‘My financial future will be brighter than my past.’
Following my recent article, Be In The Know, I received some feedback from some of my readers. There are those who felt that the article was in favor of women at the expense of the boy child. Others gave their perspectives regarding why married women do not appear to know what is going on with their family finances or investments. Some men saw how their fathers had left out their mothers from managing or possessing any wealth and this led them to change the narrative.
My family and I recently traveled to visit my parents. A few days prior, I had listened to Gems & Nuggets, a local podcast, where one Angie Murenga had stated that those who have the privilege of having their parents alive should seek to find out how they managed their challenges and how they have done life. Therefore, I posed a couple of questions to my parents during the visit.
As you probably know by now, my father is an extrovert. He was keen to explain how they struggled to make ends meet. He also explained how their backgrounds influenced their views especially on money. My mother was the quiet one all this while, that’s her gentle nature, and chimed in when the story was a bit off or he had forgotten the events. It was good to see how they compliment each other in that way. After listening to their financial journey, I was keen to understand why my father kept referring to himself in most of the financial decisions that needed to be made.
Your background plays a big role in how you manage your finances. If you are reading this, you are aware that our society has largely been patriarchal. Women were not allowed to participate in financial matters in many parts of the world. My parents grew up in that generation. Women had little say on anything. A woman who wished to withdraw money from her own bank account would require the signature of a man, and I dare say any man even if not known to her.
Why is this important? It shaped how my parents handled finances. It was expected that my father would make all the financial decisions without considering his wife’s opinions. Properties were bought in the name of the man. Wives names’ did not appear in the property documents. Following this conversation with my parents, I got to understand why men my father’s generation behaved the way they did. I know many have made efforts now to include their wives in critical financial matters and also make provision for inheritance for their daughters.
What you observe is what you model. My husband and I have different approaches to money. He is the spender and I am the saver. Our backgrounds are quite different. Growing up, I observed how my mother made a lot of sacrifices for us, bearing in mind her earnings. She denied herself a lot to ensure we were taken care of. I did not realize that I had actually taken up after my mother. I would deny myself for the sake of my family. On the other hand, my husband’s spending would irritate me. He seemed to be having a good time and I felt that I was the only one making the sacrifices. The issue however was that I wished I could do what he did. My mother had noted that I had taken up after her on the spending habits and cautioned me against being ‘stingy’ with myself. This was important so as to avoid being bitter with myself later on in life. Let’s just say this is work in progress.
Take advantage of the times we are in. During this visit, my parents made it clear to us that we are a privileged lot due to the experiences we have, wealth of knowledge at our disposal and even incomes we earn. It is incumbent upon us to do something beautiful with all the information that we have. Despite our backgrounds that affect how we view or handle money, it is important that we take advantage of our current circumstances and use our resources for our good. They had noted some areas where we could consider avoiding wastage of resources. There is no doubt that we are facing some of the most challenging times in this world. That notwithstanding, there are many opportunities that are available that allow us to diversify our incomes.
Despite your background, you can make it. We can see how our backgrounds shape our views of money and spending habits. It is important to appreciate that some of our experiences have shaped who we are. However, if there is room to change, work on becoming a better person. You can still make it even though your background may not be beautiful.
The Bible has answers to our daily questions and issues. One of our mentors, Rev. Munengi Mulandi, talks to many couples on marriage and money. He made me have a good understanding of Ecclesiastes 11, especially on the importance of diversifying income streams. He made a powerful statement. ‘If we fail to follow what the Bible says, we are sinning’. There are many verses that touch on financial planning, hard work, adoration of money, time opportunity to grow investments and how to manage debts. We have to obey the Bible in totality.
There are many books out there on financial freedom and success. You can read them. But there is one Book that provides sound advice and that is the Bible. I pray that you will study the Word of God if finances are of concern to you. I know you will find answers to these questions.
I am on a path of self-discovery and coming to terms with why I act the way I do. I am coming to appreciate how my past shapes my future. I hope I will not be held back by my past, but only allow the positive attributes to continue influencing the actions I take. I am also learning to change some of the negative financial habits I have. I trust you will do the same. With God, it is possible to change our destinies.
‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12.2