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Financial Literacy: Lessons Learned

All my life, I was told to save. I was told that it was the smart and responsible thing to do if I didn’t want to go hungry and broke. In the past years, that is all the education I had about money.

Over the years, I have come to learn that many of us go through life with very limited knowledge about money management. Most times, all we know is to save, and most times, saving doesn’t save us from encountering problems in our finances -especially when we get to the point where we are living on our own and in charge of our own finances. I have been there, I have done that, and it is absolutely no fun at all! That is why I have come to be extremely grateful for the past couple of weeks.

The last couple of weeks have allowed me to see how flawed and incomplete the “just save” logic is. I am now in the place where I question how I was always so blind to the incompleteness of this approach to money management.

My work as a social media intern at Future Black Female, particularly this month when our theme is “Financial Literacy”, has given me the opportunity to learn and understand that if all I did to manage my money is save it, I would eventually go broke and hungry. What happens when I am short of money and end up using up my savings? Where do I get money from then? What do I do then?

Having to create educational content about a subject which I knew very little about has pushed me to learn a lot more than I even knew I needed to learn, and I want to share with you. I hope these are lessons you can build on in your journey to being financially savvy.

1. The value of your money is directly proportional to your level of financial literacy

In the infamous “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, Robert T. Kiyosaki articulated this point very crisply. He wrote, “I am concerned that too many people are focused too much on money and not on their greatest wealth, which is their education. If people are prepared to be flexible, keep an open mind and learn, they will grow richer and richer through the changes. If they think money will solve the problems, I am afraid those people will have a rough ride. Intelligence solves problems and produces money. Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone.”

When I read this, my 2020 experience began to make sense to me. 2020 was an extremely difficult year financially when there was really no reason for it to be. Looking back now, I can see clearly that I made terrible decisions I had no business making and placed myself in horrible situations I had no business putting myself into-- situations that my parents would scream and cry about for eternity if they ever found out.

However, 2020 is over, and here I am still, living and learning because, as the same Robert Kiyosaki wrote in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, “We learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk.” I now look to 2020 as my year of many financial trips and falls and hope that with all I learned and all I am still learning, my present and future would be more colourful financially.

2. There is a lot to learn about money and the resources are there

There is so much to learn about money, and there is so much we NEED to learn about money. Over the last three weeks, I have asked myself countless times, “How financially literate am I?’ Resources have forced me to surrender to the truth that I have always known ‘too little’.

Funny story; before now, I never even thought there was much to learn. Moreso, I never would have guessed that there are so many invaluable resources available to aid my learning process. I urge you to start making use of some of the invaluable resources available to you.

3. Money management goes far beyond saving your money in your bank account

For the longest time, I always believed the only thing I needed to do was save my money in my bank account; that was how I would build wealth, that was how I would always stay grounded financially. However, over the last three weeks, I have come to the understanding that depositing all my money into my bank account isn’t even half of what money management entails. Yes, it is a big part of it but not the whole.

Besides banking and saving, money management also includes budgeting, investing, managing debts and retirement planning, amongst many other things.

4. You do not have to guilt yourself about spending your money

I have heard so many people say, “Money is meant to be spent.” None of those people were saying anything wrong. I mean, why do we want to make/earn money so much if not to be in a place where we can afford the lifestyle we want? Notwithstanding, it is smart to remember that we live in a world of “more”. Our friends get more, our colleagues get more, people on the internet get more, random strangers in the line at the grocery store get more, it seems everybody around us is getting more. As a result, most times, we also want to get “more”, but do your earnings say you can get “more”? As long as you are living within your means and reaching your financial goals, it’s okay to spend your money guilt-free.

These are my learnings from the past three weeks. I hope you are happy to receive them as much as I am happy to share them with you. Goodbye and good luck, my friend.

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