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Where did you travel to – Francis Ewherido

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By Francis Ewherido

It is unbelievable how man has decided to complicate this simple life that God created. It actually started in the Garden of Eden where two naked adults, male and female, did not even know they were naked until they dabbled into forbidden territory.

Today’s article is another example of how wo(man) complicates simple matters.

The title of today’s article is the question some teachers in highbrow private schools ask their pupils when they get back from the long holidays. They assume that every pupil ought to travel abroad during the long holiday. 

Now let us dissect the types of parents who send their children to highbrow private schools. One, parents who are so rich, they can even pay the six years’ fees upfront. Two, parents who are very comfortable and have an educational plan in place to see their children through school, no matter the financial circumstances in which they find themselves. Three, parents who are not necessarily financially secure, on the long haul, but earn big enough to comfortably keep their children there. If the source of income goes, things could get complicated after a while. Four, parents who are like a Kia Picanto doing 150km/per hour. They are stretched to their financial limits keeping their children in these schools, but they keep them there either because they want the best for their children, or they want to keep up with the Joneses. The children of the last group of parents are among those being asked “where did you travel to.”

And you know what? Those of them that want to keep up with the Joneses also go on family vacations during the long holidays. Their children must not be the odd ones out. But they do not always have the resources, so they resort to borrowing to fund pleasure! In personal finance, that is “murder,” which should attract “capital punishment.” We are taught in personal finance that the only reason you should borrow is for business, that if you borrow money to feed, pay rents, pay children’s school fees and other recurrent expenditures, your finances are unhealthy. Your priority then is get out of the woods, not dig yourself further into a financial hole. But these parents have opted to sink deeper into financial quagmire for very foolish reasons.

It is bad enough that you put your children in a school whose school fees you can barely afford. Your priority at the end of every session should be to start saving for the school bills of the new session. In fact, smart parents in this category, have started saving gradually for the new session starting in September. Meanwhile, some are borrowing money to travel for summer holiday just to keep up with parents of other pupils who are swimming in cash. By the time they come back from their summer holiday, it is not only schools they have to contend with, they have to repay the money they borrowed to travel! And who is making them get into this completely avoidable mess? One, classroom teachers, who are probably much younger than they are. Two, their children’s age mates in school; children who are still in primary and secondary school are dictating how you live your life and run your family; sad, very sad.

 A friend, who lives her life on her own terms, decided that a classroom teacher will not determine how she lives her life; also her son will not be made to be feel inferior before his peers. Her children spent part of their holiday in her village and her husband’s where they explored both paternal and maternal roots, and she impressed it on the children the importance of knowing their antecedents. When schools resumed, the class teacher was in her usual routine of asking the children where they travelled to, instead of asking them how they spent their holiday. My friend’s son proudly told his teacher that he travelled to his parents’ villages and then added, “What about you, ma, where did you travel to?” The teacher was caught off guard; she was not expecting that, but she honestly answered that she did not travel anywhere. My friend’s son was not done. He asked the teacher why she was asking the pupils where they travelled to when she did not travel. He had her in a corner. He ended the encounter by telling the teacher not to put any burden she cannot carry on the head of others. The nine-year-old gave his teacher some life lessons.

It looks like marital life has not taught some people any lessons. One of the first lessons you learn once your family starts growing and expenditure starts increasing is prioritizing. You must get your priorities right.  Expenditures like feeding, clothing, accommodation and children’s education occupy the top positions on the list. In handling even your “must do,” you apply wisdom. Eating out should not be a habit. Cook and eat at home. Eating out should be occasional. Do not go near designers’ clothes and accessories, especially if you cannot afford them or sustain the habit. A young family of four does not need a big house; a two-bedroom flat will serve you well. These immediate gratifications are what has put many people in financial troubles. Young couples must learn to discipline themselves and delay their gratification.

Also marriage is about planning and you need to put a financial plan in place. Remember that all the plans (family size, education, medical, estate, leisure, etc.) are interwoven, and at the end, they all boil down to money (financial planning). There are two habits or philosophies that can help the group we are highlighting today: one, earn before you spend. Two, ensure that you do not spend more that you earn at all times, especially on pleasures, unless you have planned ahead.

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For example, if you are planning a family summer holiday, which will cost N6m, by July 2020 and you start keeping money aside from now on, or from whenever you think you can save over time and meet up, fine. But before you even plan the holiday, you need to examine your conscience whether it is priority. If you are financially thin, do not live like someone that is financially heavy. Some of these heavy guys have enough liquid, semi liquid and solid assets to make them comfortable for the rest of their lives if they stopped working. It is not like you, who will run out of cash within six months if your income stopped. Be wise.

 

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