Growing up I always understood the importance of money, however I was never really enlightened on the source of money. All I knew was my parents had money and if I ever needed something, with the right facial expression and a strong enough reason, I would get the money I required from them.
And then I graduated from University. I was super excited about this but what I didn’t see coming was the shocking reality that followed. One particular day as usual, I made plans to hang out with my friends. I checked my account balance and then realized my monthly allowance from Daddy was late. I thought oh this must be a technical error, he probably forgot. 2 days later and 1 day to my planned hang out, my allowance still hadn’t come in. I decided to go remind my dad who I was sure had forgotten, and as I stood in front of him, the words just couldn’t come out. I was actually ashamed, it just felt really petty. As a graduate and young adult (#MissIndependent), asking my parents for money to go out for drinks with friends just didn’t seem right.
Being a young African millennial born and raised in Nigeria, unlike my peers in the western world, growing up, summer/part time jobs weren’t the norm (I mean have you seen the current unemployment rate?) so as a result of this, the only source of income I’ve ever really “known” in the real sense is money from my parents and of course kind uncles and aunties (God bless their precious souls). It was all well and good; I never thought this was a distorted reality until I became a ‘certified young adult’. Then the rude awakening came; I realized that I actually have no real rights to my parent’s money. I didn’t earn the money, so whatever of it that is given to me is merely goodwill and nothing more because quite simply my daddy’s money is not my money.
It was a harsh transition. All of a sudden my income wasn’t smiling and my soaring expenses didn’t send. In order to curb this I had to peddle up on my job search, the days of full time pro-bono work was over. I had to find a real job that would pay me enough and give me the fulfillment of loving my job. This is Nigeria now so, I didn’t exactly get a job at the click of my fingers; it took me a while but thankfully not as long as it took most people. So I got a great job that ticked all the things on my list except one; a 7 figure annual salary. It’s fine I thought, I can manage this.
So as a big girl now, still #MissIndependent, I discontinued asking my parents for money except in times of real dryness. For the first few months, I was living from pay check to pay check, there was always more month at the end of my salary.
I’ll be honest with you, when it comes to my finances; “Adulting” hasn’t been as fun as I thought it would be and I honestly can’t wait to get to the yellow Bentley part, but whilst my journey progresses, I’m determined to hack this personal finance thing one step at a time. Thankfully, I’m not where I was a year ago and here are the top 5 things I did that made all the difference:
1. Accepted that my Daddy’s money is not my money
I had to let go of that entitlement mentality. My parents paid their dues by working really hard to get to where they are and if I want to be like them someday and definitely even greater I have to put in the work. Besides, I don’t want to finish my potential inheritance now.
2. I Kept Dreaming
Regardless of my not so great income, I still have dreams of living a certain kind of life and I decided to define it. One of the things I did was get a book where I write down all my goals concerning my financial wellbeing and desired lifestyle in general. I wrote them down in details; from the kind of apartment I want to get, dream vacations destinations, car model, the list is loonggg. The fact that I earn a small salary now doesn’t mean I have to give up on my goals; on the contrary I’m setting even more goals and keeping my eyes on the prize.
3. I Called Myself To Order
As much as I love to dream, I’m also an analyst by nature, I believe when you dream up where you want to be in the future, you must acknowledge that there is a gap between where you are right now and that future so I decided to evaluate in black ink and white paper just how wide that gap is and how much work I have to put in to bridge that gap.
Another thing I do now is evaluate every financial decision against my income. I made some interesting lifestyle changes like hang out with friends once a month instead of every weekend, let Uber rest and gave ’em BRT buses a shot (the blue ones are actually quite comfortable btw, it amazing how civil Nigerians become in an air-conditioned bus), among many other things.
It’s not the most convenient set up but I know what this is leading up to so it’s worth the sacrifice.
4. Put in the work
Learning to live within my means is great but I need to ensure this ‘means’ triples in the next 12 months at least and in order to do that, I need to up my earning potential. After much research, I decided the best approach would be to up my skill level, boost my competencies and build my reputation at work as an exceptional talent who always exceeds expectations and now that I think about it, this approach has been working so far.
5. Save, save, save and invest.
After reading ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’, I decided to save at least 10% of my income monthly but still every now and then I would ‘borrow’ from my savings, so I decided to make it a bit more inaccessible via platforms like www.piggybank.ng and a target savings account.
Has it been an easy journey? Hell no! I’m definitely not where I need to be yet. I fall short every other month but I get back up because I must hack this personal finance thing! I can’t have read Smart Money Woman and still be slacking so the race continues as I keep finding creative ways to stick with the plan to manage my finances for success.
This post originally appeared on Smart Money Africa; and was written by Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf.