The expression, “to save for a rainy day” tends to highlight the importance of “making hay while the sun shines”. Interesting how one would use one expression to explain the other. Nonetheless, we are often advised to put aside some earnings in order to cater for a future need. Yes, this means making good decisions while you can. If you are fortunate to have some income and nothing is saved or invested for a future benefit, then one’s income become a case of “from hand to mouth”.
There is a lot of unemployment in the society, especially among young women and men, however there are those who are employed and earn some wage or salary. There are also others who are self-employed and can make some profit and get some income. The question here is, “Do you make the sacrifice to save for a rainy day”.
Today, we speak of a Nigeria in recession, which indeed has been a memorable one, even for seemingly wealthy families. An interesting thing about the recession is that even a simple man on the street could likely tell you that Nigeria is on recession today partly because as a country, we did not “save for the rainy day”. It is common knowledge that Nigeria has in the past made a lot of money from oil yet her leaders did not put the country in good standing to adequately withstand economic crisis. As much as it is easy to criticize national leaders on this ground, as individuals, the ability to save still stares us in the face too.
A good number of persons, if asked, would probably admit that it is a wise thing to consistently put aside some savings. Such savings could cater for an emergency, for some needs or future contingencies. However, the challenge and question would be, “Do you have the discipline to actually keep some savings aside without going back to clear it all up on things you can do without?” Developing the habit of saving requires that one is focused, disciplined and have in mind some goal you want to achieve in the short or long term.
Focus and prioritize. Focus is needed because once you begin saving, there will be a lot of other needs calling for immediate attention. This is when you will need to pause and be sure of what your priorities really are. If other people define your priority, then you will be responding to every need that comes your way. You will not be able to save or invest in such a way that you can boost some aspect of your life. If this income or investment honestly represent something you have worked for, then what you decided to do with it should not be determined by others. Your priorities must be determined by your own values and intended goals. In addition to focus and prioritizing is the issue of personal discipline.
In our African culture where extended family gets closer in the issues of economic needs, one is often faced with a certain pressure to reach out to relatives. When you are singled out as someone who has some income, you are expected to attend to some financial needs of extended relatives. Even when they do not make a request, you may feel the need to respond in that regard. There is nothing wrong with this, as it is said that “Charity begins at home”.
However, to every good thing, even limits are required because resources are not infinite. One way out of this is to be honest with these relatives about the needs and responsibilities on your shoulders. This does not mean explaining to everyone all that is going on in your life, but it would help to provide some hint on your challenges and struggles too. Hopefully, they will understand and let you be. You will be taken seriously when you let the people around you see that you indeed reach out to relatives when you are in a good position to do so.
Discipline. Personal discipline is a pre-requisite for achieving success at anything. Discipline involves self-restraint/control, knowing what you need to get what you want and directing your decisions towards that goal. The farmer is a good example of this. To plant yam, the farmer knows that she/he can’t afford to eat up the entire yam tuber. She must leave the head for planting. No matter how hungry the children are, this painful sacrifice of leaving the head of yam for planting must be, to have more for the family to eat in the future. Else, the hunger that makes you eat up even that head of yam will be sustained for a longer while. Jean Chatzky puts it very well, “Saving requires us to not get things now so that we can get bigger ones later”. All those little spending and unplanned expenditures need to be put away.
The discipline of ‘saving for a rainy day’ is not saving the leftover of your income. Rather, the discipline is, get your income, put aside your savings, then you can begin spending the rest. Sounds familiar or hard to do? Also, beware of those very tiny expenses that seem like nothing; they do count. It all adds up, trust me.
So, look forward to your next experience of saving; you may be surprised how excited it will make you feel. It will give you the power to achieve a greater future, gradually, and beyond your dreams.
Investment. While we look at saving, a business-minded way of doing so is through investment. Some part of that money could indeed bring in more money, so why stark it all in the bank? Think of how the money you have can attract more money in the future. There are persons looking for that capital in your possession and they do not have access to such.
You will find that wealth is not about how much money you have but how much you can save and invest for the future. So, make your investment choices with wisdom, discernment and right information. This will help you avoid losing your hard-earned money. Nonetheless, some level of risk may be inevitable in every business, big or small.
So, SAVE, INVEST and see how fast you GROW!
- Linda Ellah