Susan earns enough money to put her in the class of Lagos big girls, but always ends up broke before the end of each month. She works in a bank on the Island earning ₦550,000. “But how come I still have to call my friends to lend me 20k before payday?”, she always wonders.
Ibrahim is in the same shoes. A photographer doing fairly well for himself, he’s married with a five-month-old baby girl who has added more color to the young couple’s lives. His business makes millions of naira each quarter. He has four boys working with him – four other mouths he feeds. His problem too is, he always has to take out a loan to meet up with his responsibilities. “When will this ever stop?” he thinks.
These two are like most of us in this generation. We are not doing bad financially; at least, we have a job or business that puts food on our table. Yet, when we think of what our parents were able to achieve with their resources when they were like us versus what we’ve managed to do now, omo! (a Nigerian street way of expressing shock/surprise). Many of our parents were able to acquire assets, fund projects, even start and sustain families comfortably with their ‘meager’ income back then, compared to our experience now.
So, what’s responsible for this? Was it because money had more value then? Or things were cheaper? Or were they more prudent?
Yes, we can argue about the value of money then versus now. Let’s leave the debate to financial analysts. This conversation is about those lifestyle choices and attitudes that made the difference for our parents back then, which many of us would benefit from if we could imbibe now. Here they are:
- They lived a minimal lifestyle. Of course, technology in their time wasn’t as advanced as we have it now, so they didn’t even have any choice. But many of us now have a lot to maintain. Our phones, tabs and others eat a chunk of our money day in day out.
- They lived within their budget. It’s okay to enjoy a luxurious life – eating at fancy restaurants, riding privately, buying premium flight or event tickets, so far one can conveniently afford it. Trouble starts when we do these things because we want to feel among. Then we have to borrow to sustain a lifestyle.
- They mostly ate home cooked meals. Most guys are in this circle. “There’s no time.” “I’m too lazy to cook.” “It’s just for today.” These are some of the excuses they give for eating out. Our parents practically cooked all their meals every day, even with their busy schedules, almost like they hated restaurant food. Well, they were able to save money that way. This brings us to the next point.
- They had a savings plan. Many of them had what they called ‘kolo’, a sealed wooden box where they kept money for a period of time, mostly yearly. That enabled them to have a lump sum of money at different points to execute definite projects. Of course, we also have bank accounts now where we save. The issue is, we access our money everyday with our ATM cards, transfers, so the money never gets to really accumulate for a while. Another thing is, many of these accounts give very low or no interest rates, so we don’t get much at the end of the day on our money.