To the next ten years

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Gofaone Nina Tladi

I have an unhealthy obsession with Instagram, and thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s genius, my time line is filled with quotes about money and staying on track for both my financial and health goals, Twitter and Facebook are full of pop ups from banks, investment managers and financial planning advisors etc. These are bouts of encouragement throughout my day, I also have friends who are influencers, my likes and views are helping them earn, so that they have evidence when their parents ask them “Kante ware o dira eng sentle ntle?” My first week since payday has been smooth, I am nervously aware of how far I have to go to reach my financial goals and I am on budget even after getting my nails done, you type different with a fresh pink gel manicure.
By society’s standard I am a failure. I am a 28-year-old unwed woman, no child and all the other things a woman of my age should possess to be deemed on the right track. I am certainly not a success by Instagram standards in so far as my peers’ weddings, magadi, baby showers and Thailand posts whereas the highlight of my week is that I need one more stamp on my The Daily Grind loyalty card to get a free coffee and ensure timely submissions of this column. Fortunately, my mother is not vocal should she feel any such disappointment in me as her daughter or the pressure of her friends and church mates for a reciprocal wedding invitation. Thanks Mama! In her Ted Talk, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie makes a statement that I can relate to, she says, “…we are all social beings, we internalize things from our socialization…” We all want to be seen by society or at least our families to be successful and when this is not the case we feel an overwhelming sense of misdirection and even failure which leads us to abandon the sound financial principles we know we need to attain lasting financial wellbeing. Most of the financial losses we’ve suffered and the bad habits we have are because of this pressure to look the part.
One of the fails of life are high school reunions, reunions of any kind actually; they are nothing more than a “who has the most money, who is still single, who has the best children contest.” My 10-year high school reunion was in 2018, fortunately, we all agreed we weren’t ready, so we have given ourselves another ten years to get it together. I have ten years to learn, unlearn and relearn the principles that will set me and my family up for life, with or without the money in my account right now, if I have the principles right, I will always be able to make money. This reminds me of the story of a wealthy man who, when his son was of age, gave him money and a journal which contained the rules for financial freedom and set his son on his way to a foreign country. His simple request is that his son return after ten years as a respected man of means. This was a test to ensure that his son would not mishandle his wealth, should he fail his father would donate all his wealth to charity. This son and the majority of us are in the same WhatsApp group, he squandered the money his father gave him in no time and was left without money, working odd jobs and then when he finally comes to his senses he takes out his father’s journal and reads and from there starts to implement the 5 laws for making, multiplying and managing money. This story is a lot like the prodigal son in the bible, anyway, his father gives him these simple laws:
•    Save ten percent of all your income;
•    Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, when you prepare by saving, opportunities to invest will definitely come;
•    Get advice about money from people who have experience in the laws of money;
•    Ignorance is bliss, but it is extremely expensive and will eventually undermine everything you have worked hard for; and
•    Be patient, be able to learn, unlearn and relearn what you can about money.
After 10 years he returns home and gives an account of the past 10 years. He gives his father one bag of money as a repayment of the initial amount he had been given and then he presents two additional bags of money to his father as a thank you for the journal; which he came to realize was of far much value than the bag of money ever was. His father is overjoyed and extremely proud that his son had learned this valuable lesson and reinstates him as heir to his  wealth.* I believe in simplicity, the basics and as I make my way through this journey, I rely heavily on the simplicity of this whole process, that it is truly the small things done over time that make the greatest impact. Beyoncé was not built in one day and neither was Dr Steven Strange, one of my favourite Marvel Movies (superhero movies e.g. Avengers, Thor, Black Panther). Dr Strange is a neuroscientist and when asked by his master how he came to know all the complexities of his work, his response was simply, “study and practice, years of it.” I have armed myself with several books about money and emotional intelligence, I know I’m not the only one who wants to go buy something when they are sad, or happy, give me a card of cash in a mall and I will forget all my problems.
So, for the next 10 years I will be consistent in learning and practicing the simple laws of money. There is a Chinese proverb that says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is now.” We should all have this proverb on our vision boards. I look forward to my high school reunion, hopefully after we exchange the shallow, who has more pleasantries, we are all happy, healthy and grateful to have made it to that point alive. But also, really want to come dressed like Victoria Beckham, smelling like success and say, le a e itse Gucci?
PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent. Next week we discuss Insurance-the misunderstood child of the financial sector.
*Clason, George S. (1988) The Richest Man in Babylon, Penguin Books Ltd, England*

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