One of the reasons I desire financial freedom is to avoid repeating the same mistakes my parents made financially. My dad reached the position of a Senior Manager within the banking industry while my Mum is a Senior Lecturer.
Now that I reflect on the financial status of my parents, I see a few mistakes they made and I try to avoid such mistakes. I remember when I was in primary and secondary school; one of the earliest essay assignments I wrote was about my parents. Most of us were given such essay assignments by our English teachers. Anytime I got to the financial status of my parents, I was always stuck because my parents could not define where they were on the financial divide.
I realize now that my father was a rich man but failed to turn his riches into great wealth. How did he fail? I’ll try to highlight some of this mistakes here just in case some of us find ourselves in the same boat of what I call “repeated mistakes”.
Assuming financial responsibility for an entire family- my dad comes from a large family. He had nine siblings while he was the second borne. His dad i.e. my paternal grandfather was a cocoa farmer. My dad was responsible for the education of his siblings, which he performed creditably well, I must admit. While some of his siblings opted out of formal education, some opted for a formal education. Over the long run, he continued to assume financial responsibility even after his siblings were gainfully employed. This to me was one of his greatest financial mistakes because he never had enough for his wife and kids.
Being secretive about financial matters – till today, I cannot actually state the actual net worth of my dad. Apart from his stock holdings, which my mum manages for him, everything else about his financial state is shrouded in deep secrecy away from his children and wife. In the event of death or any other emergency, most of his properties will be left unclaimed or his siblings will kill themselves over it, since he never got legal occupancy for most of these properties.
Assuming a “know it all attitude”– my dad believed he was the sole custodian of wisdom. There was none wiser than him and that also involved financial matters.
Running wallet – Since he was financially responsible for a lot of things ranging from paying for his siblings house rent, their children’s education, Aso-ebi, shopping for clothes e.t.c his fiscal discipline was poor. As a result, he was tight-fisted at home, but generous towards his family. We never had adequate clothes or shoes to wear. When I was admitted to the university, I remember wearing black flip-flops through most of my stay to disguise the fact that I could not afford a good pair of shoe. The only good pair I had was reserved for church and other formal activities.
Purchasing expensive electronics and automobiles – my dad was a lover of good things and that included automobiles and electronics. I remember anytime he came back from one of his usual purchases, he would gather us and tell us that he was buying these things for our sake. I never really understood the message he was trying to pass across. Did he assume that we were going to inherit these things or what? I’ll ask him one of these days. By the time I was fifteen years old, my dad had about five cars, which he rarely drove since he also, had an official car. Aarh! What a waste.
Expensive taste for clothes, shoes and accessories – My father felt he was defined by the things he wore. So he spent a lot of time in exclusive stores in England shopping for the latest cuts in French Safari, Seville Row suits, Marks & Spencer underwear and Italian shoes. In 2001, he lost his job and relocated outside the country shortly after. At home, we have two big “Ghana must go bags” filled with expensive Italian shoes, a big suitcase of Marks and Spencer’s underwear and other items such as shirts, suits and expensive ties. The lesson here- never tie down money on frivolities.
By the time I was graduating, I had inculcated the habit of a frugal lifestyle since I was aware that this lifestyle was the road towards financial freedom. I have not looked back ever since.