Fresh into high school, my grandma bought me the clay safe with a coin hole. She advised that I needed to learn the art of saving and that if I would be able to manage “toro and kobo”, then I would have no problems managing “millions”. I was thrilled only as a child can be and decided to save for the entire term, I did a mental sum and arrived at an average savings of at least two thousand Naira which I could use to buy something grand during the holiday. Thus began my journey into financial intelligence and savings.
I was entitled to fifty Naira a day as my pocket money for the school day, as school was a long stroll from home, and tap water was free, I decided I would save all of the fifty Naira on every day that I could, besides, I had great friends to keep me company to and from school, thus, all I had to do every day was maintain a low profile during break and lower my gaze when boys were buying all sorts of delicacies. This taught me patience, perseverance and contentment.
I kept this up for a month, and while nobody knew or had an idea what was happening, they all started saying I was looking lean and was I sure I was alright. Mom came visiting one day and she was afraid I was looking “too lean” and she gave me two hundred Naira and also promised to deliver bread, butter and cocoa drink every other day to serve as “shock absorbers”. The two hundred Naira also went down the one eyed bank of clay.
I reached my benchmark of one term, and by my estimate, I would have about three thousand Naira, given all the extra money from family and well wishers. At this point, I decided, why stop now, why not carry on and maybe I can have ten thousand Naira by the end of the year and tell everybody that I would like to buy a pair of Nike trainers, or maybe even timberland boots. I had seen one of those at L.O.P (Land Of Plenty – where the big boys get their orijo baffs from) while window shopping with friends and it would be nice to have that as a christmas gift for myself.
Now, remember this is only a child and I had only a vague idea of the intricacies of money spending and was quite naive, therefore, before you know it, I had started telling people about my plan to save and become a “millionaire” by judiciously saving my money in my personal hand made bank.
Typically, people will want to take advantage of this, a young child with money, surely, he has no need for this. They came in the guise of borrowing…
Now the thing about this clay bank is that you can take your money out of it whenever you need it, you will require some skill, patience and a sort of caliper tool of average length and some considerable thickness. So it was that I started giving loans, I felt happy to be helping out, these were afterall adults, surely, they would pay back… apparently not.
I realised too late that these guys were out to milk me, you can’t trust people, especially when they aren’t family, plus good help is hard to find, I heard the older people say that a few times. I should have paid more attention. So I had lost like one thousand and five hundred Naira to bad loans and was only able to recover about three hundred and fifty Naira, and not whole but in little sad pieces.
I counted my losses and moved on, wiser. I was able to maintain a low profile henceforth, as well as learnt a very important life lesson, asides figuring out how a target savings account works.
This savings culture is what I have imbibed all my life, however, I have still not learned to untrust people as I give money and still have those bad loans. At the end of the day though, I am just happy to be able to trace one of my characters to childhood and thank God for the way I was raised.
You see, money isn’t everything, it’s important, no doubt but it isn’t everything. There are a few things money can’t buy and these few are priceless.