Financial education or the lack thereof
How are you all doing? Week off to a good start? If yes, wiggle your shoulders; if no, celebrate the people who are having a good start, your better days are ahead. Lately I’ve been watching a few channels of people who are getting out of debt and I find it so inspiring. While I’m not in debt (Thank God), I feel so much joy watching other people get financial freedom. However the one common thread I have noticed is that people don’t always get into debt cause they were “irresponsible with their money” contrary to what I believed. I have found that it often starts with an inevitable expense such as school, a medical bill or a lifestyle that you could once afford but no longer can; that snowballs with interest into an intimidating number that gives you anxiety.
I am always concerned about the stunning lack of financial education that I have received. I feel like I’m always a foul step away from doing lasting damage to my finances! It’s such a frustrating feeling because it seems like everything is mapped out till graduation but somebody forgot to mention the financial implications of that process or the life you will be embarking on. Yes you are earning a decent salary and that’s dandy but what next? Also don’t get me started on how taboo it is to talk about! You can’t ask someone in your field openly about how much they earn. We would rather go to Glassdoor -which is a great resource- to get the very same answer. We don’t speak openly about how people got into debt or even just the fact that you may be broke even though you’re working at a “really great job”. We live on credit so we can have a credit score and then proceed to die a slow death on credit because collections calls you religiously every week demanding a price much larger than what you actually spent.
I think talking about money is the next coming of age talk that everyone needs to have. We rightfully made such a big fuss about having the sex talk with pre-teens and adolescents so that they make informed decisions about their bodies and are aware of the changes ahead of them. We really need another “talk” for young adults. We need to demystify finances and speak more openly about our relationship with money and our mistakes. The system is certainly not built to support open communication on financial management but if we all share our lessons then maybe fewer people will feel so alone with the consequences of their financial decisions.
So here are some of my financial questions and if you have answers I’d love to hear them
- Why do we file taxes and why do we get money back when we do?
- Where can I check my credit score?
- Does checking your credit score really hurt your credit score? (This seems counter intuitive but I’ve heard it)
- When should you start investing?
- Who should you talk to about investing?
- What can you invest in?
- Has anyone tried WealthSimple? Is it really intuitive? Is it truly “simple” to understand?
- What’s the best kind of credit card?
- What interest rate is reasonable for a savings account?
- How much do you need to save to own a home?
- Can you buy a home without a mortgage? If no, what’s the best kind of mortgage? [Best for me in this case would be defined as something that I’m not stuck paying for the rest of my life.]
- How do other people manage a budget? I’ve tried Excel but it just felt like a lot of work to maintain.
- When/how do you start saving for retirement?
- Do I need to set up a pension account?
- How do I separate what I’m saving for? Once my emergency fund is set up, what next?
Some helpful resources I’ve found online are
- The financial diet: They share helpful tips on managing money and are a great launching pad to start having some slightly more informed discussions on money
- Aja Dang: She is working to pay off her debt right now and is sharing her journey in detail. She also has a budget template available
- Levo League: This is more career related than directly financial however there are some interesting articles that could help bridge the gap.
I’d love to hear for you. What money questions do you have? Also, if you have answers to anything I asked above please help your girl out 🙂
Advice from my Grandmother
Bringing the Nigerian woman series back with some wise words from my Granny. For some reason, this memory has been at the forefront of my mind lately so I thought I’d share. On my first day of Primary school, she sat with my mother as my mum helped me into my “big girl” uniform. When my mother stepped out for a few minutes my Granny proceeded to hand me some major keys. It’s kind of funny to me how with the passing of time, her words have renewed meaning to me. Anyhow I’ll stop babbling on and get right into it.
The first thing she said to me was “neither a borrower nor a lender be”. Yes I’m aware that this is Shakespeare now but at the time I was none the wiser. At five this meant that when other kids at school would ask me to rip out paper from my notebook for their games, it was my responsibility to consider the consequences. First, my mother would have my ass if I ran out of pages in my book cause I was being the community vendor for table soccer. No friendship was really worth that. Plus the reverse of being the borrower was not safe either. Kids are mean and once you get that reputation of being the one who is always borrowing; its hard to shake the mockery. Later in life however, being discerning with borrowing and lending can save your friendships. There is nothing more uncomfortable than that feeling of debt whether you borrowed or loaned. You know that feeling when you see someone who owes you money faffing about on Snapchat or Instagram without a care or as would be the reverse, the feeling that you can’t take a breath without your debtor glaring at you. Either way, this is a philosophy I would recommend to anyone.
The second thing she said was “don’t let anybody see your pant”. This one caught me off guard to be honest but it was a lesson on avoiding pedophiles and men being scum 😛 . Okay maybe I’m reaching with that last bit but not by much I assure you. At five as you can probably imagine I took this very literally. There was nothing to suggest that this was really veiled caution against sexual predators. This lesson however came in handy a few weeks into Primary 1 when a two of my male peers at the time thought it would be cool to bring a small mirror to class and place it on the floor as a “peeping” apparatus -_-. When I found out, I stared the offender in the eye like Mowgli did Shere Khan and slapped him :). Ah the thought of my righteous retribution still makes me smile today. Fast forwarding a few years though, I feel what my Granny is saying to me now is that many people will make a case for why they are deserving of you; some convincing, some just creepy, but your vulnerability comes at a high price so act accordingly. I was raised in a society that constantly sexualizes women and like a double edged sword, shames them for indulging in anything sexual. For this reason I feel she was telling me to guard more than just my itty bitty fruit of the looms but to guard my heart as well.
Lastly, she said to me and still says to this day “be a good girl”. These are the all encompassing words of caution. If showing discernment in my dealings with others and guarding my heart weren’t enough to steer me on the right path, these were her final words to me that day. These words say to me remember where you come from, be kind and honest, honor your parents, be a blessing to all those you meet and live in peace with others.
Sometimes I wonder why she chose to tell me these things on my first day of school or if she told my mother these things as well but whatevrr it was, I’m glad she did.
Showered, changed, sitting in bed…
There’s something about Friday night that makes me not want to do squat. My hair is only half finished but I can’t be bothered right now. I certainly don’t feel like studying, as a matter of fact anything “productive” just seems too much right now. I was hoping to come up with something profound to say, something that I would read months from today, maybe years down the line and say “mehn I’m good”, but I simply can’t be bothered. I just want simplicity tonight.
Tonight reminds me of a painting I did a while back.
It really didn’t have some deep meaning, it was just fun to do and it made me feel good. I didn’t have to explain it, in fact an explanation would have soiled it. Tainted it with pretentious depth. I guess this Friday night is one to be alone with my thoughts. The utter randomness of this post probably testifies to that.
I’d probably paint my nails and watch Friends and pretend to have no responsibilities. Or maybe I’d try to think of a solution to world issues and then stumble on an amazing idea. Or I’d watch a disney movie, cry at the sad parts, then think of how the movie had underlying themes of gender or class inequality. I guess it really doesn’t matter what I do tonight. Not everything has to be deep and profound and meaningful. Like my professor told me today; “sometimes its enough to just notice certain things and not assign any meaning to them”. Tonight, I will explore my mind, its been a while since I just pondered for pondering sake.
I would make myself some tea but that requires moving. ughh. Yea I’d just sit here and not do that thank you very much.
nope! not going to…I shall not write a post about love in February!!
Alas here I am. February just has this insidious quality that shoves “love” down your throat 24/7. By the time March rolls around you’re so bored of the idea you don’t even want to talk about love anymore (I lie…I’m a hopeless romantic! I absolutely love love :D). Anyhow I was thinking about love the other day…it’s really quite complex for something so simple. For the most part, I generally say that I don’t know what love is but that’s just a ploy to avoid really thinking about it. My general guide to love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. You know, “love is patient, and kind…”; what I find fascinating though is that by this definition love is a truck load of work that promises little return. I suppose the return comes in the happiness you get when you see someone you love getting ahead in life or when you see them smile or those little things that people talk about in their wedding toasts. Or maybe love really has nothing to do with those little things. Maybe you can love somebody without liking them in the least bit. If you are patient and kind and you never envy but you rejoice in righteousness and all the pieces of that short passage maybe you have loved, but that doesn’t mean you like this person. Quite frankly you might just be loving an absolute jerk. I guess this is where “love those who hurt you” comes in cause you don’t have to like them but you have to love them. So maybe love isn’t really about going out to expensive dinners or spending every moment together or living your entire life like Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in the notebook. It seems to me that love is knowing that someone is probably going to mess up again but still giving them another chance. Love is when you have a crappy day but you’re still willing to listen to the other person complain about their day. Love is being upset with someone but still wanting the best for them.
If you ask me that seems extremely difficult cause on some level we all just want to look out for ourselves and do what makes us happy. Love finds happiness in the other person’s happiness. So I suppose when I say that I don’t know what love is, I really mean that I’m not ready to come to terms with what love is.
OR I could be completely wrong about this…oh well 🙂
You’ve held me down from day 1! and I mean that literally. For 19 whole years I’ve known you and everyday you’re brand new to me. I remember you waking up (against your will I know) to make my morning milo and when you would do “magic” tricks and make things disappear. Or the time when you told me I could have one wish on my birthday and that wish came true. Or all the times you would make me laugh when I was sick and when you would help me with my homework.
There were the times you would yell at me for being a little brat and all the times you would encourage me when I was too busy being a brat to believe in myself. But you know what’s really cool? all the friday night arguments and watching Girlfriends and Friends and Love and Hip Hop(don’t judge us) together. All the inside jokes, the made up songs, disturbing W and eating things we shouldn’t eat.
I guess what I’m trying to say is you’re the most special sister I could ever ask for. You’re beautiful, intelligent and for some reason you always know what to do (I know you’re laughing and saying “no I don’t” pfft). You’re charming, classy, goofy and lovable. So before this sister apprecation rant goes on forever and then I start bawling uncontrollably cause you’re so stinkin’ awesome…Happy Birthday! And I’m not just saying that in the regular “oh happy birthday slugger!” way, I mean have a truly happy birthday. Channel your inner Ms. Pearl and smile till your cheeks hurt. Laugh with useless abandon, well, cause you can! I love you more than words could explain. You rock!
Downy extra fresh 😀
My momma and sister were in San Fransisco late August and they were sweet enough to stop by Vera Bradley and pick up a little gift for me, well two little gifts. I vaguely remembered a couple of youtubers that I religiously watch, mentioning the brand but I had never looked into it. Now that I have…Vera Bradley is a color lover’s heaven!!
My mom and sister got me these really pretty hair pins and gel pens but what the store is really famous for are bags. They have bags in the same print as my hair pins (Cocoa Moss) which I thought was cute. I also loved how the receipt came in this pretty little envelope almost like I was rewarded for paying. Its always exciting when you find a new store to obsess over isn’t it? No? Just me? Weeell this is awkward… :p