MANAGING OUR FINANCES
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
Think about this scenario: “You wake up early one morning, same time as you usually do to prepare for work, but suddenly realize that you are not going to work that day, not because you are sick or on vacation but that your work with your employer is finished, you are on retirement!. As you lie in bed the thought occurs to you that the room in which you are sleeping is rented or belongs to your employer, you don’t have your own!. Then it occurs to you that your last child is in JHS1 and your wife a full time housewife. Your bank account is nothing to write home about and your only financial investment is your contribution to social security or some pension fund arranged by your employers” quite a familiar picture, isn’t it?
The question I would like you to ponder over and encourage those of you with some experience to share, especially with our younger Brothers and Sisters is “why is it that many who in their youthful and working days look quite prosperous, turn paupers soon after retirement?” Such people include former top managers, high civil and public servants, Professionals of all sorts and employees of all ranks. One just need to walk or drive past any Bank at the end of the month, observe pensioners who troupe there to collect the pittance of a pension or social security benefit to appreciate the point of this month’s letter.
In the last few years, my work in management consultancy and at the Ghana Stock Exchange has brought me face to face with many people in employment today who for lack of knowledge in managing their personal finances, or the lack of knowledge of the opportunities that abound in the country for creating “clean financial wealth” are heading for what I simply refer to as “retirement in poverty”. For some, it is sheer carelessness and frivolity in their lifestyles that is leading them to the same destination of “retirement in poverty”. Many such people have been WORKING FOR MONEY for years without knowing or understanding that at some point they must reverse the situation and allow their MONIES TO WORK FOR THEM.
In Ghana today and I believe also in Togo, Liberia and London where the Noble Order is present, there are many opportunities for investment for which you do not necessarily require big amounts such as in the case of investing in Mutual Funds, company stocks and Government bonds. All these offer good opportunities for investments. Other opportunities include setting up small businesses and even planting trees, teak for example. Many are under the illusion that you need lots of money in order to invest and that because salaries are low investment is impossible. Fact is, it is not how much you earn but how much you save or invest that will make a difference between your future life of prosperity or poverty. Putting 10% of your earnings regularly in long and short term investments is perhaps all you need to be on your way to a future financial success and “retirement in prosperity”. This requires a certain measure of self-discipline which I believe most Marshallans have. I am passionate about this subject because of its obvious implications on the lives of many people including Marshallans. Could the reason for the large numbers of Marshallans who are delinquent for non-payment of dues be due to their inability to manage their finances in the past and even now? Could the spirit of charity that seems to be waning in the Noble Order be due to the weak “financial backbones” of many of our members?
I am sure that there are Brothers and Sisters in Councils and Courts with good knowledge on these matters. Could I ask them to liaise with their GKs and NLs and arrange to give talks and direction to those, especially of the younger generation who for the lack of knowledge may be heading for a life of poverty in their retirement?
I acknowledge the fact that for some of our Brothers and Sisters, this may be coming too late, but could we make it a point as part of our Council and Court programmes to discuss and remind ourselves at least once a year of this issue of managing our finances well when in active employment.
Let us take control of our lives, let us remember that we are the masters or mistresses of our own destinies and therefore the KEY to our financial successes even in retirement. I wish you well.
SIR KT BRO. EDDIE PRAH
NB: This article was first published in June 2008 from the Supreme Knight’s Desk