Why Can’t I save?

Gofaone Nina Tladi

It’s payday today, I feel all the usual emotions: relief, joy and dare I say “security.” Through this process of breaking my cycle of the binge and the month-long hangover, knowing and counting to the seconds before the happy face text appears on my phone, I am extremely aware of how I spent my money given that I must write about it every week.
As I force myself to calm down from the high of payday, I whip out my laptop and do my budget, ensuring to pay myself first with my banking app as I go along. I tithe first, feeling what I can only describe as panic come over me, then I make the transfer to my emergency fund and then my investment account. The notification texts come one after the other and I just look at them and I’m almost sick to my stomach but I know I’m on the right track because everything has stopped being easy. I listen to Beyoncé to encourage myself through this entire process and remind myself why I started and I continue to fill in all the budget line items, ensuring my nails and deluxe pedicure are rightfully included. Despite doing all the right things, I feel downcast, the long road to financial freedom is lonely and laden with temporary fixes that constantly chant at me, to give up ‘me’ on voyage, patience seems impossible and saving is synonymous with patience, you can’t have the latter without it.
I love watching documentaries, especially about human behaviour. I remember one that was done on children, little boys and girls who were about five or six years old. A cookie was placed in front of them and they were told that they could eat the cookie after a certain amount of time, about five minutes and if they waited for ten minutes then they would get two cookies. Some of the children could barely wait a minute and ate the cookie and some waited the five minutes and were given the cookie. There was one little girl who distracted herself and played with toys and was given two cookies, this little girl’s parents made her learn an exercise in restraint! Fast forward twenty years, all of the children were interviewed and asked about their lives. The little girl who got two cookies was #Goals by any societal standards. She was that friend, cousin or sibling that your mom compares you to, “Bona jaaka o gaisiwa ke bankane ba gago!” The others who had very little restraint ended up with a challenging life; problems completing school, finding and keeping work, addiction and yes you guessed it, financial issues. It seems rather far-fetched that failure to wait a few minutes for a cookie would give a brief look into one’s future. I think the hardest part about saving is that we start from zero and are overwhelmed at how far we have to go.
If I could only learn patience, I would solve all of my financial woes.  The financial state of any nation is the sum total of all its citizen’s financial wellbeing, that being said if we are to improve our nation, we must all improve on an individual basis. The late Dr Myles Munroe said, “When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.” This is a sad truth, loans have taken the place of savings and we abuse the latter. We have lost the discipline of saving and as a result live hand to mouth, re jela mo ganong!  I implore you to start small, where you are, with what you have to save toward a short-term goal. Maybe like me you want to travel in December, you want a new lounge suite or a big screen TV or the Samsung S9+, make a plan and start saving up for it.
I want to get the proverbial second cookie, I believe we all do but lack the patience to do so. I start the short term saving and planning for my trip to Kasane. I write down a list of the things I will need for my trip, transport-Air Botswana, accommodation – Cresta, and all the activities I’d like to do while I am there. I approximate how much each of these will cost and jot them all down. I am a Motswana, I have been on more safaris than I can count, there are elephants ko morakeng but for some reason I can’t wait to see the elephants in Kasane. I have the total amount and that is my goal, the account I place the money in, I call it Moghel Goes on Holiday. I try to rope my friends in on my travel plans but unfortunately, if you have ever tried to plan a group trip, they almost always never come to fruition and I decide to go on this one alone.
PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent. It is the small things done consistently over time that make the greatest impact. Next week we discuss part 3 of our saving series- long term savings.