Saving-and-InvestingBE FINANCIALLY FREE: SAVE AND INVEST

The rate of unemployment in Nigeria has become so alarming. And every passing year fills the labour market with graduates from our various tertiary institutions. In discussing the effects of unemployment, a father explains that as he invests in his children’s education, he hopes to reap dividends when they graduate from the university and get rewarding jobs. Unfortunately, he finds himself still having to cater for his children for the many years they have to go hob-hunting.

This accounts for a high level of financial dependence among Nigerian youths, particularly graduates. You find young men and women of 25 years and above still depending on their parents or relatives to survive. The young men understand the need to be financially free; some however are just lazy and blame government for their predicament. On the other hand, the young ladies believe that nature has ordained the man to take care of them. They see it as the man’s obligation to provide for them financially. Even some wives still depend totally on their husbands financially. This is the situation in Nigeria, and it is quite understandable. But we all need to learn to be financially free, especially young ladies who even with rewarding jobs still look up to their parents or a male sponsors.

This is not to say that financial freedom is for the woman alone. However, the emphasis is on them because they tend to be more dependent financially. As a child, the woman like the man is responsibility of the parent, until she becomes an adult. As an adult the man assumes the responsibility of raising a family by getting married. But for the woman a man takes over from where the parents stop. This is without prejudice to independent ladies. It is just an explanation of a natural scenario which today’s woman should understand and overcome so that she would not see marriage as an opportunity to transfer her financial responsibility to the man.

Brandice Allen, in her opinion, explains that gone are the days when women should depend entirely on the men for their needs. A woman at 35 should be financially free whether married or unmarried. By financial freedom we mean an independent source of income for your expenditure.

Brandice Allen is now a senior at Howard University. A premed student, who learned early to save her money despite shopping temptations at the mall, recommends the best practices for staying in charge of your finances. She tells her story.

“When I got my first job, I was 15. I thought I would be able to buy clothes and have lots of extra cash to spend that is; until my mother recommended that I always save half of my pay check.

It was 1995; I was working at Edy’s Grand Ice Cream in Atlanta, and I needed the money; our household was headed by my mom, Sharon Allen, and she was raising my older brother, Michael; my Twin sister Candice; and me with little outside help. Because I was a minor; my mother opened a custodian account at her bank in my name so I could learn how to plan my spending and how to save and invest despite the many shopping temptations at the mall.

At 21 I have built my own financial safety net and it has helped me through college in ways I will continue to benefit from in the future. For example, a small financial cushion made it possible for me to take advantage of summer programs and unpaid internships that have better prepared me for my ultimate goal of becoming a physician. Last spring semester I had the savings that enabled me enjoy New York City as an exchange student at Columbia University without employment?”

Allen’s story may not sound challenging or motivating enough for most Nigerian youths, on the premise that the situation over there in developed countries is different from the situation here in a developing country like Nigeria. But Allen is saying that it is not the place but the person. And until we realize this fact and buckle up to become financially free we may remain financially dependent even in America, or with the best of jobs in the world.

It is no secret that most Nigeria youths who complain that there is no job spend money they could have saved on unnecessary wants. The young ladies cannot do without trendy fashion in vogue. Some young men would say they have a business proposal but no finance to execute it. It does not occur to them that the little money they spend drinking and buying gifts for their girlfriends could amount to something when saved.

In her words, Brandice Allen says, “I prioritize, budget carefully and re-evaluate my financial situation on a regular basis. I have created a worksheet that I use each month to keep track my spending and savings. I have used this tool since my first job. And I constantly focus on buying only what I need instead of everything I want.”

Allen explains that she is not the penny pinching nerd who never has any fun. I am a sister with a plan; headed for medical school, a rewarding carrier, she says, and other goals I have set to achieve. In other words, to save is not to starve or deprive oneself of one’s needs. It is to have a plan and set your priorities right, be disciplined and focused at your goals. It begins now, saving little by little to invest much more, later. It may not be easy at the beginning but in the end you would find it is worth the trouble.

So you can start today and secure your financial future. Learn to monitor your expenditure; invest and save more. It is one thing to save a little from what you get daily, weekly, or monthly; it is another thing to invest and secure your savings. Brandice advises that keeping abreast with the stock market, and reading related books will be very helpful in knowing where, when, and how to invest.