My journey to financial wellness – Part 1
COVID-19 is having many casualties including financial, and this had me reflecting on the past so I decided to write through my thoughts.
Time was around 02h00 (this is AM in case you missed it) one pay day in the year 2016. I sat in my car in the parking lot with a heavy heart. I looked at the purse that held the cash I had just withdrawn at that ungodly hour and once more felt defeated by month end. I had withdrawn the cash for buying food and for petrol to make sure I could go to work during the month. I was doing this because I knew if I left the cash in the account, I wouldn’t have enough to cover all the debit orders and my monthly needs. I got into my flat and was a puddle on the floor. I had had enough. I needed a strategy to fix this. I was sick and tired of being broke ALL THE TIME. I had a good job, earned well (I know this is relative), lived alone with no children yet I did not afford my life. Something HAD to change. A year before I had seen my parents’ payslips and wondered how on earth they managed to ensure we never went to bed hungry, had clothes and paid for us through tertiary. The first time I went to bed hungry was not under my parents’ roof. I had never been sent back from school because my parents failed to pay the fees. I had never gone without winter clothes. How on earth did they do it? My mom was a teacher and my father a fleet manager for a bus company so pretty average earnings. I was frustrated and angry with myself. How had I gotten here? One thing was clear though; I was done with this type of living.
First, I made an agreement with myself on that floor after 2am that I would never be broke a day in my life. NEVER AGAIN. I repeated over and over. Of course that was a bold statement and I knew that was something I could not guarantee because sometimes things happen in life that are outside one’s control (e.g. COVID-19 today, retrenchments, health scares etc…). But for things that were in my sphere of influence (spending), enough was enough. I was NOT going to be broke again although I wasn’t sure how.
I decided that perhaps the reason I was not seeing the fruits of my labour was because I had a mountain of debt. Most of my salary was going towards payments of debts and by debts, I do not mean what I would call monthly expenses such as rent, water, electricity, insurance etc…). I mean stuff like credit cards (I had two), personal loans (I had two), overdraft, clothing store accounts etc… I needed that problem sorted – quick. Unfortunately, as I learnt, it wouldn’t be a quick process, but I am so glad it wasn’t a quick fix because I have learnt many valuable lessons in the slogging process that is paying off 4 years later.
Part 2 of the journey…