Your Shame is in your pocket!
The first time I heard that statement was in church. The Pastor was making a point about not keeping up with the Joneses. I have had to reflect on that statement several times over the course of my journey to achieving financial wellness and I realize how relevant it was to the subject of Personal finance.
The reality is that the finances of many are hindered not by the fact that they do not earn enough, but because of what I call the three killer pressures; peer pressure, societal pressure, and family pressure. One or a combination of these pressures sometimes has a devastating effect on our finances that the results are irreversible. At the root of these pressures is a deep fear of not being put to shame. Shame is a propelling force that makes us succumb easily to pressure. It is a concept we know too well in Africa.
Rachel Nyaradzo Adams did a fantastic piece titled “of Anger and Shame in Africa” where she tried to capture the conflicting emotions besetting an African on the subject of anger and shame. It is an interesting article, and I will recommend Africans to read that article. My interest is not to have an intellectual debate on the subject matter, but to note that in Africa, the need to prevent shame can sometimes leave a gaping hole in the finances of average families. Interestingly, the things we are most ashamed about are the things those in the west do not care a bit about. Somewhere along the line, there is a need for a huge realignment of priorities and values.
I have attended meetings where the Europeans in our midst are comfortable in their short-sleeved polo shirts and old blackberry phones while we Africans are adorned in the latest Armani suits, Gucci bags, LVT belts and iPhone. Yet we are the ones requiring the favour. I have observed sometimes will deep pain how rather than placing value on intangible assets like the quality of our thoughts and intellectual property; we are very happy to place value on the tangible items that give us that sense of accomplishment. Makes me really wonder what the west must think of us. Again, that Rachel Adams article comes to mind.
In the same way, it is obvious to me that the simplest cure for financial recklessness is to “Spend less than you earn”, I’m also sure that the fundamental foundation of financial wellness is the re-alignment of your value system from the seemingly tangible items to the intangible. That shift in value assessment will save you several thousand and even millions if you understand that you and only you are in control of your “Shame”.
I hope (In several articles), to explore the subject of how succumbing to pressure impacts our finances. How incredibly potent the issue of "Shame" can impact on our personal balance sheet. Hopefully, we would learn how to counter pressure via some simple common-sense approach aimed at "Keeping your shame in your pocket".