Strive For Financial Security (Advice to civil servants)
What I have witnessed in recent years in Nigeria has got me thinking about an incident from the past and led me to the conclusion that civil servants who want to survive must strive for financial security. First, I will tell the story of the incident and proffer the advice therefrom to my colleagues in the civil service.
Encounter With An Elderly Professor
Many years ago, I was invited to a workshop in Abuja. There I met a professor whom I’ll simply call B. B was about to retire or had recently retired (I forget which). But I clearly remember that he was weighing what he would do with his gratuity when he received it.
He quoted the following Bible verse: “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house” – Proverbs 24:27 (NIV).
He interpreted it to mean that it would be better to use the money due him after his years of service to set up a business and subsequently use the proceeds to build a house, rather than funnel that money into a building project which would not yield any monetary gain. He asked for my opinion and I absolutely agreed with him.
On the last day of the workshop when the organisers were paying honoraria to the participants and resource persons, I witnessed an embarrassing scene. It turned out that B had not been invited to the workshop but showed up hoping that the organisers will add his name to the list and pay him out of respect. I don’t know how the matter was settled, but I think it was probably in B’s favour because I suspect he had pulled off that sort of scheme before.
Why am I telling this sad story? It’s so that we save ourselves from becoming victims of such humiliating situations in future. This we can do if we begin to make provision for our future early enough.
Ways To Strive For Financial Security
Set up a small business:
My brother, my sister, although things are hard, we must number our days with wisdom and prudently handle whatever God gives us. When God blesses you, put the money into something that will generate revenue and think about how you will cope in your old age.
I want to clarify that I’m not blaming B because if you think lecturers are poorly paid today, you can’t imagine what they received in the 1980’s and 90’s. Plus gratuities and pensions took months or even years to process then and many retirees died of hardship waiting for them. So, I’m just using B’s case as a cautionary tale.
Thankfully, not every business requires a capital outlay that you can’t fund. You can offer services according to your skills- teaching lessons, braiding hair, content creation, etc. You can start small and, by God’s grace, you may eventually expand and hire help.
Just establish something that can yield a little money so you don’t become destitute later. The economic situation in Nigeria is very bad and the situation in the advanced nations doesn’t give cause for cheer or hope that things will get better.
If you’re a civil servant, you’re entitled to gratuity and pension, but you see how corruption and inflation are making nonsense of everything.
Therefore, before you buy a bigger car, move into a bigger rented apartment/house, join that social club with heavy dues, etc., get your fields ready, as the Bible says.
Besides, you may need the proceeds of your business to get by even while you’re in service due to delays in payment of salaries, sometimes lasting months and years, or lay offs which can come without warning.
Attain freedom from tenancy:
Build yourself a house as soon as possible, even if it’s just a small bungalow, because the percentage of their earnings that go into rent is becoming unsustainable for most people.
Don’t take out the kind of mortgage that gulps a big chunk of your monthly pay and opens you up to repossession of the house if you default. Try to get a little property of your own no matter how small so that you won’t be having nightmares wondering how to pay your rent when you retire.
Don’t Place Your Hopes On People
If you have attained a certain position in life, people hardly believe any sob story you tell. In fact, most people don’t want to hear it. They take for granted that you can take care of yourself and your family and expect that you help them occasionally.
I feel I must emphasise this: Do not plan to depend on anyone, not even relatives, including your children, if you have any. Having your own money will help you to maintain your independence for a long time and interact with friends and relatives on your own terms. Paying your bills will cause people around you to treat you with respect even when you require care due to ill health rather than being seen as a burden or liability.
Don’t give anyone room to insult you when your almond tree blossoms because you lack financial security and seek their help. Rather covenant with God that you shall move up, not down, all your life and receive the wisdom and favour to make that a reality in Jesus’ name.
I welcome your reactions to this post.
Kindly share other ways you can think of through which we can strive for financial security.