One Medical Issue Away from Poverty
This is not the sort of story you write on your company’s page. It should probably be a private journal note or something to share with only close friends. But here I am, writing this article that I know is very vulnerable. And it’s because I know women and men can learn from this. I warn you though, this is not your regular guide on ‘wealth creation for women’.
My mum died on the 13th of May 2018 and it remains my most painful life experience. There’s so much to this story but I’ll only be sharing parts relating to why I think women should have money.
Before my mum passed, when her illness (diabetes) got super serious and needed more sophisticated medical attention, my sister’s friend in the US sent funds to add to what we had for medical bills. To give you some context, I come from a middle-class family and consider myself a spoiled last born because I have had many of the things you can count as privileges in Nigeria. So we aren’t poor, but my mentor said once that – “most people are only one medical issue away from poverty in Nigeria” and it is true.
Mum’s Death Changed My Money Habits
The night my mum was taken to the hospital, there were conversations about how the bills would amount to millions of Naira if she was eventually admitted. The woman tried (hei God. Who is cutting onions now oh) but did not make it through the night.
I remember seeing her the next morning and asking myself “So it is this small million million that they are calling that I could not afford to drop?” I know people say “it’s not your fault” yadayadayada and I know it’s not. But I made up my mind after that day that I was NEVER going to be poor. Not just that, that I was never going to live in such a way that I never had a dime saved for (planned or unplanned) financial responsibilities.
This isn’t to say that money can save people from death, because we all know people who had all the funds but still didn’t make it. The experience was just very eye opening for me.
Prior to that time, I had interned in four companies and officially worked for over a year but did not have a penny saved or invested. It was like my mum’s death caused a brain reset. I am sharing this because I know that many want to learn tips that focus on wealth creation for women but are still living like I used to – not planning, not increasing their earning power, not saving, not investing.
Repeat after me – “thus far and no more”.
Women Who Inspire Me
Just this week, my friend shared how her mum had to step up when their dad died. Since then, she’s raised six children and built a house. She’s grateful her mum had been financially “aware” before their dad died because things would have turned out much worse.
I have another friend like that, whose mum raised three children and built a house after their dad passed. Things were super tough, but they would have been much worse had their mum not been somewhat financially independent.
Sent Out After 39 Years of Marriage
I recently saw the news of a billionaire sending his wife of 39 years out of their home in a very high-brow area in Lagos. To be honest, I do not care about who is at fault or who caused problems in the marriage.
Looking at how her bags were packed out, one can assume that the man knows well that she may not be able to handle it financially. If she was a super financially stable woman, I truly believe that the “sending out” would have been done in a more befitting manner.
Which is why I think it is too dangerous to be financially dependent as a woman. Even if you decide to be a full-time homemaker, please ensure you have assets in your own name.
Mrs Atum can be anybody. So Mr. Kenneth Atum and Mrs Atum on documents do not work.
My friend and I made up our minds that financial education will be part of our family cultures and no girl will be left out of critical conversations and decisions.
I am for marriage and building with your partner, but please, let it never be to the detriment of your financial security.
How I am Currently Doing
I am debt-free. I saved up using Cowrywise and got interest on my debt! Lol! We’ll break down how to do this (i.e. pay off debt) in a subsequent section.
I manage my money better than I ever have by daily taking note of how much I spend. Quick story of how this has helped me: while taking note of the previous day’s expenses a few weeks back, I noticed that I was billed three times for an item. I wonder how many times this has happened to me that I never bothered to check.
Before, I’ll get receipts and dispose of them but because I had to account for what I spent in the supermarket a day before, I found out I had been billed wrongly.
Try taking account of daily expenditure if you really want to get to “deep” parts of wealth creation because you cannot multiply what you don’t measure.
Also, I have saved more than I ever have in my life and I am enjoying the process of trying out investments.
In this regard, Cowrywise has really helped me. The product is helping me stay disciplined and my colleagues are always happy to help share new money ideas. I guess when you’re in an environment where financial terms are being thrown around, you’ll need to step up your game.
So let’s talk about that a bit.
Keep a Circle of People Who Want the Best for you
If you’re constantly hearing about how you’re not good or smart enough, you may start to believe it. Surround yourself with people who are daily getting better themselves and who want the best for women in general.
If they only want the best for you but treat other women bad, run.
Become Debt Free
What’s funny to me is how everyone talks about people that owe them, I now wonder who the real borrowers are…
Anyway, how do debtors sleep at night? If you have the answer please share because I can never fathom it. I took a loan from my dad for a project and devised an immediate plan to pay back because I feel uncomfortable owing someone, even if they’re a relative.
If you currently owe money, please design a plan to pay it back. It not only helps you to feel better but also helps increase your positive net worth, which is very important.
How to Pay Off Debt
- Communicate. Please do not go missing when it’s time to pay off your debt. Stay in touch with the lender and let them know the plan you’ve created to pay back (weekly, monthly, yearly…whatever is comfortable for you and agreed upon with the lender)
- Drastically live below your means. If you’re working to pay off debt, you can’t afford to live anyhow. Have you heard of people that post images on social media of their expensive lifestyles while owing someone money? Yeah. That’s your brand when you live lavishly, knowing well that someone is swearing for you somewhere. Cut, cut, cut expenses until you’re able to pay back.
- Have a stable means of income. This seems like an obvious point but let’s spell everything out here. If you delight in saying “I can never work for anybody’… uhm, maybe change plans for a few months or years. Till your finances are super stable and you’re sure you can do well without a “job”. However, even entrepreneurship is not easy so you’ll still have to work to earn consistent income.
- Take advantage of surprise cash or bonuses. I know it can be painful when you have to save extra cash to pay off debt but it will only lead you to financial freedom faster. I did this and it hurt every time I had to set those “bonuses” aside. But guess who’s now entitled to all her bonuses after paying off her debt? Me y’all! Me!!!
- Increase your earning power. There are many ways to do this but side hustles and sharpened skill sets can help. You can enjoy career growth with high-in-demand skills, which can in turn increase your earning potential.
If you took a loan from an institution like the bank, then the strategies for paying back may look a little different. The points above mainly focus on personal debts. More “sophisticated” debts have terms and conditions that you need to follow.
Whatever kind of debt it is, just make sure you eventually pay up. Integrity is key.
Develop Earning Power Legitimately
- Sell your knowledge
- Start a thrift store
- Become a virtual assistant
- Create content for a fee
- Become a social media manager
- Become a social media influencer
- Cook food in bulk for people
- Become a freelancer
Kill Poverty Mindset
I had a conversation with two older ladies a few months back and while we spoke on topics relating to wealth creation for women, one of them said with such surety that it was hard to make 500k in one year. That’s N41,666 per month so I thought I heard wrong. But as she kept defending this notion, I realized that it was a mindset thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that everyone’s life, knowledge and access is different. However, as a phone-pressing millennial, Gen Z or baby boomer, you know that access to the internet has made things easier. It’s no longer that hard to make money if you really want to. Having a job that pays fairly well will already ensure you make more than 500k a year.
If you’re able to align yourself with a financial growth mindset, the rest becomes easy. And even when it’s tough, (wealth creation for women is not always fun and games), you’ll not give up because you know that if you continue on the right path, money will flow to you.
Wealth Creation for Women Begins with a Financial Plan
After you’ve killed the poverty mindset, it is time to take deliberate action.
What kind of life do you want?
How much do you need to earn to have that life?
What mistakes did the women before you make that you’ve sworn you’ll not make?
Are you really still walking by that promise?
Creating a financial plan begins with becoming knowledgeable about what’s available to you.
I’ll say working in FinTech really helps me learn more but you don’t have to work in one to understand how money works. There’s so much content written by Ope on the Cowrywise blog that can help you become more financially deliberate.
Do you create budgets? Do you stick to them?
Have you started saving regularly? Have you started investing?
A friend and I recently spoke about how she hit the millionaire status with a 9 to 5, so this is not limited to women in business. However, it didn’t just happen. She created a plan and I can imagine what’s possible as her earning power increases.
This is also not limited to married women because she is a single pringle.
During a Clubhouse event held by Cowrywise, Blessing Abeng shared how she had a financial plan BEFORE getting married. She was self-aware and knew the type of life and assets she wanted. This helped ensure she only dated and eventually married someone who was serious about building wealth as well.
How to Create a Financial Plan
- Write down your financial goals in plain language, not wishful thinking.
- Write down all recurring expenses and create a budget for them.
- Be flexible. If the plan does not include any fun, you might not stick to it.
- Have an emergency fund that can cover your expenses for say 6 months if any issues arise.
- Pay off debt (This is coming up again so it is super important)
- Have regular and life goals (like buying a house/retiring) saving plans
- Save to invest (Don’t save to spend. Save to multiply your money)
- Get health and other types of insurance. This will help limit how often you pay from your pocket for certain services. For example, having comprehensive car insurance ensures your car is covered in the case of accidents.
- Plan for retirement. Say after me “I will eat good in retirement.” I’ve also seen too many people who worked for many years but did not plan for retirement. I have decided to learn from others mistakes and adequately plan for retirement. Find out how to retire well.
- Frequently review your plan. “How well or how bad am I doing?” This is an important life question and it’ll definitely help you in your financial planning.
- Live within your means. Do not let pressure get in the way of meeting your goals. Applaud those ahead and stick to your plan because at the end of it, “Gbogbowa la ma je breakfast” meaning “it is all of us that will eat breakfast” in Yoruba. (Uhm, if you do the work though.)
- Learn from mistakes. Mistakes will not end up as total failures when you use them as a learning curve. Say you’re currently in debt, don’t beat yourself about it too much. Instead, plan to get out of it and learn from what led you in in the first place.
Live within your Means / Discard Peer Pressure
I, Mobolaji, currently live with my elder sister and her family because her house is close to my office and she’s not complaining.
I see people tweet stuff like “If you’re so-so age and still live with your parents, you’re a failure”. Ahh. Who makes all these rules? How do you know the person aspiring to perspiring isn’t still living with their own parents?
In this journey to financial stability, I am learning to sieve advice thoroughly.
I do plan to get an apartment, but in the meantime, I’m not going to allow someone on Social Media to dictate how I run my life.
If you’re able to still live in your parents house without it being toxic or have an older one who allows you to be comfortable in their space until you’re able to get yours, you should be totally thankful.
Not all parents are toxic so running out of your home because someone said so on social media does you no good if you and your parents are Gs.
It is when you move out and see the drama that renting or building a house entails that you will thank your parents for their sacrifices. Some of us sincerely do not still know how our parents were able to fend for multiple children at once.
Do am if e easy.
Save More than 10% of your Income or Save the Percentage you Can!
Hey, if you can, do it!
Some of us say we make too little, but when you start to plan and use a budget, you’ll find some excesses that can be cut off.
Remember how we mentioned learning from other people’s mistakes earlier?
Yeah. It sounds cool, but it does not mean that it is easy.
To get the financial security that some of our parents enjoyed in the 80s and 90s, we all have to work harder.
These are not the days of $1 = N1. So the more you’re able to push now, the better for your future self.
If more than 10% is much right now, that’s fine. The important thing is to start building a savings culture so that when capacity for above 10% comes, it will be super easy and you’ll not think that you have more money to “spend”.
Think Long Term
Some people have said this better than me so here it goes…
Rich people think long-term. They balance their spending on enjoyment today with investing for freedom tomorrow. – T. Harv Eker
I love that enjoyment is highlighted here! This whole post is not to say “do not enjoy”, but it does solidify the need to enjoy now while deliberately delaying gratification.
If you think about the long term then you can really make good life decisions that you won’t regret later. – Jeff Bezos
You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures. – Charles. C. Noble
Nobody buys a farm on whether they think it’s going to rain next year – they buy it because they think it’s a good investment over 10 to 20 years. – Warren Buffet
Do I need to add more on thinking long term? Ok. Here it is.
Do not eat tomorrow’s yam…
If you were expecting something deeper, uhm sorry.
Focus on your Career
In other words, “my dia” focus on what brings you regular income and discard the things that drain you.
As women, we already have so much to deal with, so be deliberate about the things you focus on. Ensure that they’re things that contribute to your bottom line, if not, it’s probably not worth it.
Also, a quick tip is to look out for and study women who have gone ahead and have done it right. They can be pointers for what to do and what not to do as you progress.
To get to the top, women usually have to fight harder than men. So may we meet strong (and soft-living) women, may we support them, may we be them, may we raise them.
You can and should have money.
Learnt something new from reading this guide? Share with me in the comments!
Have friends you think need to read this? It’s easy to share! Copy this https://cowrywise.com/blog/wealth-creation-for-women/ and send it to them. You’re a good friend. 😉