The habit of living within your means is so rare in this part of the world. Living above your means has become so normalised that many can’t see the financial dangers in it. Many people want to bambam. They want to chill with the big boys. After all, the problem no dey finish, they want to lavish, living la Vida Loca. They want to live the life of Otedola with their salary. Any little money they have na for enjoyment.
Every time people say, “there is no money in Nigeria. There is no money in this country. The economy is bad.” Yet, people spend an outrageous amount of money on parties. Even the close-to-broke middle class in the country always finds a way to throw a party. They waste so much on things that are far beyond their means. I won’t mention a particular tribe that does this the most so that the Yorubas won’t think I’m referring to them (note the sarcasm).
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The Concept of Living Within Your Means
Living within your means simply means spending money on only what you can afford and not more. Take, for instance, a woman who owns a big shop who had to close down for like a week to celebrate her aunt’s burial. When she returned, her shop was almost empty. Apparently, she had spent all her business money on a party for the dead. Isn’t that ridiculous??
It’s excusable for the older generation since they might not know the impact of savings and living within their savings. There is no excuse for you or me. Why? You have more than enough information and vital reasons to start and continue living within your means. Unfortunately, many still do the opposite. You see people using gadgets that they can’t afford.
In Nigeria, you are most likely to see a 23-year-old jobless youth with an iPhone 12. Some may even be working and receiving stipends as an excuse for salary. That same person will have a Macbook laptop and an iPhone 11. Some spend all their salary on shiny possessions that they don’t need. Even some new entrepreneurs want to make fast money. The little they get from their business, they spend on clothes, bags, shoes, and other materialistic things rather than boosting their business.
Living Within Your Means as a Nigerian
When it comes to financing, Nigerians are not so prudent. Many people live a lifestyle beyond their means to project an image of power and superiority. This is a country where if you don’t have money, you don’t have a say. Hence, people with enough change in their bank accounts want to oppress everyone. Everyone wants to show people that they have arrived. And they can go to any length to do that. Some people have turned clubs into their second home. Only one person will order 50 bottles of Hennessy VSOP, Champagne, and Moet.
Someone needs to do something about this financial behavior. You often don’t realize that living within your means is the best way to avoid financial ruin. In a country like Nigeria with no government stipend or allowance, you are on your own when you go broke. A financial crisis can lead to divorce. How many women are willing to suffer in their marriage and stick with their man when he is broke? A financial crisis can also lead to depression.
The depression of being broke is real oo. It can lead to alcohol or drug abuse. When some people’s wealth hits rock bottom, they find solace in drugs and alcohol until they become addicted, causing another problem for themselves. Some may commit suicide. There are many stories of people who owed a lot of debts and couldn’t pay up, so they jumped into the Lagoon or drank Sniper. May your portion not be like that.
You can avoid all of these if you choose to live within your means. As an artist once said, no go dey do pass yourself. When you know you can’t afford something, don’t go to any length to get it.
Benefits of Living Within Your Means.
There are many benefits to living within your means.
You can plan your future better. There is this level of relief and happiness that comes with knowing that you do not owe anyone and you are living within your means.
Being debt-free is one of the best feelings ever. It’s one thing to be broke, and it’s another thing to owe debts. The former can at least make you sleep at night, especially when you have plans to get out of your broke state. The latter can give you sleepless nights that even Valium 5 can’t cure. When you live within your means or below, you avoid unnecessary debts that give you insomnia. You don’t borrow money to buy materialistic things. Being out of debt also makes you save more and prepares you for any financial crisis or loss of a job.
You become richer
Living with your means allows you to save and plan more on what you want to do with your money. By that, you would be able to think about earning more money.
One of the best gifts that God can give a human is contentment. A contented person is the best type of person, especially when it comes to financing. A contented person isn’t bothered by trendy things. They are not flattered or bothered by what society will say if they don’t have or wear certain things others have. They are simply CONTENTED.
This doesn’t imply that they settled for less. As a matter of fact, many of them have more expensive tastes than covetous people, but they never go beyond their means. They know the repercussion of not being prudent with money. Living within your means comes with contentment, and a contented person has it all. Even the rich would be jealous of a contented because it would appear that you have more.
Read also: Stress management tips for Nigerians
There won’t be stressful when you know you are not doing more than yourself financially. Economic crises do not bother you because you’ve enough savings to survive. When you are content and fully aware of what you can’t afford, only important things will matter. You can’t come and go and kill yourself, LOL. When you are not competing with anyone, you’ll have no reason to lavish on your spending, and there won’t be any stress.
Bye to depression
Living within your means makes you happy that you have financial goals, and there is zero chance of depression. Take these two scenarios. One, a married man who knows he can’t afford certain things saves enough for his family’s upkeeps and invests in business to avoid going broke. Two, a man who goes to clubs, and parties and has the mentality of “another one will come let me enjoy this one first.”
Which of these men is most likely to go into depression when the realization sinks in? Note, that not everything is about money. Money is not always the cause of all depression, but having a fat account balance keeps you happy.
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Tips for Living Within Your Means
Now that you know the benefits that come with living within your means, you might be wondering how to go about it. It’s straightforward, as long as you are determined to be prudent.
Don’t buy if you don’t need
The number 1 thing is to avoid buying things that cost higher than your salary or income. Don’t buy something when you know it will wreck you financially. AVOID DEBTS biko!
Read also: How to stop impulse buying
Prioritise your needs and your wants
You have to learn how to separate your wants from your needs. Know what is essential and what is not. Identify the necessities like your transportation fare, utility bills, and others. Set them aside.
Who said you can’t enjoy your life when you live within your means? That’s a big, fat lie. You can enjoy your life, problem no dey finish abeg.
Just make sure it’s something you can afford, and you are spending all your money for enjoyment. Set aside enjoyment money for the month. Once in a while, pamper yourself.
Think twice before you buy a WANT. Give yourself the psychological 48 hours thought before you buy something. Most people don’t buy what they feel they want after 48 hours of critical thinking. If you end up buying it, that means you really want it. Ask yourself questions like, “do I really need this thing?” “Or is it because of what other people will say if I don’t buy it?”
Track your expense
Know how you spend your money. Write down the amount you need for transport, feeding, and other necessities, daily or monthly. It helps a lot. Set a budget on how you want to spend your money monthly.
Saving is one of the most crucial routes to living within your means. It makes you financially independent. Savings also gives you financial security. In a country where job immunity is low, and you can lose your job at any time, saving will help you.
Many people always wonder, “how much should I save?”, “how much will be enough?”, “will 10% of my earnings be enough to save?”
Honestly, 10% isn’t enough. You will need to save at least 20% of your earning. You can save more depending on your financial responsibilities and what you want to use the money for.
Also, you should save for rainy days and have an emergency fund. Saving will help you enjoy a better life in the future.
Stop spending money yafun yafun like Father Christmas. Even Father Christmas no dey give us gifts again. Every time you are always doing a giveaway, giving everyone urgent 2k. You are the nicest uncle or aunty. Even if you earn 50k at the end of the month, you can dash out 40k.
Let me tell you something, KALA!! Okay, that’s a joke. You can be generous; just know your limit. Remember, no go dey do pass yourself. Even the Bible says love your neighbour as you love yourself, not MORE THAN you love yourself.
Lastly, avoid competition. Save yourself the stress of competition. The way people compete, especially on social media, is crazy. You are not a celebrity. Even if you are, know that celebs go broke too. Today, many superstars are as broke as church rats because they can’t live within their means. Some commit suicide when they can’t bear the financial crisis anymore.
Whether rich or poor, you have to learn to live within your means. Do you think if Dangote or Adeleke were spending their money lavishly, they would remain the wealthiest people for so long? Hell no!
One of the primary reasons why the rich keep getting richer is that they are smart with their income. Think like a rich man. In essence, learn to live within your means. Know when you are spending too much. Sapa is real oh.
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- Sociologist, writer, historian, and activist; Mariam Obaijoko is the author of Ashabi and Campus Lovers (one of Unilorin Best Fiction Of 2019). Now a full-time writer, she has published several articles and write-ups on social issues, feminism, lifestyles, and many others.