend and then regret the decisions that you have made. 
  • When you are in your 20’s you should save as much money as you can so you can enjoy it later in life. 
  • Spending on unnecessary items should be avoided. 
  • Money doesn’t change the person you are it changes the people around you who expect you to be generous with your money to their benefit.  

For most of the ‘Top 10 ‘contestants in Idols 2021, Zama’s understanding and respect for money is something they admit they still must learn.

Responding to a snap survey conducted by Manyike during a recent On the Money session on the Idols set, most revealed that they are ‘spenders’ who find it difficult to control money which seems to slip away as it enters their wallets and purses.

The financial lessons they identified as the most important during the session was to understand the difference between saving and investing- the one being short-term, the other long-term and the benefits of not being seduced by fame, which would not last forever.

“The lesson that applies to us all and not just Idols is that taking wise money decisions today will pay off handsomely in the future,” says Manyike. 

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