In Summary
  • Opportunities to invest and create wealth are available and require you to invest time to learn. This learning may be in form of a course, holding a conversation with someone, spending time talking to an investment professional, visiting a project or doing research on a business idea.

To many people, financial empowerment means having extra or excess money.
But sometimes we actually take away this power from ourselves, and it has nothing to do with a financial situation.
We tend to look at everything else apart from our own role in our circumstances. Here are some ways in which we financially disempower ourselves.

We remove ourselves from the driver’s seat of our lives and expect money to take up that role. Money is a good servant but a terrible master. It is not meant to direct your life. It’s mind-boggling the number of things people will decide they cannot do because of money.
Money is crucial and it is acceptable to conclude that you cannot do something because of lack of funds.

However, the problem is when the decision just stops without even trying or stirring up any creative juices to find solutions. Money is meant to follow a vision, not to be the vision holder.
Decide to start that business, learn, take the first step and you’ll figure out about the money later on. Don’t say you can’t start because of money. If that’s the constant position, there is not enough money that will show up to make you start. It will never be enough. No matter the situation, take the driver’s seat and let whatever conclusions you arrive at come to be from that position.

We play the victim
We blame everything and everyone else except for ourselves. We blame the employer, the economy, interest rates, inflation and bills. We even blame social pressure, our parents. We blame our upbringing. We get comfortable blaming others, especially for things that were as a result of our own actions.
If you decide to give money to your relatives, it is your decision. Do not blame them. If you chose to have a more expensive lifestyle, do not blame your employer for not paying you enough. For many people, a pay rise usually translates to higher expenses. When we stop blaming others, we accept the responsibility for our own actions. That way, we know we are the same people who can choose to take a different course of action or change something.

We let material possessions master us rather than mastering them
There is nothing wrong with owning nice things. However, your sense of value or success should not come from your material possessions. They will master you when you get your identity from them. It is fine to have a nice car or even want a better one.
However, when we are driven to get this car because of how people perceive us, the car has mastered us. This leads us to do financially unintelligent things like incurring debts. Eventually, many people discover that this car provides at best temporary satisfaction and then they are left wanting something else and feeling inadequate.
This desire does not quite go away because there is always a different benchmark; a new car, a new phone, a better house among other needs. Decide what you value and what is important.
That will help put the boundaries we need to have on material possessions.

Our money empowers everybody else but us
Your money pays everybody else but you. It pays the government through taxes, landlords, supermarkets, fuel companies, electricity, school fees ... But we don’t feature in this, yet we are doing all the work.
If we do feature, it is a small proportion. We do not know where our money goes. There is nothing good about not having a spending plan or a budget. If you do not dictate how your money will be spent, there are enough people who will gladly spend it for you. There are enough distractions in the world to keep you spending especially if you don’t have a plan for yourself.
Your earnings start to empower you when you put yourself in the equation. When you decide that your hard work will also bring you a financial benefit by using it to invest in a way that brings you more money.
We need to think of saving more than 30 per cent of our incomes for the money we earn to play a part in empowering us. More money will not make you wealthier until you start creating wealth from what you have.

We don’t learn
Opportunities to invest and create wealth are available and require you to invest time to learn. This learning may be in form of a course, holding a conversation with someone, spending time talking to an investment professional, visiting a project or doing research on a business idea.
School did not stop with a degree. We need to be intentional about our financial goals. It’s choices but not chances that get you there.

Waceke Nduati Omanga runs personal finance and wealth creation courses.