Yay, it’s salary week! (at the time of writing this), or maybe for you, salary week has just passed and you’ve found yourself wondering how your bank account is empty again.
Well, you certainly are not the only one. Word on the street is that some people spend their salaries even before they get the credit alerts.
Are you one of those people? Stop looking sideways. I’m asking you.
If your answer is yes, then there’s yet hope for you. Let me help.
The first thing you need to realize and acknowledge is that this is not a sustainable way to live. You’re living life on the edge, and it’s not the way to go. I know, this may be tough love, but it’s needed. You need to be brutally honest with yourself if you’re going to break unhealthy patterns. No one will do it for you.
You might have found a way to convince yourself that the problem is with how much you earn. Hmmm…
That might be true, but if we’re being honest, in most cases, it’s not about the salary, it’s about you. Every action you take, every decision you make, every single one of them adds up to that red account balance you’re looking at after 2 days. I wrote about how you can save on a small salary here.
However, the chances are that even if you earned more, it would still be the same. Parkinson’s law explains why. It’s probably not about the salary, but about discipline (or lack thereof) and your daily decisions.
Now let’s talk about decisions…
The average adult makes about 35,000 decisions in a day. If we multiply that by 30 (the average number of days in a month), we’d have 1.05 million – over 1 million decisions made every month.
What to eat, what to wear, what time to go to bed, if to walk away from an argument or give them a piece of your mind, whether to go to the gym today or “tomorrow” 👀. Every single one of these seemingly unrelated decisions sums up to what you see as your account balance on Day T+2.
So it’s safe to say that there are over 1 million easy steps and decisions you can take to make your salary remain with you longer than it already does.
I can’t tell you all 1 million in this post, so I’ve decided to group them based on 4 types of decisions that exist. For each decision type, I’d give you one tip to ensure your salary lasts longer with you. Ready?
Four types of decisions:
Routine decisions: These are basically decisions you make often and on a rolling basis. What to eat, what to wear, to cook or eat out, etc. are good examples. These decisions are mostly for your everyday survival and hardly affect other people. For these, you need to:
Create spending barriers
I always recommend creating barriers as a step to take towards stopping some habits or making behavioural changes. Spending pattern is one of those changes. Don’t save your card details on that shopping site. Leave your card at home sometimes and just take the cash you need based on your shopping list.
These simple actions make it harder for you to make expensive money decisions that you don’t even notice in your routines. If you have your card details memorized, then I can’t help you o lol. Next, we have:
Crisis decisions: These are decisions made in times of emergency or crisis. They are made when unusual or unplanned events occur. Whether or not to get a new phone after losing yours at a party, is a good example.
Have an emergency fund
I say this at the risk of sounding like a broken record: Have an emergency fund. Put money away toward emergencies. When things don’t go as planned, and life tries to play a fast one on you, your emergency fund keeps you steps ahead.
Have you ever wondered why it’s always once your salary comes in that those “urgent” things start to happen? You work so hard for your money, you should be spending it on what you want to – not emergencies. Set up an emergency fund now.
Group decisions: These are the ones you contribute to, but don’t have full control over the final decision for everyone. Choosing a preferred mode of transportation for a group trip is a good example. In such cases, you need to:
Master the art of a respectful “no”
Peer pressure can be a good or bad thing. Savings circle is the only kind of good peer pressure I know, to be honest. The others usually involve you losing something – sometimes money, sometimes your time, sometimes even more.
In some cases like the group trip example, you can find a way to say no and find a solo alternative. In some other cases, like deciding with your housemates on things of common interest around the house, you might not be able to remove yourself. So try as much as possible to set boundaries from the onset especially relating to the financial responsibilities you all have to share.
Operational decisions: Decisions based on a set structure to control how things work around you. An example is a personal decision to turn on your generator every day by 7 p.m. You have full control over this. Subsequently, turning on the generator becomes a routine decision, but it starts off as operational. You need to:
Be self-aware and honest
If you’re not honest with yourself about what you can or cannot afford, you would set standards that you struggle to live up to. Salary week would be spent playing catch up with your debt and finances in general.
Build a realistic structure for yourself so that your finances can thrive.
In case you’re too lazy to read all of it…
Decisions build up to form the circle you keep coming back to every month. If we take time to understand those decisions, then we can take action.
For routine decisions, create spending barriers.
To prevent crisis decisions from swallowing your salary, create an emergency fund.
If it’s a group decision, master the art of saying no.
For operational decisions, be self-aware and honest with yourself.
Not every time your salary comes in and goes out “as e dey hot”, let it cool down.
Give it a resting place, let it breathe.
Your bank account is not the best place for it to breathe though, it would get tortured by maintenance fees and random unreasonable deductions.
Your Cowrywise long-term savings plan is a better option. It’s safe, secure, and it would feel like a gift from you to you when it matures.
You deserve a gift. You work hard already, give your money a chance to work for you.