What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me — Job 3:25
As I relate with people, most in their 20s, one of their greatest fears is being broke. They do not know that this thought has crept into the mind of everyone that has walked the face of the earth🤣 . Sounds familiar? The fear of being broke is normal. Everyone thinks about it. But how you deal with that thought is what determines how you deal with life, time and money.
This fear (of being broke), when you have it for a long time, creeps into other areas of life. It has made many to be hesitant in making other life decisions. Eg marriage, staying in a city that suits them, family life, chase their life’s purpose, vocation etc. The fear of being broke posits that with money, all issues in your life will be resolved. Erroneously Solomon is quoted as a beacon and support for this malady. Yes, Solomon said that money is a defence and also in Ecclesiastes 10:19 that money answereth all things. But most do not pause to consider why he said it and in which context.
Let me digress a little bit. Recall that Solomon started Ecclesiastes by saying that vanity upon vanity is vanity — that is bleak and pessimistic. Why would the same person perjure himself by saying that vanity is worth something? Solomon did not. Ecclesiastes is written with one abiding text: “under the sun”. Solomon is saying that when you look at life from under the sun (meaning without any supernatural interference), it seems money answereth all things. “Under the sun” is to think and act from an earthly point of view, to look at things carnally. Solomon is leaving God out of the picture for a time as his lecture unfolds. It seems when you have more money, you will have no problems. Then he went on to say that more problems come with more resources. You get the drift. Let’s get back to our text.
Most time, a young lady would tell you that she does not want to marry a broke guy. On the other hand, a guy would tell you that he does not want to marry a girl with numerous family responsibilities (that is a lady from a poor home with a couple of siblings that she needs to cater for). Both desires are valid. But there is a problem. Did the broke guy want to be that way or did the lady with responsibilities create her circumstance? I doubt. Life happened.
You only met them (man and woman) at a phase in their lives but if you take that singular data point in their lives to take a life-altering decision about them, then you are likely going to be wrong. You will end up with the same set of people that you are running away from. Why? They will act the part that you desire (rich and without responsibilities). It is when you are inside the pot of soup that you will realise what has happened but by then…voila…you have gone too far. You are in the land of no return. You will deal with the very thing you were running from.
The truth about life is that at some point on the tangent of this journey called life — that none of us is getting out of here alive — you will be broke. You will need cash and you will not have it handy. If your cash call can be sorted out in 30 days, great!!! If you have friends to bridge the gap until the next pay-day — fantastic!!! However, you will not always be able to have these scenarios play out as you will want. Thou shall not have what you always want.
Being broke in your twenties is not the end of the world. You are just in good company 😎🤷♀️. Believe me when I say so. This is because most people around you at that age range, are just starting their life’s journey. Without support from friends and family, most are likely going to struggle — money-wise. There is nothing spiritual about it. Bobo…you just left school nah. Where de money wan take come?
Guess what. The Bible recommends that it is good for a person to bear hardship in the days of their youth. You don’t believe me? Check Lamentation 3:27. It says and I quote “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Actually, that is when you can bear hardship. With a fragile body at 80 — ehm — not the best of times to bear hardship. Not a nice sight to look upon.
Your first job’s salary will not be able to pick all your bills. If it does, then it was a fantastic job. The people whose first salaries can pick most of their bills are outliers. Those who are settled by 20 are also outliers. They constitute a minuscule of the population. There is nothing good or bad about it, it is as it is. Just like your age, there’s nothing to be proud of or ashamed of.
From what I have observed, it is better to start life being broke. Broke has its advantages. It makes you a better manager of resources. You become more thoughtful and try to optimise the resources at your disposal. Malcolm Gladwell posits that some advantages are disadvantages and some disadvantages that can have advantages. The example he gave was apt. He said he preferred to be a child born into a middle-income family than those of billionaires. Being able to want something in life is one of the life lessons children of the rich hardly have (especially those with parents from the school of thought; my-children-must-not-go-through-what-I-went-through. That school teaches the parents to spoil the kids with all that money can buy. We know how it usually ends. Right ?)
“Want” teaches you planning and delayed gratification. It allows you to see what it would take to get what you want given where you are, now. Want is a motivator. It makes you strive and thrive for excellence and accomplishment. Lacking in some things when you are young, is just a fact of life. In striving for those things, especially those of value, you will be built in character as a person. You will build resilience, patience, contentment into your being.
When you fear poverty, you will run right into her waiting arms. Fear is a form of faith. Fear drags things to you. How you deal with fear determines a lot of things in your life. From what I have seen especially around successful people, they know how to handle fear. They see it as a possibility but not with morbid reluctance. Morbid reluctance incapacitates and makes one not even think in a certain direction neither attempt the obvious because, in your subconscious, you will fail.
Because of the fear of being broke, many have taken decisions that are bound to guarantee success. However, they learn too late that success cannot be guaranteed. The consequences of their actions in trying to run away from being broke drives them into the deep abyss of wrong decisions that have life-altering consequences. The poverty you are running from ends up being where you are running into. Your starting point becomes your destination. In the words of the mercurial Zebrudaya — You see what I’m saw.
Let me give you general examples. Most people that participate in Ponzi schemes are aware of what they are entering into but the thought of making a fortune that will enable them not to be broke keeps them going. Their fear blinds the pending reality. They get in, come out with some fortunes. Plunge more resources into it. The predictable day of doom comes — they lose everything. They lose. Not just money but the resources of others they have introduced into the game. Furthermore, they lose their social acquaintances. Misery sets in.
Social capital soiled.
Financial capital vanished.
Moral voice lost.
What else is poverty when you don’t have any of these?
Recently I had to counsel an undergraduate. We got talking and she was comfortable enough to tell me what was bothering her. She put in a large amount of money running into thousands of dollars of her funds into a get-rich-quick scheme. The money developed wings and flew away. That did not bother her so much. It was the resources of her sibling that she had introduced into the same scheme….which also flew away. That amount was double of hers. As usual with these things, friends and family were invited to the party. When it dawned on her that all the money had really flown away and they were not coming back as proverbial Peter and Paul in the nursery rhymes, suicide was on the table. Running away to start life afresh was on the table. More wrong options were on the table. You get my drift. She was running right into what she feared. That which she feared, not having enough, have come upon her. Infact it came in a higher dimension because now she is indebted and has lost her social capital.
I asked what her motivation was when she started investing in this scheme. She said she wanted to be independent as early as possible as she was tired of depending on her parents. The fear of being a liability drove her to this. The fear of being broke drove her into this inferno. Her intentions were great but the road to hell is filled with good intentions. Intentions that are not thought through or doused/spiced with some godly counsel.
Paul had something very remarkable to share. It goes this:
I have learned, in whatever condition I am, to be independent of circumstances. I am schooled to bear the depths of poverty, I am schooled to bear abundance. In life as a whole, and in all its circumstances, I have mastered the secret of living: how to be the same amidst repletion and starvation, amidst abundance and privation. I am equal to every lot, through the help of Him who gives me inward strength.
Being broke is ok. It is temporary and transient. Nobody wants to be broke but when we embrace it as one phase of life, then as Paul, you will be equal to every lot. Get used to the fact that you will be broke. You will not have what you want as at when you want it but alas…you will be fine.
Staying broke. Mba! This is where the problem is. That is not what this article is about.
You can check other articles I have written on money/finances/ financial intelligence. They are Money Talk: December Happiness & January Blues, The Money Question 2018 Edition, Saving The Pennies, I’ve Got Money On My Mind, Money & Money Management Skills, 7 Common Money Mistakes and 7 Common Money Mistakes (Part II), 10 Common Money Mistakes (Part III), 8 Money Mistakes (Part IV), Stock Market Investment Basic , Things Not To Do With Money, Yearn…Then Learn To Earn, Find A Financial Mentor, Creating A Budget That Works, 10 Tips For Effective Budgeting, 7 More Tips For Effective Budgeting (Part 2), The Lion King: Compelling Economic & Financial Lessons, The Best Investment Secret Ever and If It’s Free; Someone Paid
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