This article originally appeared on BusinessDay.
I feel like there are two types of people in the world: those who believe that the more money you have, the more troubles you will experience and those who believe that the poorer you are, more problems you have. But that’s not really the case, right?
A quick glance at the news will show you that from the poorest countries in the belly of Africa to the richest in the western world, there are problems every where.
This must mean that the presence of money does not equate to the absence of problems. Which could also mean that money is not the issue.
Let’s put this in perspective.
While I was serving(a federal government program compulsory for university graduates), the primary focus for my fellow Youth Corpers and I was to be retained at our various places of primary assignment, which we believed will lead to earning “big bucks”. As we got closer to the end of our call year, all the conversations and office gossip was on those that will be retained and the seemingly unlucky ones who will be let go.
Of course, no one wanted to be discharged, notwithstanding the fact that some of us hated our places of assignment. There is this part of us, as humans, that abhors rejection. We don’t want to be rejected but wouldn’t mind leaving the said company and taking another offer.
For us, it was all about earning more, being respected and finally belonging to the exalted role of full time staff and lawyer. I believed that finally, I would be able to afford all the many things my corper salary had failed to cater for. I’m sure we have experienced this at one time or the other.
There was just this unwavering hope that all my money problems will be almost non-existent once I was confirmed.
Fortunately, I was retained at the end of my service year.
In retrospect, I don’t understand why I believed the money will answer all these problems. For one thing, it was a 30% increment on my corper “allowance” which wasn’t really much in real terms (especially after tax).
Being retained also brought it’s own kettle of fish. I noticed that my parents and siblings started expecting me to chip in more often. I became responsible for most of my costs and as is usually the case, lifestyle inflation creeped in.
See, when I was imagining the “big bucks”, I somehow assumed that all my costs will remain the same.
Let’s say my salary is x and my costs, y. With my new salary, I expected it to be x+30% with y remaining static. However, it moved to x+30% and y+70%. I was more or less back to square one (infact, I was probably worse off).
The interesting thing was that I didn’t learn from this experience because the next thing on my agenda was to get a promotion. I was back to thinking that all I needed was more money to take care of the additional costs. So, the cycle continued. Thankfully, it all changed a few years later.
I had to go back to the basics. I went back to the childhood money advice of saving. I started reading more of this area called personal finance. One central tenet I learnt was on the need to spend less than I earned notwithstanding what the actual figure was.
How about you? How many times have you believed that all you need is more money to sort out life’s many problems then once you get it, it seems there are a whole new crop of problems to deal with.
The cycle inevitably continues.
We wait earnestly for that promotion, for that new job with all the perks. We move from company to company, insatiable and waiting for that one role that will lead to our freedom and the end of all our travails.
I hate to break it to you but I have to, money is not the answer. It is only the means to an end and not the end. It provides the avenue to achieve what you want but you know one thing we usually forget; you have to tell your money what you want it to do. I don’t mean you should speak incantations while siting in a dark room with a red cloth, let’s leave that for Nollywood.
I’m talking about planning. Determining your goals, your plans for each period. Having a fair idea of your costs and expenses, differentiating between your wants and needs (those prada shoes and that Tag Heuer wristwatch are not needs) and incorporating delayed gratification (a form of self control) into your lifestyle.
Going for simplicity in your actions, dressing and your way of living. Who knows, this could be your year of minimalism.
Just remember that the problems never end. Earlier, I highlighted the fact that both rich countries and their poorer counterparts have problems.
Yes, I do agree that they may be dealing with varying degrees of problems. With Somalia dealing with extreme poverty with a GDP per capita of 128.1USD (African Vault), a country where many don’t have access to the basics (food, water and shelter) while a country like the United States of America is dealing with insecurity, racisim, police brutality and the like.
These are still problems. In our case, Nigeria is closer to the poorer side of the scale and has been dealing with its many cases of extreme poverty in addition to other issues.
For the residents of these countries, their unique problems still play centre stage in their daily lives.
So, I want you to realise something; the problems and issues never totally go away no matter how much money you have. They can, however, be controlled and managed.
How about we stop waiting for that promotion, new job, business, side hustle, gift, ‘hammer’ and all the others options we believe will lead to our liberation. Wouldn’t you rather focus on doing the best with what you have right now? It may seem daunting or impossible, but as someone that ended up saving about 40% of her salary, I can honestly tell you, you can do this.