We were privileged enough (I and my sister) to be sent to one of the expensive schools in Nigeria in those days. It was not because there was an abundance of money, but because my parents wanted the best for us. I must say, even though gaining admission into the school was tough and the tuition fees ludicrous, I still regret I ever attended the school. In my opinion, they didn’t lay a good foundation for me and other students as well and they did little to further the good work my primary school started (I was the best student in my primary school). I felt they were just living on past glory, but still I was able to learn a lot about life from there.
In my first year (Jss1), I was branded a geek, and my dressing didn’t help matters. Unfortunately, being a “JJC”, I succumbed to the wishes of my parents to make my shorts ridiculously short (all pun intended..lol). My mates were wearing baggy shorts, and I was wearing shorts that were a little longer than boxers. This cemented my “uncoolness” and “geekiness” in the eyes of my peers. In my first year, I turned out the best male student in my class, and was part of the top 5% of the whole set, so this further portrayed me as a geek.
I still had fun though, and life was not miserable because unlike high schools abroad where popular students pick on (bully) geeks and uncool people, ours was different. The most my mate would do was to tease me. In my third term of the same year, I sparked for my parents. I told them that I wasn’t going to continue wearing the shorts, and if they don’t buy new “normal” shorts for me, I would stop going to school. Dramatic right? Yeah! Thankfully my parents understood and succumbed to my wishes. I resumed one day with my new baggy shorts, and and pictured I had arrived. No more teasing me over my shorts.
In my second year of secondary school (Jss2), the school authorities separated the wheat from the shaft. What do I mean by this? They handpicked the best 50 students in the set and placed them in a class they called the “special class”. The remaining 300+ students were randomly placed in other classes. Luckily, I was part of the top 50 students. In this class I met big boys, rich and influential in the set. They were seen as the most popular boys but they also took their books seriously. I started rolling with them, and one was even my seat partner. I was tiny then, like the baby everyone protected. Life was good.
In my third year of secondary school (Jss3), the same thing happened. The top 50 were again placed in special class. I was among them yet again and my popularity had grown by this time. During this time I became close to the most popular girl, and people thought we were even dating. Then in Jss3 I was informed we would be in session for only two terms out of the three, with the third term being our long holiday. My friends were suggesting we visit each other during the holidays.
When this came up, I told my elder sister about it and she narrated an ordeal which happened to someone in her set when they were also in Jss3. People were visiting each other, and bringing reports to school on the number of cars found in a compound, the number of air conditioners, the number of Tv’s in the house, if the house has a mini-bar, what type of house it is (ie duplex, mansion, bungalow etc). If by any chance they fell under their standard, they laugh at them.
I very well knew that we were managing in my family, and were staying in one small apartment with just about 2 (not fantastic) cars or so. When I realized they were materialistic, I started dissociating myself from the so called popular kids. I was not ready to live a lie or be humiliated because my parents were not wealthy. I finally found a clique of down- to-earth-people I could be free with and tell my life’s story without getting laughed at.
What is the purpose of this story? Well, the simple message I am trying to pass across is that you should live a sustainable life. You need to live according to your purse and not live more than your financial capacity. In Nigeria for example, many like living large, I am not against it, but be sure that you have the means of sustaining your lifestyle if all doesn’t go as planned. Problem comes when like my story, you live in a rich environment, and you need to live lavish because of the pressure from your neighbours to maintain a certain standard. Living in an environment higher than your means would result into buying expensive cars, wearing expensive clothes, and furnishing your house with expensive furniture just in a bid to maintain your status and feel among.
The above is sadly what drives people to financial hiccups, debt and more. You need to start living a sustainable life so as to be free from debt. If you are currently in a neighbourhood were you feel pressured by your neighbours to live above your means, then you may need to consider moving to areas were such pressures do not exist.
To determine if your current lifestyle is sustainable, you need to ask yourself some questions which include: does my income adequately cover my expenses? Am I left with anything to save after paying for my expenses? If God forbid I lose my job and have to rely on pensions, can the meager money I receive from pensions sustain my current lifestyle? If you are an entrepreneur or sole proprietor, you should ask yourself: what if my business fails or my profit decreases by 50%, would I still be able to sustain my current lifestyle?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you need to evaluate your lifestyle and make some change to avoid debt and unnecessary spending. Speaking of unnecessary spending, check out how you can control your spending.