Financial literacy is the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of her financial resources. It can be referred to as personal finance methodology in which the individual understands how money works and knowing how you can make money work for you: how you make money, manages and invests it and also expends it to help others. Most women lack information about saving and investing for retirement. As women, how do we manage our personal resources? How can we make our money to work for us even when we are asleep? These are questions calling for answers.
Let us try to define the people who belong to the Christian Women category as we can find it in the Bible. Proverbs 31: 10 -31 tells us about the “The Virtuous Woman”.
However, let us limit our discussion to verses 13 -16.
(NKJV) (13) She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands (14) She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. (15) She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants (16) She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard.
Verse 13, confirms that she is diligent and hardworking
Verse 14 – Has Initiative
Verse15 – Provides for her family, Proactive, Disciplined, Kind hearted, Considerate
Verse 16 – Industrious, Good Manager, Saves, Invests and Re-invests.
We need to first of all check ourselves as Christian Women to confirm that we fit into the roles describe in Proverbs 31: 10-31 for our husbands and children to call us “blessed”. A Christian woman needs to take initiative to create wealth for her home. Many believers do not think deep to see their point of wealth, God has endowed everyone with a gift to create wealth. We do lots of prayers only without thinking on what we can do for the prayers to work effectively. A Christian woman must be industrious and proactive. She has to think ahead and be hardworking. Proactive nature is a key to developing financial understanding on how to handle our finances. A Christian woman must invest wisely. She must have the spiritual eye to invest wisely for a bountiful result. Almost everyone around the world craves financial freedom/ independence but only few can pay the price. Are we as christian women willing to pay the price???
According to Wikipedia, an online resource, Financial independence means having enough wealth to live on without working. A popular saying goes thus, ‘it’s not how much you earn, but how much you keep and invest’. We’ve all seen different people that started strong financially, especially celebrities and sports icons who during their primes were making income in eight to nine-figures, only to go bankrupt just a few years after retirement. While a few could be because of unforeseen circumstances, most are usually caused by financial recklessness and frivolous spending.
As Christian Women, we have to guide against financial recklessness even if we are married to very rich men. Money is the tool God uses to help live and love Jesus. Philippians 4:11-12 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and l know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need”. Are we struggling financially? We need to be very prudent with our spending thereby having enough to see us through old age. The era of thinking that our kids will in-turn care for us at old age is gone, our prayers should be that Lord Almighty will let our old age be better than our younger age IJN.
However, faith without works is nothing ……….. God will rather crown our efforts with success. 1Samuel 2:7 “The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts”
It takes a lot of discipline to learn to put some money aside as savings. The Bible teaches us about tithing, giving 10% of our income to God. Financial literacy teaches about setting aside a percentage of our earnings immediately the money comes in, in a savings/investment account before expenditures. That’s how to start the journey of financial growth. If you are unable to imbibe this doctrine, the future is bleak. Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world said“ Do not save what is left after spending but spend what is left after saving”. Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Job 36: 11 “if they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasures” Psalms 37: 16-17 “Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous”.
What are the benefits of Saving?
Savings can be used to earn income. It increases personal financial security, it provides money for future purchases, produces a healthy economy and provides growth opportunities for business ventures. We must form the habit of saving regularly and finding forms of saving that yield high returns. e.g. Esusu scheme.
Financially independent people have assets that generate income (cash flow) that is at least equal to their expenses. For example, if someone receives N50,000 in dividends from stocks they own, but their expenses total N40,000, they can live on their dividend income because it pays for all their expenses (with some left over). Under this circumstance, a person is financially independent. Being financially independent requires much more than earning a high income, it requires financial intelligence for one to understand the difference between assets and liabilities, and the discipline to continuously invest in assets even when liabilities look more attractive and feeds the human desire for instant gratification.
Bringing it home is our cultural unique habit of always buying new set of clothes- popularly called Aso-ebi, for different events that regularly come up. From weddings to burials, birthday celebrations to baby dedications, all are mostly celebrated by coercing family and friends to part with some money for buying the chosen type of fabrics for the occasion, and in order not to be seen as being the odd one at the event, people do everything within their power to ensure they buy without any income on the money used. As Christian women, looking to become financially independent in future, this an area that we need to look into. Someone once told me that she refused to buy jewelry, lace & aso- ebi for 3 years and she built a house during the period.
Accountability on financial spending is very important to Christian women as mentioned in Luke 16:11-12 “so if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” God is interested in how we manage the wealth He entrusted in our care and He expects us to give proper account of our stewardship.
We all believe that when we have money, we will be able to invest. The Bible teaches us in 1Timothy 6:10 “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” Money is not the root of all evil but the love of money is. We need not cut corners for God to bless the works of our hands. A Scottish proverb says “Saving a small amount soon builds up to a large amount”.
Spend your money on what will bring you value
As Christian women, we have to make sacrifices. We need to give up things that are keeping us in debt. Financial transformation is a mindset. We need to take control of our lives, we need to work towards financial breakthrough. No more money stress but you have to start now to create wealth for the future. The one sure way to build wealth irrespective of people’s background is to work, earn, save and invest. Attaining financial breakthrough first starts with seeing the big picture about life. Planning for the future, knowing that age is fleeting, responsibilities will continue to grow and that a good portion of one’s earnings needs to be set aside for retirement age when active work ceases. Ecc 3:2b “A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted”.
Budgeting is key. It is a process of creating a plan to spend your money. It is simply balancing your expenses with your income. If they don’t balance and you spend more than you make, you will have a problem and slowly sink deeper into debt every year. Another critical process is writing down your daily expenses in a notepad. This is called tracking your cash flow, and it can give you a sense of control and confidence that makes it easier to make financial changes in your life. Get a notepad and start writing down everything you spend money on. Most people dread the idea of taking a close look at their expenditures but don’t put it off. Your findings at the end of the month when you review the list will surprise you. You will discover that you probably spend more on items that you shouldn’t, or that you pay too much for items that have better cost-effective alternatives.
I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to bring you to a realization that we cannot live the same way have been living. We have to learn all we can about various investment options; short term investments like Savings Account, Money Market Funds, Fixed Deposits, etc.… and long-term investments like Mutual Funds, Bonds and Debentures, Life Insurance Policies, Real Estates, Equity Markets etc. even acquiring skills on how to run a successful business as an Entrepreneur. In closing, I will leave you with this Bible passage. Deuteronomy 28: 12 “The Lord will open to you his good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow”
Getting our financial breakthrough mostly depend on us and what we are willing to do to get it (i.e sacrifice), along with trusting that God will honor our efforts as we rely on His guidance along the way. Going to the next level isn’t always easy, but the rewards are definitely worth the while.
God bless you all.
Otunba (Mrs.) ‘Debola Osibogun
Consumer Awareness and Financial Enlightenment Initiative (CAFEi)