Be still my beating heart,
For I can take no more,
No more hurts, no more pain,
Pain which comes shortly after the anguish,
Anguish over the sea of emotion before me.
Be still my beating heart,
For I know not how to swim,
Swimming is for the brave,
The brave who dear not the unknown,
The unknown, the yet to come, the unexpected.
Be still my beating heart,
Hold still my beating heart,
Hold steady while my brain wins,
Wins this battle of wits and smiles,
Smiles that make butterflies flutter in my belly.
Be still my beating heart
While I clutch my belly in fear and anguish
In fear of the untold happiness
Happiness behind the ever after
The ever after that never comes.
Be still my beating heart,
For you can take no more,
Stay still my beating heart,
While we cross this troubling sea of emotions,
Hold my brain, be still my beating heart.
So I have been approached several times in the last few months by self-declared uncles and aunts demanding (I mean DEMANDING) an update on my future. I say future but you should read it as romantic entanglement. You would understand my misery if you have African, particularly, Nigerian aunts who have started saving stomach space for your wedding reception food since you got your first period, barring the fact that they are not saving money for your aso ebi (because, we are family, why should they pay for aso ebi).
Ignoring the audacity of some of this people to even ask me such questions, I start to wonder why the sudden interest, it's not like I don't have time. I mean you generally have till your mid-twenties before you start to become stale agege bread that is palmed off to someone else in a mock show of affection.
Amidst mild annoyance (read severely annoyed) and amusement, I suddenly realise I AM OF THAT AGE. Wait what?! How could I be in my mid-twenties yet - I am still a baby girl, looking to conquer a chocolate and vanilla parfait recipe while on a nutritional and financial diet - I am nowhere near ready for romantic entanglements. I am not ready to give up my life to be with someone else, and if you are thinking she must have a darn great life to not want to give it up, you are wrong my friend. I have only started coming to terms with the reality that is the Nigerian labour market and now I have to navigate the landmine that is a typical Nigerian relationship. Frankly, that is just too much too soon.
I mean, the idea of a spouse would not be so terrifying to me if I lived in an alternate universe where gender stereotypes and cultural believes do not belittle my dreams, ambition and achievement (what little I have amassed thus far) for the glorification of that of said spouse. Yes, in my universe, I am a total bad-ass who has a grocery-carrying spouse who makes a mean seafood ramen and can double-park without being Jason Statham on the road.
To be fair, all this is Big Woman Talk because the minute I overheard my dad asking my mum why I wasn't introducing my boyfriend to them I started to think maybe I should be searching for the elusive one. :( I mean, I have only started coming to terms with the whole adulthood thing whereby I have to make my way and earn money (real money - not the stuff yo make smiling at primary school kids on school visits to my university - REAL DOUGH)... and now I have to find companionship - whatever happened to Ben and Jerry's sigh!
So in light of this amazing adulting revelation, I have decided to explore the possibly of "finding love".
Let love find you. Don't go looking for it. The best way to attract a mate is to post an ad on Craigslist titled, "Have lube, will travel."
- Jarold Kintz, Love quotes for the ages. Specifically ages 18-81
Anyhoos, so like the lady that I am (pleasant and submissive to the t, ha!), I will take on Jarold's tip and post an ad in Punch Newspaper looking for the ultimate mate. Because when you do not have Craigslist (although City People's classified ads are pretty darn close), you go with the widely read national paper - Go big or go home.
p.s. I wouldn't post in punch because who has money for that, but I would totally pay for a friend to be in there in a Wanted: Girlfriend, will pay type ad, just so I can see the kind of candidates we get. Please friends, let me use you as a social experiment :D.
If like me you feel like you are struggling to be an adult mostly because adulting is probably the biggest lie we were told as kids, then you may find that seemingly innocent things like having money can be a problem. I personally thought the minute I start working full-time, I would be fine financially and not have to worry about money so much - ah! fat chance.
So for my piece of mind, I decided to make committed plans to secure my financial future even if the present looks somewhat bleak. Below are some of the things I am currently doing and hope they will help you to also build towards your money future.
1. have financial goals
The one thing that marks being an adult more than anything else is having obligations, responsibilities and wants. While these monetary pulls may be different for everyone, the one thing that rings true is the need to identify them and plan towards them.
Knowing your obligations while help you create a budget to meet whatever financial goal you have. For me, one of my goal is to move into my own apartment by next year so I have included saving towards rent in my financial goal.
Setting both short term and long term financial goals will help you stay grounded in your financial foundation as well as helping you track your financial journey. You should work/save towards both your short term and long term goals simultaneously so you are not left with numerous partially fulfilled goals.
2. draw up a budget
Draw up a monthly budget stick to it. Your budget should include all your incomes (including your side hustle) and expenses (yes, include that sneaky bi-weekly meat-pie purchase). In your budget, you should propose how much you would spend on rent, petrol, etc. and how much you want to save or invest and then update this regularly as you become more aware of your finances or as necessary.
When drawing up your budget, keep in mind the 50/30/20 rule. The rule states that no more than 50% of your salary should be dedicated to essential expenditure such as rent, bills and groceries; not more than 30% of your salary should be dedicated to non-essential expenses such as social outings and shopping while a minimum of 20% of your salary should be dedicated towards savings, debt and financial buffers such as emergency funds.
The great thing about having a budget is that it helps you see which areas you can cut back on and how much you can save each month. Not only is the smart thing to do, it also helps keep track of your net worth to some degree.
3. create a financial buffer
If you want to be financially secure, one of the first things people tell you to do is to save. While this is true, saving haphazardly is just as bad as not saving at all. So when saving, you should consider creating a financial buffer in a separate current or savings account.
4. make big purchases carefully
When it comes to big ticket items like buying a house or car or even renting in Nigeria (where rent is paid annually), you should do extensive research and sleep on it before making the final purchase.
5. build an emergency fund
When it comes to attaining financial adulthood, a good place to be is having an emergency fund worth 6 months of discretionary expenses. If like me, you are just starting out in the working world, you should start by building up your funds to a minimum of 3 months’ worth of discretionary expenses within the first 6-9 months (this is why having a budget is important). You should then build up gradually until you have at least 6 months’ worth. You should save a bit more in your emergency fund if you do not have a steady stream of income or if your sector is very volatile.
You can make use of direct debits or savings plans within your existing bank account – some banks will allow you create a savings goals and facilitates direct debit into that savings goal account. Check out UBA online banking platform.
6. start your pension fund today!
A common mistake many people make is to say they will start saving for retirement when they are making more money or when they are slightly older. You should start on your pension fund the minute you start to earn money. Most employers will enrol you automatically in a pension fund and remit on your behalf, however, you still have to choose the best fund administrator your you.
If you are self-employed or unemployed, you can possibly open a personal annuity plan or a deferred annuity plan. A personal annuity plan is like a pension plan as your pre-retirement monthly/quarterly/yearly contributions will provide you with guaranteed income post-retirement. While a deferred annuity is a minimum 5-year plan will allows you make regular contribution towards a future post-retirement income and can be purchased in addition to an existing Retirement Savings Account.
You should be thinking about how much you will need monthly post-retirement as that will determine how much you need to put into your pension fund.
Similarly, if you determine that you normal monthly pension contribution is not sufficient to reach your retirement goal, then you can make additional monthly contributions to your retirements fund.
You can calculate how much you need in your pension fund using this pension calculator.
7. payday planning
Payday can be particularly tricky for many people, particularly people who have just started working. Getting that credit alert tends to make us (me included) giddy with excitement and my hands itching to spend. But without proper planning, what tends to happen is that we spend frivolously on eating out, that nice shoe or Fitbit tracker we have been secretly eyeing online. This sort of spending pattern not only causes you to be a little dry towards the end of the month (if your monies can survive that long) but it can mean you could be in a serious situation should you have an unexpected bill come through.
The proper way to approach payday is to plan around pay day. Firstly, ensure your budget for the month has been drawn up and you have looked at your expensive for the just concluding month. This will enable know which areas you can cut down on to accommodate an upcoming expense or how you can save more. Next, you should make your savings immediately you get paid either by setting up direct debits or manually. I transfer into my savings and investment accounts the day after I get paid and set reminders on my phone to prompt me. Once you have made your savings and funded your investment account, you should try to separate your money into separate accounts. I have 3 different accounts (all with separate debit cards). I usually transfer 40% of my salary into one to cover essentials such as petrol, internet, and groceries, then I transfer 20% into a second account for social expenses. I leave the remaining cash in my salary account as back-up until the end of the month when I transfer 80% of whatever is left in there to my various savings plans or accounts.
8. buy insurance!!!
One of the most important things you can do is to buy health. This will mean you are not left out of pocket or unable to afford medical cost should you need to. I recommend getting a silver level health insurance plan at least as these usually provide more medical coverage for a fraction more than basic plan.
If you have a workplace health insurance plan (HMO) then you should ask your HR manager to see the benefit coverage and visit the hospital you plan to select as your primary care centre prior to choosing a HMO provider. This will enable you determine if you require additional cover for yourself or your family.
In addition to health insurance, you should be buying comprehensive property insurance – particularly car and individual all risk plan. These will ensure you are covered for repairs due to accidents or even theft of your car or gadgets.
9. keep track of everything
Knowledge is power, hence I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping track of everything – your expenses as well as all your income. This will enable monitor your spending and income pattern. You should be making note of both big and little purchases so you don’t get to the end of the month and start to wonder where your money went.
While you can keep track of everything manually via a notepad, scraps of paper and your ever strong mental capability, apps like Daily Budget (Apple users) and Saving Made Simple (Android users) can help your track your cash inflows and outflow and also giving you a graphical representation of your finances. (shout out to Fab from Daily Kobo for recommending these apps)
10. reward yourself
When it comes to savings and planning for financial stability, it is important to reward yourself because the human psychology is such a wonderful thing that it responds well to encouragement. Your rewards can range from a meal at a restaurant you are dying to try or a pair of the latest Nike shoes or even a new phone. These things not only help you stay on track, they let you (and others) know you are being making progress.
You can work your reward into your financial goals, for example, saying you would buy yourself a new dress if you save at least 10% of your salary or going to a fancy restaurant with friends if you manage to spend less than 60% of your salary that month.