By Chimezie Agwu
Economy for a rainy day is a term used to mean saving money for the future. Is it easy? Not at all. It takes a strong will and self-sacrifice to be able to save something for tomorrow. One of the lessons that the COVID-19 pandemic must have taught many people is the need to save money.
When I was in middle school, there was a small box that hung prominently on the wall of the main school block along the passage. It bore the inscription SDF meaning (Self-Denial Fund). Students were encouraged to deposit coins in their weekly pocket money box of one shilling per student.
The money collected during a period was sent to the needy through various registered organizations in the country. Through this practice, students were taught acts of charity and instilled in them the need to save money.
Some carpenters sometimes build small wooden boxes with a small opening at the top, to put money in to save money. It is known as “kolo” among the Yorubas. The boxes are provided to selected market women to be sold to interested members of the public. Ceramic industries also cast similar objects to save money. The devices are usually opened on festive occasions like Christmas, Easter or at “Ileya” when the owners access reasonable sums of money for their needs.
A person should get into the habit of saving money right from the start. It is wrong to think that you can only save money when you earn a big salary. The truth is that if one cannot save something while his salary is N30,000.00 per month, one cannot do it even if he is paid N500,000.00 per month. Each kobo will always be marked for something until there is nothing left to save.
The secret to saving money mainly lies in cutting his coat according to his clothes and being content with what God has blessed him with.
To create awareness in the minds of people, especially young people, the International Institute of Savings Banks has designated October 31 every year as World Savings Day. The day is meant to create greater awareness in the minds of people around the world of the essence of saving. It is also about having savings recognized as an important means of capital formation for development.
It will be recalled that in the early 1970s and 1980s, the Federal Savings Bank (now merged with another bank) used to observe World Savings Day by issuing posters and flyers of the World Savings Day to their customers and members of the public. There were also publicity campaigns on radio, television and in the press. Visits to certain schools and souvenirs given to young customers were carried out.
In a similar development, banks are observing World Savings Day (WSD) with an outreach program for primary and secondary school students across the country to highlight the need for Nigerian students to cultivate the habit of develop their finances through regular savings.
Some people may wonder why there is so much emphasis on savings. The vicissitudes of life and the unpredictability of the future demand that a person be alert “for the eventuality” (my apologies to the late Dr KO Mbadiwe) at all times of their existence. When a person who is in dire straits goes to a close friend or relative for a loan of around N100,000.00 and is asked how much he already has on hand, he would be more likely to get help if he already had certain tangible amount in his account only when he indicates a void situation. This is the very essence of saving. It gives a stamp of respectability as it boosts one’s ego and improves self-esteem.
The quest for massive money has given rise to different forms of savings. There is “esusu” whereby a number of people pledge to equally contribute a large sum of money to be given to one person at the end of a month while different people take turns to collect huge sums of money in the following months. The catch in this arrangement is that sometimes one person may feel reluctant to contribute for others. after collecting dues from other members.
There is another form of savings known in local parlance as ‘ajo’. It is practiced mainly by market women and other traders. The “alajo”, who can be a man or a woman, circulates daily to collect money from interested traders according to the capacity of each trader. At the end of each month, when he reimburses his clients, he deducts one day’s contribution from the total amount paid by each for his services. There have been no reports of any leaking or embezzlement of the money he collected. This perhaps explains the high patronage ‘ajo’ enjoys in the markets.
The urge to make a quick buck to get rich overnight has often driven many people into committing crimes or making fake business deals that leave them poorer and helpless in the hands of scammers. For example, the operators of the Ponzi schemes are known to have defrauded many Nigerians out of billions of naira. Painfully, many still show interest in the fake bank.
The saying that money doesn’t grow on trees is invaluable advice. Money is wasted when it is not invested wisely, or when it is thrown away in gambling or wasted in merriment. Interest accrued on money saved in a traditional bank may not be high, but the depositor is assured of security and peace of mind. The slogan of the now defunct Caisse Fédérale d’Epargne is still valid: “Save for rainy days. Saving makes sense”.
For further comments, please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0909 041 9057; [email protected]