No doubt, the issue of the salary will always come with some subtle controversy. From the embedded inclination that salaries can hardly be enough to some not getting theirs as at when due, the litanies of issues may be endless. Despite the seemingly frustrating situation surrounding the receiving and of spending salaries, it is imperative to educate ourselves on how to get the best out of the sometimes lousy situation.
The monthly circle for a salary earner is a permanent feature. It is well registered in the mind before the month ends or any period within the month when salaries are paid. The expectation is always remarkably high. Plans are made quite all right in anticipation of the salary; credits are sought for immediate needs with the hope of repayment immediately salaries are paid. Despite all these contingent arrangements, there are standard needs that must be met as a routine. It may be a fixed amount of feeding allowance, otherwise called ‘chop money’, that must be handed over to madam at the end of every month; the house rent due every month if it has not been paid for in advance; there is the accumulated electricity bill shared with other tenants or electricity recharge, for those who are lucky enough to have gotten the prepaid meter and possibly there are the charges for cleaners in some large compounds. Of course, the ubiquitous internet subscription has crept into the legions of ‘fixed’ expenditures. All these must be settled at the end of the month.
Therefore, while looking forward in earnest towards receiving his net pay, an average salary earner is also aware of the heap of problems/responsibilities awaiting the salary yet to come. The money is grossly insufficient; however, God saves the accounting department if the date of payment is not met. It will be seen as a great disappointment, followed by madam’s nagging at home, the ‘book me down’ seller ready to cause a commotion, and the partial suspension of the facility granted. As such, the payday must not be extended. Coming to the office and getting assurance from the Accounts Department of the impending credit alert, the sigh of relief is heaved; the greatly anticipated day has finally come. Delay in time, for instance, and paying late, does not bother the person because the day is more important than the hour.
He then thinks of escape routes from the ‘book me down’ seller and how he can enjoy himself, even if only for that day. Where he fails to escape the eagle eyes of the creditors who monitor every development, the payslip in his hand brings disillusion. He asks how he will survive the month. He exclaimes, “this month’s salary sef don already finish, na wa o! how man go take survive now? Anyway, God dey!” This is what happens to an average salary earner.
He has to take an Acetaminophen tablet on most paydays to cure the ‘pay day’ headache, as it will be thinking throughout the day. If he is still able to survive with a minimum scratch after the payment, the process of budgeting for the next salary then begins. Events crop up that require urgent attention, then the salary advance is sought, meaning the budget has scattered even before implementation, and he experiences the imbalance indefinitely.
The above problem has come to be because we have not actively planned our income allocation. Worse still, when plans are made at all, there is no way we cross-check to find out if the plan would work or not. Moreover, when it is not working, we do not seem to think about other alternatives. It is as if we are at the dead-end of the road. Nevertheless, we should do something.
The very first thing to do is to identify those basic needs. I mean the one we cannot do without and consider how much we spend on then in relation to our salaries. For instance, the feeding in the family. A pattern of feeding should be identified over a period. When visitors are not considered, what quantity of rice, garri, beans, or other food stuff we consume over normal periods. This is particularly important because our extended family culture makes us receive visitors without any notice, depending on the man’s status and the family’s size; the percentage allocated to them will vary from one family to the other.
Another thing to consider is the cost of transportation, which is prized especially for those working in the city. Besides, this same allocation should be made to take care of the family’s health as much as possible. However, I agree that the government and/or the employer should take adequate responsibility for providing medical healthcare for the workforce. If the health care delivery system is adequately taken care of, the burden of an average salary earner will be minimal.
Yes, when we borrow at a personal level or enjoy interest-free credit facilities like ‘the book me down’ facility, those facilities are not always tension-free. The seemingly free nature only brings tension at the end of every month. As much as possible, we should avoid the idea of spending the salaries before they are received because this can make nonsense of whatever plan we may have. Besides, it disrupts us from making plans, and efforts are concentrated on convincing the other party to grant our request, rather than to monitor our finances.
A salary earner should take the pain at intervals to monitor his expenditure pattern and consider areas draining his pockets, to do away with them as much as possible. It is also noticed that when plans are made at all, the moment the salary touches the hand, such plans are at best forgotten. The size of a pay packet should not make us discard plans made in the first instance to assist ourselves. Even if the plan does not work out the way we expected it, we should still try and come to know where the problem lies with our plan and then amended this to take care of areas of failure and correction taken consequent upon that.
Every Individual should also decide their living pattern based on what they earn and not fashion their lives after anyone. What is obtainable in one family may not exist in others.
Finally, consider what you earn, fashion what you spend towards that, and ensure that you achieve balance and not spend excessively, even if you cannot have surplus income.
This article was originally published by Premium Times.
Bolutife Oluwadele, a chartered accountant and a public policy and administration scholar, writes from Canada. He is the author of Thoughts of A Village Boy andcan be reached through: email@example.com