By: Blessing Ayemhere CFA
We are all born with desires and aspirations in life. As we make our journeys through the chronicles of active living, we must be deliberate about our actions and decisions for they shape and define who we are and who we will become. In fact, we are a full representation of our yesterday’s decisions and actions.
In this article, we will give attention to one of the critical factors that has a significant impact on our wellness, our view and perception of life and living – Our Finances!
Come to think of it, finance does not exist if we don’t. Money is only relevant as long as it serves as a means of exchange. Imagine having so much money which you can’t access or spend, it becomes useless; unless you are the type that takes pleasure in just stocking cash without generating value or putting it to use even in meeting immediate and family needs. Similarly, not having money to spend when the need to solve problems or resolve challenges arise is not a pleasant experience either. It can sometimes be demeaning.
We must understand that money flows in the direction of value. Anyone that acquires money without exchanging his/her time, experience, expertise, goods or services has a high tendency to mismanage it. For those that are working, you may say you currently exchange your time, skills and expertise in return for pre-agreed salaries and allowances. Money is called currency which means it has current; current is that which flows toward a guided direction. In a nutshell, you are the one that will guide the flow of money in or out of your control. It might be useful to take a critical look at the direction of money in and out of your family in the past 12 months and see if you can adequately capture as well as match your income to your expenses. Have you ever done this exercise?
There must be congruence between you, your finance and your future. The circle of flow must be harnessed and channeled aright, otherwise, you find yourself always on the insufficiency-bracket.
Let’s look at a few tips that will help us understand the flow of money around us:
We are a sum total of our upbringings. Family, educational/academic, social, religious, work etc. The way we were brought up or how we grew up influences our money perception. The way we see and handle money today could be traced back to our understanding of how money should be handled and what it means to us today – our backgrounds. If you grew up in an affluent family, your understanding and handling of money will largely be influenced by the same way you saw your parents or guardians do, unless something dramatic happens to your thinking or you deliberately decide to alter that mind-set. If you grew up in a family where eating-out once in a while was norm, you are likely going to want to eat out and that will affect how you spend some of your money; but if you grew up in a family that never ate-out (except when you attended functions like naming ceremonies, birthdays, burial etc) you are likely going to be more resistant to spending money in the same way, same goes for other activities as well. If your family or warden were financially prudent, you may also have the tendency to be prudent. Conversely, you could put up a resistant disposition to deliberately go contrary to what you saw growing up because you didn’t like it, be it good or bad.
What is informing your current view of money today? It may be useful to look back and see where your background influence is holding you captive and do something about it.
Peer pressure/social influence
Many of us are inadvertently running another man’s race today. We are controlled by what our colleagues, neighbour, church members, classmate etc. are doing that we also think we should do. We are not careful enough to think about the fact that though we may be colleagues, but our salaries are different, likewise the kind of support we receive from our spouses may be different. Some may also have inherited assets that have given them a leveraged start whilst you may not have. So, in other to show that we belong, we borrow, or even try to cheat or take what does not rightfully belong to us. It will be useful to understand the fact that we are not in competition with anybody. Even if we were born twins, we all have our destiny and purpose in life to fulfill. If we can be diligent and focused on our jobs, improve ourselves and be patient, the opportunity to enjoy affluence will certainly increase and eventually materialize.
Lack of financial intelligence
Most people live without drawing up a systematic plan for their lives and future. In fact, their plan is that they have no plan. They just take the day as it comes. They believe that somehow, each day will produce what is needed to survive. That may be the reason why some people are merely surviving and any structural change in their finances in the short term brings so much pressure and untold hardship on them. It is wisdom to know that changes in the economy of nations dates back to history in the bible days. It will always happen that countries experience cyclical fortunes, so is the financial wellbeing of everyone living in the countries at the time. The way to avoid financial tsunami is to get financially intelligent. Plan your finances. How much do you earn, how much are your expenses, how much savings do you need to have on monthly basis in case of emergencies, unplanned loss of job, retirement, delay in salaries and allowance etc. A situation where you cannot survive one month if your regular inflow is delayed may be calling for you to get more financially intelligent.
Lack of congruence
Does your life style match your aggregate family income? If your sincere answer is no, something must be amiss. There should be congruence between your life, your finance and your future. “What you are is what attracts the material equivalent of what you have”. Your life, the value you have added and then, the value you can add to others including your job and place of work. If you are feeling big on the inside and the outside is not in alignment, then there is something you may have to change about your outlook so you are ready to attract that feeling you have on your inside. It may be your commitment to what you currently do, your general approach to life; are you the person that regularly throws up your hands in the air, it might be an indication of un-seriousness. You know the interesting thing? Tomorrow will come and it’s not going to come empty handed, it’s coming with the report card of your current labour, effort, dedication, knowledge, planning, discipline and the like. The interesting thing is that today may not look like it, but what is most important is how certain are you that your effort and approach to life will land you a better meal ticket tomorrow? Don’t you think it will be useful to find out why your outlook is not aligning with your inner perception? Because you may be thinking you don’t matter but everyone around you thinks differently, they think you matter and can take up more responsibilities; “responsibility and productivity are keys to increased financial inflow”. The earlier you start aligning your plan today for a more productive and energised living, the closer you may just be to that financially enhanced life. Take that training, learn that skill, be more ready to give than to receive and be happy with each day and task that comes your way.
Living above ones means
I often hear people say “the money is not enough, the money is not enough”; it will interest you to know that money can never be enough. This is because, the more money you earn, the higher the tendency to raise your standard of living. Instead of a regular shoe, with more money in your hand, you see branded fashions. In the past, you don’t pay attention to Gucci product because you know you can’t afford it, but now… Please don’t get me wrong, if you can afford the good things of life irrespective of the brand and make, please go ahead and enjoy it, it is good to enjoy after labour. My emphasis here is allowing yourself slip into a situation where you are now borrowing or eroding your savings to buy things that are not necessities. Living in an accommodation that will cost you more than half of your salary, or putting your children in a school that your income can’t pay for. What about, going on holiday you can’t support; all in the name of “I want to belong”. While you may be able to work around it for some time, the resultant consequence is that you will either start borrowing excessively, or not being able to save for the rainy day from your monthly takings. Any life style that does not allow you deliberately and consciously save at least 10% of your salaries monthly is injurious, counterproductive, adverse, damaging and deleterious to say the least.
I strongly advise you take the bold step of ensuring you understand your financial circumstances and be in control as much as possible of your future by simply putting in place workable plan(s) that align with your financial reality.