We love to spend it, so why don’t we talk about it? A mix of superstition, poor education and competition fuels this continued silence in our communities.
It is common for close relatives, close friends, even colleagues to be in the dark about one another’s income. Ask why and they’ll tell you they’re protecting themselves. You see, letting people know how much you earn is inviting them to do one or all of three things:
- Ask you for help
- Inflict a curse on you(this one is especially common in Nigerian circles)
- Judge you based on your lifestyle choices
Family ties are very close in our communities hence, many of us stretch our income to support several family members as often as possible. While this is admirable, guarding your income figure means that *no one can harass you to give more than you want to*. After all, how do they know you can afford it? If nobody knows how much you make, they’ll leave you be. After all, we are all ‘hustling’.
On the other hand, keeping your income a secret protects you from the forces of darkness out to get you. The stories of rich folk who fortify themselves with charms are not uncommon. The principle behind this is simple: what ‘they’ don’t know, ‘they’ can’t use against you.
For many still, financial literacy is something attained much later in life. Those privileged to grow up in comfortable homes only hear about budgets and money management within the classroom. Talk about the economy, inflation, credit facilities and debt are all theories until we enter the labour market. Even then, each person struggles in silence to understand the reality. Sometimes, it takes more than one mistake to learn the lesson, but nobody hears about it. And the cycle continues.
Social media has popularised the term ‘DM for prices’. Vendors are unwilling to publicly disclose their selling prices, they say, to keep their prices hidden from competitors. The desired outcome is that no one knows what the market price for that item is and so sellers can set prices at their whim. This is contrary to the rules of economics which order price through the forces of demand and supply.
Similarly, in the creative service industry, the culture of secrecy ensures that service providers have a lower negotiating power with clients. Many such providers agree that negotiating rates is the most unpleasant part of any contract, and it is because there are no public conversations about what these services should be worth.
Clearly, this taboo surrounding money conversations needs to be broken. We can only be empowered if we take charge of our finances and the first step is to share what we know as a community. Learning from one another brings us closer to achieving the financial independence we all seek.
There is a world where each of us can freely discuss our money fears, money hopes and even money triumphs. A popular African proverb reads- A man cannot sit alone to plan for prosperity. Your money journey doesn’t have to be travelled alone.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you believe that this is a secret which should continue to be kept or do you think that being more open about this empowers others? Share in the comments.
To learn more about how you can use REACH to better manage your finances, follow this link. REACH– Your best life is within reach.