due…

Better late than never…

I have 2 posts due. Actually one is overdue and was to run last Saturday; the other is scheduled for tomorrow. I am not sure the night can redeem this situation – I have writing targets – but better late than never.

You know what though – writing is not a walk in the park. Attempting to write about money matters is even harder. It gets worse because my writing style is personal and I literally must wear my heart on my sleeve. That’s how writers start – they say – from giving their personal accounts.

Recently, though, I felt a little redeemed when I discovered financial literacy is part of life skills development. Why? Life skills help individuals deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. See Wikipedia. This means that they are able to positively handle situations of loss or windfall*.

And before I move to my next posts on savings – which will be dealing with ‘gain’ – let me recap my last four posts in which were all in the direction of managing expenditure. KINDLE is about feeding our minds with content that will push us to handling money well. SPACES gives a lay understanding of both financial stress and financial freedom. LIVE RICH – is a beautiful clip which continues to help refocus and return me to the path each time I veer off. GENIUS well is just about that 🙂

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* Windfall – a large amount of money that is won or received unexpectedly

genius…

That’s where it all begins. From within…

One of my heaviest expenses – besides rent – is food. I am a picky eater. I prefer to cook my own food but because I rarely get time to do that, I takeout. I cannot even begin to tell you how expensive an affair that has been. And for years I have struggled to get into a healthier regime but nothing beats habit. On the other extreme is my hair. I have tried to care for it for the longest time ever but gave up on it. Bad hair is just that bad hair and like one’s nose (save for plastic surgery), there’s very little that can be done to change it.

The other day, however, I checked into a new salon. A little expensive but I had no option as it was the only establishment opening late that Sunday. “I have weak hair…” I lamented as the salonist waded through my 6-month growth. “You have fine hair… Not weak hair…” “Fine???” This was the first time in my 30-sum life that my mane was being regarded as fine. “It’s your hair texture type…” He explained and further gave details on the different types of hair African women are endowed with. “The harm occurs when wrong products are used

You should see my hair now! It doesn’t resemble Rapunzel’s but it’s no longer the old ball of gray sewing thread it was. I’ve been moisturizing it religiously but do you know what the bigger secret is? Spinach! And I have been gutting down loads of it because Mr. Expert assured me of a miracle. “No amount of hair products will change anything if you don’t eat well. That’s where it all begins…

Like said, the salon is a little expensive but I a more than willing to invest in this life-giving expense not just because I love my new look but ‘dieting‘ has never felt easier! Who would have thought that Mr. Hair Guy would be the one to change course of my bad eating habits. Investing in an expert is always a worthwhile cause and I can assure you will always leave inspired to perspire 🙂 and that my friends is what Thomas Edison calls GENIUS!

spaces…

Though we stay a little longer in this space than desired, time affords us extra resources…

Profit or Surplus is a variable of Income and Expenses and so is Loss or Deficit. Let’s visualize the math…

2 – 2 = 0          EVEN / enough

2 – 1 = 1           SURPLUS / saving

2 – 3 = (1)       DEFICIT / debt

In the EVEN space, one’s income or salary for that matter is enough to cater for the month’s expenses until the next. Majority of us start from here and it is a good place to begin. And though we stay a little longer in this space than desired, time affords us extra resources from a promotion, a business idea or synergies in marriage. Trouble sets in when our income fails to grow in equal proportion with our expenditure. Increasing family needs, life emergencies and the ever rising inflation are some of the things that can change the quality of our lives by throwing us into the DEFICIT space.

DEFICIT is where one’s expenses exceed income. To deal with this space, we must borrow. However, these borrowings if not managed well may throw us in a space of perpetual DEFICIT or debt as it is more commonly referred to. The good thing about spaces is you can move out of them even if it means squeezing self through the eye of a needle. Of course the SURPLUS space is most ideal but always seems unachievable. BUT if it is possible for others, why not us?

I tend to think these others seek additional revenue streams to the extent that one stream is able to cater for all family expenses and the rest is left to more profitable investments. Then there are those who may just have a single stream of income but manage their expenses in a way that does not exceed their income. I reckon they set percentages which they strive to survive on. They come up with creative ways of minimizing their expenditure and perhaps only eat out once a month. They seek bargains from flea markets and have no problem riding the bus.

Both who seek the increasing income and the reducing expenditure make sure they save. Not once but regularly. They are not interested in get-rich-quick schemes but take well calculated risks. Of course they are oblivious of life and are aware that DEFICIT and EVENness are all part of the SURPLUS journey. So help us God! So help us God…

kindle…

Are you a reader?

If there’s one question I dread it is the “Are you a reader?” question. And it doesn’t help that it is present at every writers meeting or workshop. Almost like the unspoken pass-code for fraternity members.

I am currently reading Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth.” My mind hides. I’d never be caught dead reading such material. Dude pulls the book from his backpack. “I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes; on my face they are still together.” is how the cover reads. I salivate.

I just started Nora Roberts Obsession…” But before my mind distinguishes it from Calvin Klein’s Obsession, the lass argues that Nora didn’t do a good job on it. The tea in my cup unsettles itself as we wonder how we will survive the onslaught. “Alchemist!” I blurt out and the group bursts in excitement. Paulo always excites. I am relieved. Especially because I don’t have to reveal that it has been my only read in last couple of months.

Novels ain’t my thing. I prefer novellas. Straight to the point! BUT troubled times have led me – all in one night – to wipe a 300 page slate clean! That said, I do try and a lot of my times are spent rummaging through financial blogs for financial information. These blogs have helped me out of ignorance to a place where I proactively manage my monthly blessings. I am grateful for the internet in which I have found simple, straightforward and safe resources for a soul that was deep-in-debt. Safe because financial issues are sometimes so private that it makes it easier to discuss with google. Here is a useful link on Financial Planning Basics.

Subscribing to a personal finance blog that posted weekly provided a lot of mental support for a deep-in-debt soul. The comments section were even more powerful as I realised that I wasn’t alone in the journey. It felt like we were holding hands and Bob Lotich – founder of Christian Personal Finance (now known as Seed Time) – was doing a great job at guiding us. It’s been 10 years since I started following Bob and I can attest to bearing much fruit put by putting into practice his propositions. His blog is Practical, Biblical, almost Magical 🙂 I highly recommend it!

Teachings on money continue to help me steward resources that go beyond my purview. I am currently journeying with Dave Ramsey and I kinda wish I had met him earlier. But everything in its time. I just finished his 8-Day JUMP START series and every post has been richly insightful. One of his articles breaks down personal financial growth in years. Take for example his advise to those in their 50s. He suggests they sell their house and move to a smaller one since the kids are now all grown up. “Continue investing…” he says, “And make sure you enjoy life!“. Do you see why the frat asks us to read? It opens the mind…

*This post is dedicated to my cousin who got me my first and only kindle. An Amazon Fire! I really didn’t know what it was, all I know that it was a miraculous answer to prayer. “I couldn’t think of someone more deserving…” were my cousins words. A true angel he is! A true angel ❤

generosity burnout…

7 Habits of Highly Productive Giving…

I recently read an article on beating generosity burnout. The title 😮 Really? Isn’t generosity supposed to be just that – generous? So why talk about burnout. I must, however, commend the authors for bringing in fresh thinking to the subject of giving. And whilst the article is geared to helping the employee achieve work-life balance, I believe the ‘7 Habits of Highly Productive Giving‘ shared is something that can be applied to money matters too.

1. Prioritize the help requests that come your way

Giving can be prioritized and more specifically planned for in advance. How? Deciding whom you want to give to in the coming months, allocating specific amounts to give to these categories, and opening your heart to the priorities (read emergencies) of others.

2. Give in ways that play to your interests and strengths to preserve your energy and provide greater value

While Grant & Rebele’s article refers to managing workload, this point makes for an interesting perspective in financial management i.e. we should not feel confined or restricted to giving from our pockets but explore other avenues of giving such as offering our expertise or counsel.

3. Distribute the giving load more evenly

The generosity burnout article encourages people to refer requests to others. This alludes to the fact that we do not have to single-handedly bear a burden. Bringing others on board helps resolve a ginormous problem quickly, easily, intelligently 🙂

4. Secure your oxygen mask first — you’ll help others more effectively if you don’t neglect your own needs

To be a highly productive giver, you must cater for your needs first. A budget is one tool that allows for the effective management of one’s finances. And you know what? It is absolutely fine to say you are not in a position to help.

5. Amplify your impact by looking for ways to help multiple people with a single act of generosity

I don’t want to belabour this point so I will simply say pay those who work in your homes and organizations (generously) well and the ripple impact will be greater than great!

6. Chunk your giving into dedicated days or blocks of time…

Love this! It reiterates my previous post that giving doesn’t have to be an abracadabra exercise. It can be planned for aka chunked i.e. divided into smaller achievable portions.

7. Learn to spot takers, and steer clear of them.

I don’t necessarily agree with this thought as such is the nature of giving and a ‘taker’ label is a tad bit too harsh! BUT then again the context in which the authors lay their discussion is totally different from this post. That said, do NOT encourage dependencies, do NOT encourage debt, and more especially do NOT encourage bad manners 🙂

Do take a minute to check out the burnout article.

 

giving…

Move it from being an abracadabra exercise…

I thought it unwise to move to the next budget category of expenditure without spending a little more time on giving. What is it and why do we do it?

A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of young graduates on the subject matter. “Is giving necessary?” I asked. “Absolutely not!” A young chap retorted. He, however, confessed that the feel-good factor made it somewhat worthwhile. I smiled. Such a genuine response and a reflection of where my heart sometimes is. “To give or not to give? Reasonable or excessive? Broke, so what should I do? What will they say if I don’t contribute?

My own search for answers has made it important to define giving.

Giving is a holy expression of thanking God for what He has done / does for us. Of course we cannot buy God or His favour but we have an opportunity to worship Him through our tithes and offerings.

Giving is our physical expression towards those we love. When I think about the generosity my parents continue to extend to us, I cannot help but desire to bring up my kids in the most generous of ways.

Giving is our human expression towards fellow men who cannot possibly make it on their own. Men who need to be helped up and out of poverty. Men seeking the opportunity to fish so that they too can dignify their kin. And, if you think about it, those men are sometimes us.

From a personal finance standpoint, I am convinced that planning out our gifts allows for purposeful, generous and cheerful giving…

  • Purposeful: At the end of the day, giving should not create unnecessary dependencies or undue stress. Planning can help determine how much of my earnings goes towards specific categories of giving.
  • Generously: Generous gifts communicate value but it isn’t always possible to do so with one paycheck. For example, you may want to give your brother a decent wedding gift but your salary wont allow. Budgeting for it across months will easily help achieve the goal.
  • Cheerfully: There’s nothing as sad as regretting your giving because you did not put much thought to it. Taking a minute or more to think about your gift will help move it from being an abracadabra exercise to an exciting and blessed experience.

That said, there’s a lot more that can be given besides money. The idea is to cultivate a generous community that is more concerned about justice, mercy and faith.

Happy Valentines! ❤