We are almost a week into 2016 already. What are you doing differently?
Happy new year people! Here’s hoping everyone had a good start to the year. So, one of the major challenges I faced last year was in the area of personal finance. Like the average person out there, I get cash strapped from time to time. However, the year just gone by was particularly financially challenging for me for many reasons. And so, one of the things I have resolved to do this year is to ensure that I reduce the chances of that happening again to the barest minimum. I intend to achieve this by going back to something my siblings and I were encouraged to do as kids – save the traditional way in a money box!I got an exact replica of the clay savings box (well, it doesn’t exactly have the shape of a pig, but you get the idea…) you can see above. It is one of the commonest and ancient cash box used to save coins and paper money. I opted for this and not the ceramic or porcelain type because I wanted that old school, conservative feel. And so, request for it I did. I cannot really explain the kind of childlike excitement that welled up within me when my mum delivered it after I had asked her to help me get one like she used to do when we were kids.
For one, it brought back plenty of nostalgia, as it had been ages since the last time I set my eyes on the good old bank. I love the fact that there’s nothing fancy about it unlike its “Oyinbo” version. It doesn’t come with a key and lock or a removable nose as is in some cases and just has a single opening where money is slotted in. There’s no way to retrieve whatever money saved in it because the whole idea behind its invention is to discourage the saver from having easy access to the money. Hence, one is practically forced to leave money in it until it can contain no more or till the specific time the saver had in mind. Retrieving or collecting money kept in it literally translates to smashing the box.
I remember telling my friend about my plans to get a piggy bank. Needless to say, she gave me that quizzical what-is -Lolade-up-to-now-look. I also put it up as a display picture on my BlackBerry Messenger in my excitement to the amusement of some of my contacts, but I didn’t care. As if to validate what I had decided to do, on the first day of the year, I stumbled on a tweet from someone who had tweeted their decision to save a thousand naira every day throughout this year via the local money box! I had found a kindred spirit in the battle against going broke, and this further fueled my resolve to save even more regularly this year.
Also, considering all the gloomy economic predictions for 2016 by financial experts due to the continued fall in the price of oil (which is Nigeria’s main source of foreign exchange earning and government financing), the high cost of doing business, and pervading unemployment in the land, cash in hand has been predicted to be a huge factor if an individual intends to stay afloat or even thrive during this period, especially with the foreign exchange restrictions on daily cash withdrawals. The financial crisis is currently hitting hard at the economy of Nigeria, with the country borrowing to maintain expenditure levels in the short term. While the government seeks to improve the worsening state of the economy by infrastructural development and diversification of the economy, as individuals, it’s becoming more and more pertinent to take personal finance seriously in a highly uncertain environment. The usual admonition to save and invest a proportion of one’s income has become as important as ever.
When that individual proposed the idea of saving N1,000 via the money box daily, many responded that it may not be feasible for many relatively low income earners. This is true, but the idea is not to save a N1,000 as a fixed amount or imbibe it as a hard and fast rule, but to develop a culture of saving loose change. It doesn’t have to be N1,000. It may be N200 or N500 – an amount that could have easily been spent on something insignificant. That 500 bucks that would have been spent on a cup of ice-cream, The 200 bucks that you would have spent on a drink without thinking twice. The idea is to develop the discipline of saving something, no matter how little daily.
To many, this might sound too simplistic – basic stuff that should be the purview of illiterates and semi-literates. But that’s what makes it achievable. Its simplicity. Not everyone understands all the financial jargon involved in investment and compound interests and percentages and recurrent and capital expenditures and liquidity ratios and the likes. But virtually everyone can understand the basic concept of putting something little away for the rainy day, which is what this article hopes to pass across. If I am able to save N1,000 every single day throughout the year, then by the time it’s the 31st of December, I would have N366,000 cash in hand, apart from whatever I may have in the bank. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself broke if I had that extra cash to fall back on at any time.
It could pay for a plane ticket, furniture, electronics, or household appliances. So, you may want to join the train. It’s pretty simple and basic. Let’s fight the dreary economic situation in simple, smart ways.