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.
Talking about money in an African home is also seen as rude and a taboo. On the one hand there is a school of thought that children should not be burdened with financial matters, they should be allowed to live a care free life. And another thought is that money is simply none of their business. I like to think of it this way, compare the number of hours over 15 years that you teach your child household chores in comparison to teaching them about finances. Ask yourself, is your child more qualified to be a domestic worker or a CEO. Our society must get comfortable with talking about money especially to children. Saving is a muscle that needs to be developed. Think about when you exercise, the more you use a muscle the stronger it becomes. The same is true for the opposite. If a muscle is not utilised it stays weak. Imagine if children learned from early on the discipline of putting away money to attain a certain goal. We would shatter the instant gratification culture that is so prevalent today. But be warned it is not enough to just àteach children how to save. We have to teach them how to make their money work for them. They need to know financial terminology, investing options, the importance of insurance, different types of income sources, funding sources, the value of land ownership to name but a few.
You may be thinking, but I don't know those things myself. My answer is simple, educate yourself. In this day and age ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse. You have the internet on your fingertips. Buy books. Talk to friends and family who can mentor / coach you. Find an accountability partner who will help you reach your financial goals. Let go of the ego. If we want to create a brighter future for our children we need to be more intentional about how and what they learn about money and then we can begin to build true generational wealth. Ignorance is simply not an option. There are also a ton of resources from YouTube videos, podcasts, and Facebook groups that can help you start this journey.
Picture yourself in a relay race where the goal is to move a baton from point A to B where a huge prize awaits you. The rules state you cannot go all the way to the end by yourself, therefore, you place your children and their children at different points on the track so as the baton is handed over to the next generation until the final destination is reached. Now imagine reaching old age and you have no passive income and no life insurance. This means that your children are spending their money on your upkeep, medical bills and eventually your funeral expenses plus a tombstone ( which we all know amounts to buying land). This is the equivalent of you dropping the baton at point A and now your child has to run backwards to pick it up before they can run forward to continue the race. Consider how long paying your expenses & debt would take them before they got back to their starting point. How old would they be? Think about how far they are then able to go forward from their starting point after having to run backwards and back. Would they still be of working age? Will history repeat itself, where your grandchildren are also running backwards instead of forward? When will your team, your family ever reach point B?
I hope you rethink talking about money to to your children. You don't have to be perfect at it but making the effort will make so much more of a difference in their lives and of your grandchildren. Be the parent whose inheritance to your children is not your problems, but a stepping stone. Sweetheart, I gotta get some rest. Remember you can always chat with me on Instagram @chulu_bydesign. I will also be hosting an intimate retreat for women called KNOW your Purpose on the 15-16 August. Contact me for more information. If you want to dive deeper into these conversations, come on over to the Africana Woman FB group. And you are always welcome to be a guest blogger by submitting a story you think is relevant for the Africana Woman community. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Sweety I love you. Have an awesome week. Always love yourself, flaws n all, and attract the life you deserve.