The most important word for financial progress
Posted Tuesday, March 12 2013 at 02:00
What is the most important word for people who want to achieve financial progress? That is the subject of my article today. Mary (not her real name) is known by her relatives and friends as a very generous person. She shared her story during a recent money management class I was facilitating and as she got to the end she mentioned something that really touched me.
In our community owning chicken is the lowest rank of financial progress, said Mary. But I am now over 40 years old and yet I do not even own a single hen. Mary concluded that her biggest challenge was that she did not know how to use the most important word for people who want to achieve financial progress.
The second story is from Vincent. Like many Ugandans or Africans for that matter, Vincent comes from a large extended family. It also seemed that Vincent held the best salaried job among his relatives in the 30 years to 60 years age bracket.
Vincent told our money discussion group that whenever there was a funeral in the family, he would make a contribution of Shs500,000 then the other relatives would contribute the balance for the budget. The frequency of deaths meant that Vincent had to set aside between Shs500,000 to Shs1 million every month for funerals.
At one family meeting called to discuss yet another funeral arrangement, Vincent offered to be the treasurer. Given that he was usually the biggest contributor to the family budget, everybody readily accepted.
Vincent then asked people to mention the amount of money they were contributing while he busied himself with counting the money and writing down the contributions.
After everybody had made their contributions, Vincent realised that the budget required only Shs50,000 to be completed. This was a mere 10 per cent of the amount that he was used to contributing.
So what is the most important word for people who want to achieve financial progress? My considered opinion is that it is the word ‘No.’
Mary, whom we mentioned earlier, finally got her first hen when she learnt that not everything that is urgent was actually important.
She could therefore say no to seemingly urgent money demands without feeling guilty about it provided she was attending to more important things such as saving and investing money to pay fees for her children’s education and building her retirement house.
You have got to say no to the unimportant and yes to the important.
Vincent came up with a smart way of saying no, he asked the other family members to make their contributions first and that forced them to come up with money. It is not only unimportant expenditure that we have to say no to. You have to say no to time wasting. Opportunities for wasting time are abundant: meetings that neither start nor end on time; appointments that are not kept and the list goes on.
Miriam gives us another example why saying no is important for financial progress. For several weeks, a sales woman from a bank kept coming to Miriam to sell a loan to her. After several visits Miriam felt so pressured and agreed to take up a loan in order to stop the incessant visits and phone calls. It is now 18 months since she took the loan but Miriam is still paying it; all this because she could not say the word ‘no.’
To those who still find it hard to say no, a little story might help. Young Tom watched a chick trying to break out of the egg shell and come out into the open. The effort seemed to take too long and Tom was so concerned about the chick that he thought he needed to offer some help. Tom broke the egg shell and a little while later, the chick died.
Sometimes saying no appears like a refusal to help but then when you go ahead and help you may end up doing what Tom did to the chick.
James Abola is a business/money coach and Team Leader for Akamai Global.