Where Did The Money Go?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? I guess we all have, at one point in time. We brought a fat envelope stuffed with N500 or N1, 000 bills home and kept it in one of the drawers at home, maybe the bedside locker.

We have a general idea of what we want the money to accomplish, but don't exactly have a written list. Possibly the money came unexpectedly, or is even our dear pay packet.
Then the party begins. Wifey needs this, the mechanic is at the gate, and he needs money to replace this component in your old reliable jalopy. Your sons shoe is undersize, your daughters school bags is worn out. On and on it goes...


To make matters more interesting, there are still items in your mental To Do list yet to be attended to. Possibly you came to the envelope to get money when you stumbled on a near empty envelope. The money is virtually gone, there are things waiting to be done. The month is still young. If it is your salary, your take home pay has abandoned you midway home. You need to figure out how to make it to the next pay day.
The crux of the matter is that you are not in control of your cash flow. You are simply going with the flow. You don't have a working budget (you may have a beautiful document left somewhere in the house, you don't know where) or spending plan. You are responding to external stimulus. You are not acting, you are reacting, and emotions has a lot to do with your spending.

We all have different levels of discipline when it comes to handling money, hence there is no formula that fits all. Since I tend to be weak and emotional in that area, I police myself by making sure that the money departs immediately to their husband's houses before they get to me. I marry them off. I issue postdated cheques to my stockbroker and funds manager at the beginning of the year for the amount I have earmarked for each. Since I don't want EFCC to arrest me for issuing dud cheques, I transfer the money to another account by standing order (where I issue the cheques from). Same with school fees, I have a school fees account, and a savings account. So the moment my salary hits my account, they start heading off in different directions immediately (to their husband's houses) without saying goodbye. That way, I am paying school fees, saving and investing without lifting a finger. I only call my stock broker to tell him which stock to buy. The money is already in my stockbroking account. When it is time to pay school fees, I simply head for the school fees account and withdraw the amount needed, I don't rack my brain and start running helter-skelter to figure out where the money is coming from.

Same thing with other expenses, I pick everything for the month. Hence a few days after payday, I am left only with money for discretionary spending. If you come and tell me you father is in hospital overdue for discharge, and you need to borrow money to help settle the bills, there is nothing much I can do. It is true pay day was a few days ago, but the voucher has been closed and the cash all gone to their various places of assignment.

If you are much more disciplined than I am, you can have the money sitting in your salary account, and disburse it according to budget. You only go to the bank with a list of what you need the money for, based on your budget, with no room for impulse.

If London Bridge is falling down, repair it with money earmarked for such purposes. If it is important enough, you must have started putting money aside for it. Of course once in a while, unforeseen emergencies come calling without notice. Sometimes the scale can be such that it wipes up your reserves. This is understandable. However, if it happens every month, then there is a problem with your financial planning.

The crux of the matter is control, gaining control of your spending. Imagine your economy is like an airplane, you have to make your way to the cockpit, remove it from auto pilot and take over the controls, whatever it takes. It will not happen overnight. It you are thousands of miles off course, it will take a while and some doing to get back on course, but you can do it.

Having a short term and long term goal helps in galvanizing focus. Most people complain that they don't have money to start a business, workers inclusive. The easiest and cheapest source of funds for a business startup is personal savings. The interest rate is 0%. Maybe you want to build a house, go back to school or whatever. Having a focus helps move you along the road to financial discipline, if you can come to the understanding that a dripping tap can fill a bucket. If you can gather all the money that has been dripping out of your hands in one place, you will be amazed how much it amounts to in one year.

So where did the money go? Witch rats from your village did not spirit it away. Chances are that nobody in your flat or house is stealing it. If you religiously itemize every amount you collect from that envelope, you will see clearly where it went. It will simply add up, though you may not see what it has achieved. It simply grew wings and flew away because you did not send it on any specific assignment. You allowed them to loiter away. Look at money as your servants, and give them assignments before you leave home, you will see that you will get results.

If you allow them to roam free, you will continue wondering where the money went.


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