Musings on Marble – 19/06/2022

That altercation really strengthened our union because we have learnt about the importance of compromise in marriage.
Publish Date
19th June 2022
Read Time
14 minutes

IMPORTANT BUSINESS MOVES TO MAKE BEFORE THE BIG 40 (Part 2)

Taking proactive steps to ensure that you retire in good health and comfort goes way beyond ‘saving for the rainy day.’ It is a calculated and deliberate adoption of a lifestyle of savings and investment. It entails a rigid determination to forgo immediate gratification in order to build a structure that can be sustained even in years of decreased productivity. It entails organizing a portfolio of investments and businesses that would yield dividends for your continued sustenance and remain a viable source of income that you can bequeath to the future generation.

Therefore, the first financial habit that everyone needs to form is the profit habit – keeping expenses and liabilities far below revenue. Of course this requires discipline and determination. No matter what a person’s income is, there will always be needs waiting to be sorted; it takes discipline to create and sustain the profit habit.

Being prudent can be boring and unsatisfying – take it from someone who has walked the same path — but, overtime, when your self-sacrifice affords you the ability to fund major projects or generate wealth, there will be no feeling more rewarding. I remember a certain senior manager in one of the organizations that I worked with years ago; he was the butt of many office jokes and snide remarks. Everyone knew Mr. Joe with two shirts: a light blue long sleeved stripped shirt and a darker blue short sleeved one, both worn with a pair of black trousers. On Fridays, he wore either of two traditional attires. They called him Mr. Scrooge, Mr. Aradite, etc, because everyone in the office knew the salary range of senior managers and knew that he could afford to dress very well. About two years later, Mr. Joe invited a few colleagues from the office to his housewarming party; he had bought land and built a beautiful twin duplex in Lekki, a pricey part of Lagos. Many of his mates were still tenants. The office grapevine also discovered that Joe’s wife had just opened the second of her very large fabrics shops and that two of his children were studying in America. Overnight, Mr. Joe stopped being the butt of all office jokes.

Having a strict savings culture is crucial to wealth creation; that little percentage of your earnings that you put away over time amounts to a tangible sum that can be invested to create wealth. Some people recommend a minimum 10% savings from all earnings but many others advocate saving up as high as 30% of earnings. I think each individual needs to determine what serves best; what would you save monthly that would be meaningful yet give you room to settle your basic needs. Unlike Mr. Joe, you don’t need to become an object of mockery, barely taking care of yourself because you are trying to save. You have to maintain a balance between your expected goal and your present obligations. The important thing is to plan to save and stick to it. Some people leave a permanent instruction with their banks to affect transfers automatically at specified intervals so as soon as their salaries or earnings hit their account, a certain agreed proportion is transferred to another account. Without a strict attitude to saving, a person could earn millions every month and still have nothing put aside.

Another crucial business move to make as early as possible is to have diversified channels of income. Invest your money, time, ideas and connections to earn more money. Some people would call it multiple streams of income or passive income. However it comes, always look out for more avenues to legitimately and profitably earn money. In this era of a plethora of online businesses, it is easy to put your hands in many pies. Social media jobs spring up daily and many people are making big money just by posting relatable pictures and uploading great videos online. Some jobs offer the opportunity to work remotely and part time, so you can fit them in with other jobs. Find what works for you and if you need some training, you can get help online and through mentors.

Income streams are not limited to job opportunities, but also include legitimate investment opportunities, which, in due time, will create another income source. Investments are categorized into Low, Medium and High Risk, according to the level of volatility of the terrain in which you have invested. Of course the dividends also come in that order, with High Risk bringing the highest yield while Low Risk investments which basically comprise fixed deposits, all forms of bank savings and bond, yield lower dividends.

Real estate is always a great industry to invest in, especially in Africa; there is hardly a slump and value of properties keep going up. Investing in real estate is considered a medium risk venture and does not always mean buying your own property; you can invest in a real estate project where an agency or company acquires land or builds houses, sells or rents out and pays you back with profit. Some two young men that I heard of recently, Ali and Bala, both 35 years old and working as Level 10 officers in a government parastatal, have become multi millionaires through investing in real estate projects. They are said to have started investing in 2013 with the sum of N 100,000 which was their cumulative savings after one year of employment. Now, they have more than one estate in Abuja, where they were major sponsors.

Forex Trading is another profitable investment opportunity and it falls under high-risk investment. You will need expert guidance on this because it can get quite bumpy for the untutored. Start small until you gain mastery. There are also platforms that can trade on your behalf but you have to engage with caution. Cryptocurrency continues to make huge financial strides globally; it is pertinent to add here that you should work within the legal framework operational in your country.

The agro industry is another great avenue for profitable investment. There are farms partnering with small-scale investors for short-term and long-term ventures. Again, you have to do your homework before committing funds.

Along with savings and investment, another great business habit to imbibe and stick to is budgeting. This helps to keep you on track with your spending and helps you focus on your financial goals. Create annual budgets and prune it down to monthly budgets and even weekly budgets. This will guide your expenditure, and improve your planning.

It must be obvious by now that the matter of better positioning oneself for the future is highly important to me, and I could go on and on about important moves to make. While we await my detailed submission on the subject matter, I shall summarize by saying that a culture of prudence, savings, careful investment and budgeting will help you to enjoy a stress-free retirement. If you are 40 years old and you haven’t imbibed any of these habits, please start now, as a matter of urgency. Your story can be told like Ali and Bala who through savings, investment and proactive thinking, in less than 10 years, have changed the story of their lives. Start now!

Till next week!

 

 

Fatherhood with Ibe

 

WEDDING DRAMAS

For a few weeks, I have been writing about weddings, especially about my son Emeka and his wife as they prepared for their nuptials. I wrote about their last minute anxieties and even shared the story about my own wedding plan decades ago. I received this article from someone called Stone and I think he captured a different angle which I am sharing. Enjoy his story:

I met my wife at a travel agent’s office where I was trying to resolve the problem of a shaky scheduled overseas trip. It was at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and I didn’t understand why the travel agents were being cagey in telling me what to expect about the journey that obviously would not hold. Two young ladies were in the office too, clearly, over a similar matter. It soon became obvious that the one that was shouting and demanding answers had come from the UK to visit her family in Nigeria and was anxious to return to her base. The other girl was her friend and she was quite practical and sensible, asking questions about where they could get answers and how to get around the problem. She was dressed simply in jeans trousers and a shirt. Although she was wearing a face mask, I kind of liked what I was seeing. I also liked her calmness and pragmatism. They were directed to visit the British High Commission for better information about the pandemic and travel bans into the UK. I offered them a lift to the commission because I wanted to get to know the girl better.

That marked the beginning of our relationship and the more I got to know her the more certain I became that I would like to do life’s journey with her. We started aligning our plans; she had just completed her national youth service and wanted to work in a hospital and later open her own pharmacy store. I have a civil engineering firm that is doing fairly well. I advised her to get a job in a big pharmacy store for at least two years so that she would understudy the modus operandi.

Everything was wonderful until I proposed to her and our families got involved.

Venue of the wedding was a problem. My parents live in Warri, Delta State and know quite a number of influential persons; they wanted the wedding to hold in Warri so they could invite all their friends. My fiancée wanted a destination wedding in Dubai or an elaborate Princess Diana-type wedding in Lagos, complete with 14 bridesmaids and 6 flower girls. Of course, she did not want to wed in Warri and not even the fact that my parents were ready to host her family and friends in their hotel for the entire week could sway her. I tried unsuccessfully to get her to change her mind because I knew that having the wedding in Warri would relieve us of a few details like venue and catering because the hotel would have covered those but my fiancée refused. I talked to my parents to let go, after all, it was going to be our wedding not my parents’. I promised them that we could come for thanksgiving service in Warri and they were content with that.

Having sorted out the location, the planning started off fully. My fiancée enlisted the help of her two older sisters who threw themselves into the planning with passion.  They knew only the most expensive vendors and the costliest wedding accessories; it was as if they were living through their sister; trying to have the wedding they’d dreamt of but never had. By the time they came out with their budget, we were staring at N34million. I was furious.

“What’s this?” I asked my fiancée, waving the sheets of paper at her face.

“What do you mean? Don’t you know what it is?” She retorted angrily. I think she had anticipated my outburst.

“Are you seriously asking me to spend N34m on a wedding?”

“Not just a wedding, our wedding, there’s a difference.” She pointed out calmly. “It’s not as if you can’t afford it.” She added off-handedly.

“If I have that kind of money, believe me, I would not waste it on a wedding. I have other things of importance that I would prefer to put that sum of money into.” I said.

“Getting married to me is not important?” She asked quietly.

I told her not to put words into my mouth. At this point, she seemed to be fighting tears. I was too upset to handle the situation differently. I accused her of letting her sisters run her life and assured her that I would not tolerate that kind of interference in my marriage. Her parents were living in a rented two-bedroom apartment in an interior part of Lagos mainland. I had told my wife that after the wedding, as a matter of urgency, we would need to buy a property in that area for her parents especially as I was told that we could get a small bungalow for N15m. I didn’t understand why she would want to spend N34m carelessly instead of thinking of what it could do to help her family.

She was silent for a while, then, in a barely audible voice, told me that she didn’t know it was either one or the other; that helping her parents was dependent on her not having a decent wedding. I told her that the main issue was that I didn’t want to spend my life with someone who had no financial discipline and who played to the gallery. I rattled on about how hard I worked for my money. She was quiet till I ran out of words.

She picked up her bag and told me that she was leaving. I shrugged. At that point, I didn’t care if I never had anything to do with her and her family, infact, the wedding was as well as cancelled, in my mind.

At the door, she turned and asked me if I ever loved her. I felt a twinge of guilt as I saw her unshed tears but I couldn’t say anything, instead I glared at her.

“Please Babe, tell me. Do you love me?” She persisted.  Reluctantly, I responded that I would not be talking about marriage with her if I did not love her.

“It’s just that you don’t love me enough to bend backward to give me the wedding of my dreams.” It was not a question so I did not respond. She walked away quietly.

We did not talk for two weeks. I called her but she refused to pick my calls.

I missed her sorely.

Totally frustrated, I engaged a wedding planner to incorporate most of my fiancée’s expectations without going overboard. I was able to trim off N9m. I drove over to her office.

Before I could talk, she handed over an envelope to me.

“I was going to drop it off at your place after work.” She told me.

“What’s in it?” I asked.

“Open it.”  She said. I opened the envelope and saw a new wedding budget. She had trimmed off almost everything. The budget for both traditional and white wedding was down to N7m. I felt as if someone had punched me. I realized that her happiness meant the world to me and compromise was something we would practice a lot in the future.

I gave her my modified budget but she’d revised her stand.

“I was wrong, Babe. Being married to you is more important to me than the ceremony.”

We got married four months later, February this year. We worked out something that suited us both. We had an elaborate traditional wedding and a week later went to court with a few friends and some relatives. It was a simple marriage ceremony followed by a simpler cocktail with our witnesses. We travelled to Dubai for our honeymoon and it was a most enjoyable time for my wife and I. A few weeks later when we returned, we went to Warri for our thanksgiving service/church blessing.

That altercation really strengthened our union because we have learnt about the importance of compromise in marriage.

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