Act your wage


“We tend to base our self-esteem on what other people think and that is not really self-esteem. Self-esteem is supposed to be how we view and feel about ourselves and it is extremely dangerous to allow other people to determine how you are going to feel about you. It is like looking into a broken mirror and then wanting to change your face to try to look good in this defiled, and broken mirror. Other people’s opinions is a terrible way to determine how we feel about yourself.”-Will Smith
Money is the invention of man and yet it rules so much of our lives, even how we view others and even ourselves. For many people, their self esteem is based on how much money they have. I call it, their “ number” . We esteem people who have a lot of money and often times idolize them. We all have a number. The number ascribed to our work, intellect, social standing etc and it is the number that stares back at us on the 20th, 25th, 1st or whatever day it is that you get paid.
Never mind the number that was promised on the page you signed, because like VAT, it does not belong to you really. A friend recently got a new job offer and I advised him to make his calculations based on his net pay and not his gross as the “ increase” may not result in more in his pocket. The number at the bottom right hand side of your payslip is either the small balcony or flush green backyard you have to work with, it is your number. It is not what you have, but what you do with what you have.
If you want to live your best life, on your terms and not place your value on this number, you need to learn to live below your means. Every financial guru I follow has given this advice, simple but profound and so hard to follow. The difference between your means and your lifestyle is your margin of safety. This margin of safety is what allows you to turn things around in your finances. This margin of safety enables you to save, build wealth, give and the big one for many Batswana -get out of debt!
When I was child, my grandmother would tell me all the time to save. She would give me coins to buy sweets. I would have to head home and show her my purchase and she would let me have one a day, “ Ipeele ngwanganke, o seka wa jela mo ganong.” (Save some my child, don’t eat them all) Many of us were taught this when we were younger but it went out the window as soon as we started to earn an income and like children “ re jela mo ganong”. Our inability “go ipeela” is alarming.
Dave Ramsey says, “ adults devise a plan and stick to it, children do what feels good at the time.” Though we are adulting, many of us are doing what feels good at the time and as a result we are living far beyond our means. We don’t act our wage! Many of us have made a habit of living beyond our means, and make up for the deficit with debt.
One of the dangers of debt is that it has allowed people to live a lie. If you have ever had a credit card or overdraft facility, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you don’t have the money to pay cash for it, you can not afford it. Go back to the drawing board and be honest with yourself. What is your portion? How can you live within it and prosper beyond it? What is your wage, it’s time to start acting like it. If you are unable to downsize, sacrifice for a little while to get back on track. Let us see where we can crack down on some of the excess in our lives in order to live below our means. If you can not downsize for atleast a year or two in order to get your finances in order then you care too much what other people think.
People who truly love and respect you will encourage you to live within your means and call you out when you aren’t. There is no shame in living below your means, sometimes you have to shut down all the fun to get your life together. If you have to take in a house mate because your rent is too high, do it! If you have to sell the car because the instalment, fuel, insurance and maintenance are killing you, do it! If you impulse shopped and have buyers remorse, return those items.
There is a relief and peace of mind that comes upon you when you act your wage. When you don’t try to keep up with others, you walk different and you start to see things clearly. Living within your means starts by knowing how much you have coming in and having a written plan of how you will utilise your income toward a goal. If you don’t know how much is coming in, tracking your money and cutting out things that cause you to cross the line of affordability then you will struggle with money.
Acting your wage is the secret of the everyday millionaires. I don’t know about you but I would like to have a couple millions to fall back on.
“There is no dignity quite so impressive and no independence quite so important as living within your means,”- Calvin Coolidge
PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent!
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