If you were to ask me today what is the one thing that you wish you did better while you were in your 20's? I'd say I would have made a point to save just a little and maybe invested in things that did not loose value as time goes by. But at the same time I fail to understand how it really is our faults that in our 20's we focused more on buying shoes, clothes, doing the most and to some of us really we invested our time and money in travels. I say this because growing up we were never really pressured on really money management or investment. Classic African setting we all grew up seeing or hearing our parents say this, 'I worked so hard so that my children don't suffer!' And honestly it didn't matter how much money our parents had or what social class they were in, their goal was to do better so that their children don't result into being what they are or experiencing what they experience. The daily mantra and song we always heard was, 'All I need you to do is work hard, get good grades, go to university, get a good job and start your own family!'Some of them left out, 'Once you get the good job, spend 3/4 of that salary to family, extended family, neighbours, family friends etc...'
So really the only valid investment I knew of was my Education and quiet frankly my travels, and I do know that everyones different and comes from different backgrounds but what was fairly common or similar was that Investment was really never a conversation parents, teacher and others had with us. Reflecting back I tend to see and understand how majority of us are just regretting how we worked our way through our 20's while others like myself again are struggling with bad financial decisions at the gateway of our 30's. Hence why I am really reflecting, reflecting on how The Smart Money Women series was a trigger for me to think through and think back the financial decisions I make.
I also thought about this aspect, that the drive for me or the goal for me was and is to be financial independent. This developed in me as a young lady through the past and what I had being seeing women in my society and community go through. Most women were so dependant on their partners that they couldn't' move or shake things without consulting or 'approval' from them. Honestly as a young woman I may not have valued the power of investing correctly but I also didn't want to become that lady. And yes without contradicting myself I do come from the school of thought the man should spoil and take care of his woman, but a woman too must have her own in order to also be part of the discussion and decision making table.
So back to the spirit of investing and finances as I said the series ' The Smart Money Woman' triggered me, and honestly as women ' young and old ' we need to start having these conversations with ourselves. As it is as African women it is tough especially if you are educated and are breaking generational curses, the expectations are so high that you may just loose yourselves in the midst of your finances gone wrong just to hush society and put a smile on your families faces while you suffer in silence trying to understand your finances. That brings me to the issue of BLACK TAX and yes I know most of you have heard this term but are quiet unsure by what it means, so let me break it down to you.
Black Tax - A term used in South Africa for money that a black ( African ) professional provides to their family every month outside of their own living expenses, mostly out of obligation. I mean the term maybe used in South Africa but let's be honest every African Woman and working young person can relate to black tax and interesting enough I came across an article that asked,' Black Tax : Burden or Ubuntu?' And this really made me pause and rethink this. And I am cognisant of the fact that Religion and different cultures also have their own stand when it comes to our obligations towards family and people when one has the ability, but when do we say NO or I don't have and people would respect that and not label you? so is it Ubuntu or is it s Burden? Because if you look at the older generation used to get a sense of fulfilment from being able to give as much as they can to those in need. So why is it that now we are able to have these conversations and realise that maybe juts maybe we may just be doing it too much? I'd say knowledge, exposure, change in goals and growth!
As I reflect I realise that most of us invest our money in things that don't have returns because of the habitual actions we are used to that we don't even realise that we are actually going down a spiral hill. Truth be told investing is scary, managing finances is scary because through experience as a young person I can tell you some decisions actually put you in more financial constrains than others.
I tried investing in an asset but because of the lack of faith in me as a young person by a certain bank I ended up in a much deeper financial bruden that I had never seen coming, all because the bank couldn't trust my background and also because they said I was 'too young.'I say this very passionately that we all need financial advisers, we need investment knowledge and we need a lifestyle coach for direction, for accountability and for also saving In the right. Because lets be honest a lot of discipline is needed to break our toxic relationship with our finances, but at the same time to those who have made small or big strides after going downhill I hope you are all patting yourself on the back!
It isn't easy but you are the ones who are giving hope to the rest of us and trust me that is very important. Once your are done reading this acrticle and I do hope you reach to the bottom, try reflecting on yourself and your habits. What is your relationship with your finances? Is it making you uncomfortable? Would you like to change and do better? What about Black Tax, ask yourself what is your stand with that? Are you intending to reduce your back tax deposits? Are we learning to say no to things that don't really have value and necessity as we embrace on the journey to be 'Smart Money Woman?'
One thing I know for sure from me is that I am about to educate myself more on handling my finances, learning how to say NO because in reality I am not going to be able to help and solve everyones problem! And also wanting to learn how to fight with impulse spending when it is really never necessary. One things for sure I shall not stop investing my time and money to travels, because at some point I do believe there is a thin like between investing and finances and also peace of mind and calmness that comes from buying yourself that ticket and leaving everything behind just to give yourself that ultimate me time!
So here's us making better financial decisions, investing where there is growth and Eliminating our Black Tax deposits.