Hello all, been a while. I’ve been caught up in so many things happening in my personal life and work life, so blogging wasn’t part of my immediate plan.
I’ve gotten better and these past few weeks have been quite a learning curve for me in so many respects; one of which I will share right away.
A few weeks ago, my bestie and I, over dinner at Yellow Chilli, were discussing a number of issues and we got talking about money matter and our financials and how bad things seem to be even though we are working so hard in our various endeavours. One of the issues that came out strongly was the fact that financial issues are a major cause of marital friction. This no doubt comes with the bit that women expect and rightly so, that the man in their lives will take care of them. We are raised to grow up and not work so hard because “it is still a man’s house you will end up in”. This in turn has made a few women careless about their finances and their future and in that same length, their children’s future.
I left that place and since then been thinking about women and money. My first thought was to remember what I read somewhere. Someone had asked a question: “What makes the world go round – money or love?” and the answer was: “Love is what makes life special……. But without money, you are in deep trouble!!”
That women should take control of their finances from a tender age is something we need to begin to talk about. Painfully we are not teaching our daughters any of these, mainly because we do not know it. Many women are materially well off – have a husband ‘doing well’; in some cases ‘doing very well’; picks the household bills – pays school fees, mortgage or outright purchase of home, takes care of major events, etc. They have a good job and can do a little business on the side but no investments or any major savings. The belief is that ‘my husband will always be there to sort the rest out’.
The fact still remain that planning ahead is so crucial for women. I have been privileged to have friends who lost their husbands just like that (not that anyone plans to lose a husband); and their lives were turned upside down because there was no financial planning. I like the whole christianese about God having our back but God expects us to plan and He can have something to support.
Most women have had to go through a divorce and the typical African man will ensure you leave with nothing – in turn these women end up absolutely nothing but the bags and shoes and clothes and jewellery they acquired during the marriage. When it comes to divorce, women still end up with the shorter end of the stick.
Fair or not, women need to do more financial planning than men. I learnt this lesson very early in life perhaps due to my background. I had to plan for everything. Even when I didn’t know Christ, I planned and becoming a Christian, I planned even more.
Typically, women still earn about 25% less than men. Only about one out of five women over 65 receive a pension. Most women live in the lie that the more money you make or earn, the richer and comfortable you will be. This is so not true because it is not your income but what you spend. Most of us have gotten caught up in living a ‘designer life’ with so much noise – drive the latest car, carry the latest designer bag, live in the latest neighborhood – and nothing to keep you going in the next 20 years. In fact we don’t see the next 20 years – because as you know – Jesus is coming soon.
Thinking through all these and what I’ve been through in the last couple of years, it is obvious that most women spend more than they make – in the real sense of the word and this is a serious problem. Our spending habits kill us faster than anything else. I have had to do a lot of checkups on my spending lately. I found I was carrying too many people on my ‘spending list’ because I felt a need to ‘take care of the whole world’. I have had to shed quite a lot, because truth be told – some of them don’t care how you do it and if you can no longer really do it, they fizzle out of your life.
Another area I noted that 98% of women fall prey to – the Cinderella myth – “My husband will take care of me and the children” or “find and marry a wealthy man and everything will be fine”. Please note that it is neither safe nor practical to assume that the man in your life can be counted on to take care of your finances.
I recently encountered someone whose husband had lots of properties and some in her name. This woman had no idea where some of the properties were located. In fact to make matters worse, she had no idea what kind of property they were, what their values were, etc. I was awed. What a wonderful woman. I sometimes wish I could be this brain dead. If this man were to drop dead with no will (most Nigerian men don’t have) or he even willed it to another person, she will expect me to be compassionate and commiserate when she can no longer pay her children’s fees or is booted out of the home. The average age of widowhood today is just 56!!!!
Marriage is not a kind of insurance policy that frees you from the realities of life. Because no matter how good a man in your life is , sooner or later, he will die (sounds morbid) and likely before you because truth is the average woman lives seven years longer than the man. I know some of you will be wondering what is wrong with Ini but I’m just typing as I think. This is bitter truth o. Because of our unwillingness to accept this unpleasant reality, we tend to be woefully unprepared to cope with it when it comes to pass. That is why for women, losing a husband (in whichever way) is generally as devastating economically as it is emotionally. In fact 80% of widows living in poverty were not poor before their husbands died or disappeared!.
How many women know their husband’s debts? His entire networth? What he earns? What his investments or shares are? Have you asked? Did he tell you or glossed over it ( I know someone who is good at glossing over issues like this). We teach our girls to be dependent because of an entrenched social belief that women can’t or shouldn’t do it all alone. Well some girls (including this one) were taught differently. And I constantly teach my daughters that too – SMART WOMEN SECURE THEIR FUTURE BY KEEPING A TIGHT REIN ON THEIR FINANCES and they work hard too.
One of the things I have done in the past one year is to set my house in order. I just want to know I can do what I want to do when I want to do it – that is my financial state of mind. Money is not an end on itself. It is merely a tool to achieve some particular goal and if my values don’t meet up with my financial plans, then there is a problem.
Fact is a new dress, a fancy car and all the jewelry are not worth the sleepless nights and traveling and head bursting work I have put into my work. Smart women do more than nice clothes and cars and all that trying to outdress each other.
Do you own a home? How much is the current value of your home? What is the size of the mortgage? Is oga paying the mortgage regularly? Do you have insurance on it? Learnt a lady just lost the husband and the bank is kicking her out of the home because oga was not paying mortgage regularly and no insurance. Meanwhile they just moved into the home 11 months earlier and come and see the house warming party and her batting her false eye lashes as everyone ooh’d and aah’d at such beautiful home. Meanwhile as is, she cannot afford to even rent an apartment of 800k on the mainland (which is actually lifestyle downgrade for her); her friends are struggling to raise the money – na so me I take hear. I no fit shout.
Do you have a life insurance? Does Oga have? How much are the policies? Where are the documents? What other policies exist in the family name? Where are the investments? Cash in savings? Money market accounts? Savings bonds? Stocks? Real estate investments? Collectibles?
In fact, do you know what is going on with your family money since na all of una get the money? Of course I know - Money isn't everything - yes I know. In fact I agree. Free me abeg - just read this in the light of the need to have some investments - call it egg nest, call it savings, call it anything but please just plan.
Make I rest small. I will come back on this matter later. Remember this – Success leaves clues and smart women leave successful clues for their daughters and sons.