One of the greatest skills you can learn in life is how to be smart with your own money. And contrary to the misconception of many who are struggling with their finances, you actually don’t need to wait till you have a million dollars to learn how to be smart with your money. It’s not only those working for multinational oil majors or models plying their trade from Milan to Paris and of course, London, who need to be smart with their money. Be you a regular nine-to-five office worker or a gardener or even a primary school teacher, we all need to be smart with our money, which for many people is the salary alone. You must have read of the sorry tales of many former Nigerian footballers and artistes who earned much early in life, but died in penury. Learning to be smart with your money can never have a best before date.
When I did volunteering work with a homeless charity based near Elephant and Castle in London, a few years ago, some of the users of the facility and other protested whenever I told them that in order to sort out their personal finances they should start small and save £5 each month. A fiver looks ridiculous, but you’ll be surprised at the number of those who can’t boast a few weeks after getting paid.
Some have told me that how do I expect them to save that little or be smart with their money when they have so little or even don’t have any to start with. You too might be wondering, ‘how do I get to be smart with my money when it doesn’t stretch to the middle of the month to start with?’ You are right and in fact could go ahead and hire a lawyer to defend your position in a court of law. The truth of the matter is that whether you earn £100 a month or just N30,000, or £20,000 a week like some premiership footballers, you will do yourself a huge favour by making no excuses to learn this lesson.
If you don’t, your money will slip through your fingers without you knowing it. As a matter of fact, you may even be the one gladly signing it away, hoping it will bring you some good returns in the future. If you don’t want to experience some form of Abracadabra – the more you look, the less you see- with your personal finance, then you need to acquire this almighty skill. One interesting thing about those who already have the skill is that they always want to get smarter with the money they have. I saw an interesting headline about investors rushing to own a bit of prime location at the West End in the City A.M, earlier this week. That’s how the smarties do. They want more – never begrudge them. Whereas, those on the other side of the divide just carry on doing the same thing they’ve always done with their money. It’s one of the reasons why the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.
Knowing how to be smart with your money means you know how to optimise it. That means that none of your funds leaves your account or wallet (or even under your pillow or mattress) without you being aware of why you’re letting it go. When you learn to be smart with your money, you’ll even be able to keep fraudsters at bay, even if they dress smartly like the gentleman I came across recently.
Learning to be smart with your money will make you know when to instantly switch on your antenna like I did while on the way home from work a couple of weeks ago. I’d come off the Southwestern train that brought me from Clapham junction to Victoria station, and still needed to take the tube nearer home, which I did. As soon as I got on the Northbound Victoria Line train, a smartly dressed black chap, with the features of a Somalian joined me in the same carriage ,just before the train headed towards Green Park.
My fellow commuter and African brother looked respectable, and in fact seemed decent enough that you couldn’t have suspected that he was a conman and a fake believer rolled into one.
…To be continued.
Oyedoyin, founder of the Money Intelligence Coaching Academy®, lives in the UK