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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

How Women Can Make Smarter Financial Decisions

This guest post was written by Eloho Onwah. She is one of the most awesome peoplei have met online. She works as an investment manager in Lagos.

Here's her advice to young women just starting out professionally on how to secure their financial future and make smarter decisions with their money:
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One day, you are a young professional woman beginning your first job with the promise of your first pay check, next day you are ten years into same with the realization that you are living from paycheck to paycheck. How do we pivot and change this course?

The principle of compounded interest; Start early, Start small

This is one of life’s greatest secrets. As soon as you begin to earn, make a habit of investing before spending. Don’t leave monies lying fallow in your current or savings account that are likely to become prey to all the ‘non-essential’ spending. Please consider a money market mutual fund. Also make a habit of GIVING. It is a reliable source of joy and you always reap what you sow.

Budget!

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Feels like such a pain but it’s the only way to track spending and be sure you are living within your means. Aim for income in excess of expenses. Where expenses consistently exceed revenues, girlfriend, you are living above your means. Download a budget template today!

Acknowledge your realities; 'I cannot afford it' is a valid response.

Say no to pressure! Don’t do anything because your friends are doing it. You can opt out of getting that ‘asoebi’, or an ‘apartment in a highbrow area’ when you truly can’t afford it. If the celebrant really wants you there, asoebi will not be a barrier. 

Plan early

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Please live a little. Don’t be so focused on saving for the future that you waste today. But plan! Plan your trips way ahead, and find fun things that you can afford. Why not cheaper week day movies over weekends? Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses and avoid last minute spending; it costs you a lot more. 

Plan for retirement and life

Delayed gratification pays. Make sure that you have a retirement plan in place. In Nigeria, you can begin by ensuring your employer has you signed up to the mandatory Contributory Pension Scheme; augment that with additional voluntary savings and investments. A pension calculator will give you an idea of how much you need to put away to attain your dream pension.

For those in the U.S. who may not have pensions, there are also free retirement planning tools to help.

You can live on much less

Avoid debt to fund wasting assets. Cut down on spending ‘fat. ’In 2008, a friend needed to pay off a margin facility which the bank called down unexpectedly. To pay down in 10 months, she needed to reduce her spending by over 60%. Guess what? She realized she could live on much less than she was spending. We all can! 

Rainy days always come

Save for the rainy day; aim to have at least 3 months of your monthly income stashed away to tide you over in the eventuality of an unexpected job loss or circumstance. Having a side gig is also a great idea.

Lastly, be honest with yourself.

Financial planning is something you can do today that your future self will thank you for.

I recommend the A-Z of Personal Finance by Nimi Akinkugbe. It’s a fantastic resource.
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