Mummy, how much money do you make?

Updated: May 16, 2021

Dear Africana Woman,

Have you ever been asked by your child, how much money you get paid. See I start to look left and right for who can hear my answer. Then I consider what to say exactly because this child’s middle name is also BBC or CNN. I personally don’t like to lie but then I think about where this will be repeated, because I just told Aunty So&So that I did not have money to lend her. But if Junior happened to mention that Mummy makes such and such much I can just hear the long drawn out chip (that clicking sound or sucking of teeth that we Africans make often to express displeasure) followed by the rant on how stingy and greedy I am oh. Remember dis child has asked me a question and I have been looking at him for the last 5 minutes with a blank expression picturing all the different scenarios of what could happen if I told him how much money I make. Finally, I settle with, "I make enough." What is your answer ayi? 

Well in all seriousness as a child grows up they are learning about all things from different sources. They learn about money, sex, relationships and emotional intelligence either from you, their friends or media. They also learn these things consciously from what is told to them directly and indirectly through observation. It is fascinating how parent’s assume that school automatically teaches children how to handle money. Think about it you are a professional with a degree, masters or phd, but at which point did your teachers, or professors ever sit you down to talk about money? Whether it be budgeting, saving, investing, insurance, good money mindsets, and financial literacy? It does not happen because everyone assumes the other is doing the educating. Parents assume their child will learn at school. Teachers assume(if at all) their students are learning this from home. 

At best the child will internalize the way money is spent in the household  by observation. We all know those well paid individuals who are always broke and you sit and wonder what does this chick do with her money. I know when I was growing up I was raised in a middle income household. What I observed was nkongole (getting items on credit to be paid later), wholesale purchases, and what seemed to be a hand to mouth lifestyle. This means that through out the month we would get say chicken or rice on nkongole then by the time the salary comes in at month end all debts would be paid out and it's like the money might as well have not hit your account. How this translated into my adulthood is me not understanding what living within my means is. My budget never accommodated savings, or insurance instead it was a hope that after rent, groceries and transport, if something is left then that can be put away as savings, but then that extra is already swallowed up from my nkongole, and so the vicious cycle continues.