Posted on October 25, 2018
Author of Practical Steps to Financial Independence and business and finance coach, Usiere Uko, writes on how one’s monthly expenses can foretell the financial future
I feel sad each time I come across folks, especially parents running from pillar to post trying to raise money to pay for what they cannot afford. The situation is worse when it is a recurrent expenditure like rent or school fees. There is no end in sight – until the child graduates. As you try to repay current debts, the next bill is just ahead. It is like being buffeted by ocean waves at the beach. When you beg, borrow or steal to pay the current bill, you have no idea where the money for the next bill will come from. When will you give yourself a break?
Financial pressure can make you age prematurely. It hangs over you like a dark cloud following you wherever you go. You find it hard to concentrate at work, sleep well and often dream of your troubles at night. There is virtually no hiding place. Having no clue what to do is not a good place to be. You find yourself telling the story of your life to others in a bid to ask for a loan – a loan you are not sure you will be able to pay. When your back is to the wall, you are ready to tell any story and make all sorts of promises to get what you want. You end up making promises you cannot keep, dragging your credibility in the mud in the process. This means there are fewer people to go to for help next time.
It is about our choices
It took a decision to get yourself into that pressure cooker. It will also take a decision to get yourself out; it is a matter of choice.
I got a call from an acquaintance a couple of days ago asking for help. She was under tremendous financial pressure and did not know what to do or who to turn to. She needed money to process her 16-year-old son’s school admission into a university.
She was able to get some help but it was not enough. To inspire me to chip in, she listed those who had given so far. I have long passed that stage where I am moved to give. It is either I have or I don’t. If I have, it is my decision to give, not public opinion.
I told her gently that I was not in a position to assist financially, which was true. However, I could offer her something more than the money she was looking for. I told her that at 16, the son was too young to enter a university. He should be in Senior Secondary III in high school. If he is on the fast track, he needs to take a year gap to grow up. While waiting, he can get a job to learn how to earn and manage money and save towards university.
I didn’t discourage her from further fundraising (so as not to be seen as an enemy of progress) but pointed out that if she could not raise the money, she should take it as a sign that it was not yet time for her son to enter the university. Nobody cares who graduates first or the age you graduated. Life is a marathon, not a hundred meters dash. What matters is doing with excellence what you were born to do and making a trans-generational impact in the process. Getting your child into the university prematurely or attending one you cannot afford is not worth putting your mental health at risk.
Most financial pressure is self-inflicted
Most of the financial pressure we put ourselves under is self-inflicted. It could be due to poor planning or embarking on projects we cannot afford. Why we pull such stunts are due to reasons best known to us. It could be an issue of misplaced priorities or a question of what others would think.
I remember trying to counsel a colleague some years ago. Her hair was turning grey prematurely due to pressure from a horde of creditors. She had made up her mind her sons must school in the United States. She was ready to borrow from everyone on the payroll to make this happen. I cornered her one day and asked her why. She said she does not see the difference between her and others that send their children to school abroad. Her mind was made up. I wished her the best of luck.
We need to come to the place where we make the decision that nothing is worth giving away our peace of mind. Others are free to think what they want. It is their intellectual property. It has nothing to do with you. Becoming hostage to the opinion of others is a sad way to live. The same people that laugh at you are the same set of people that will come to borrow some money from you if you mistake yourself for a bank. You don’t need to become hostage to the insecurities of others. We all have our lives to live. Our journey is personal to us, not content for reality TV.
Until you make peace with who you are, get comfortable in your skin and enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going, you will keep doing what is not convenient. Shame is a very expensive budget item. Remove shame and kill the idea of what people will think from your budget. Cut your coat according to your cloth. It will set you free to exhale.
Have mercy on yourself. Give yourself a break. Where you are today is not the end of your journey.
For questions or comments email firstname.lastname@example.org; to order the book PSFFI, call or SMS to 0808 275 0980. You visit www.financialfreedominspiration.com. Follow me on Twitter @usiere