Thursday, October 3, 2013

Money Matters!

A very rich man once said, "If you took all the money in the world and divided it equally among everybody, it would soon be back in the same pockets it was before [you started]." This is only true because our knack for finances vary. While most are extravagant even in the midst of poverty, a few are prudent and know just how to carry on living counting their pennies.

My entire outlook in life was molded by the wise thoughts of my late Father Chief Seth Okachi Eleonu. Like most kids, I thought he was being too hard on me at the time, but I have recognized the fact that he was preparing me for the difficult task of leading an honest life and earning enough to take care of my family. He went about his life lessons in odd ways. Impacting knowledge by making me watch & practice what I had seen, teaching me by instructions and most of all allowing me to play.

Watching and Practice
I learned to watch and practice the hard way. As a young school boy, I spent most of my mid term breaks working as an artisan – as a carpenter one day, an electrician next break, helping out with a Welder one holiday and working with a Mechanic next one. This early exposure to professional handiwork resulted in the “Techie Guy” most of you know today. (see what my friends think of me This post however, is not about technical stuff though, it is about another hard lesson my Father taught me – Money Matters! 

Teaching Money Matters by Play
My Father is the most prudent man who ever lived. I often thought he was been stingy to himself as he did not care about the "Jones". He bought things based on function, price and durability rather than form or trend as most people would. He taught me to make a note of what I wanted and think around the issue contemplating other possible more cost effective options. He insisted on comparing prices and never to rush into the market. Most importantly, he taught me that it is hard to keep that which has not been obtained through personal development and hard work. According to him, "everything has a law controlling it. The car functions because of the law of combustion. The aircraft fly because of lift aerofoil and boats would not float with the law of dispersion. Money also has its own rule" – as he would put it “Easy come, Easy go!” 

These are sound advice I have imbibed and practiced throughout my life, to the ridicule of my friends and acquaintances.  In University (just as today), I was always the one friends ran to for a small loan when times where hard. I was usually the one with change when most would have squandered their pocket money. My friends would often say I am financially disciplined, but what I never told them was that I learned it through play. It is a known fact that most of us are not disciplined when it comes to finances. We are unable to resist the urge to SPEND, PAY, BUY. Little wonder why it is often difficult pay for ______ (type in your usual monthly head ache) subscription, let alone pay the children school fees. 

Abundant literature exists on how to make money and keep it, but theory is often very difficult to put to practice. Some clever guys have even devised bogus opportunities that gradually impoverish the uncanny – “Make $5000 from you house over the internet”. Others have opened up workshops to teach housewives how to make money by trading forex online, but they fall short to tell them that they will have to part with a lot of money in the process and end up broke (see Others less risk-averse folks have resorted to class rooms to learn the art. 

The Central Bank of Nigeria has drawn an inference with the financial literacy and the high exclusion rate in Nigeria. The Bank has commenced on a new initiative to include financial literacy in the educational system. Only recently, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi recently picked up chalk to teach school children about financial literacy (see all the photos He noted that most children nowadays struggle with ‘peer pressure’, which he said always pushes them to making unjustifiable demands from their parents, who also have needs and responsibilities to take care of. I am sure that many of them will miss the mark. What they will get is the sound advice. They however still need to practice what they have heard. As they say practice makes perfect and there is no better time to start practicing than as a youg school child.So, I have decided to let the secret out on how I practiced to be prudent. I believe it is a better and more effective way to learn prudence. – wait for it….
Play Monopoly! 
Yes, play the board game Monopoly™. Charles Darrow, the inventor of Monopoly couldn’t have evolved a better way to teach most economic principles in a tidy small board. As a child I played it at every passing spare time. We had protracted games involving all the kids in the neighborhood. Some would act as Bankers, others as advisers to players. We spurned a “Naija flavor” to it (there is now a Lagos edition), and changed some rules to make it even more interesting. We even encouraged teaming up to win and Yes, some people preferred to steal money houses, rub the bank when no one was watching, sell black market money and deeds to get rich. Monopoly taught me the following hard lessons in life;

  • all the financial terms and concepts I know without ever studying commerce or economics (two subjects I hated with a passion) terms like, Mortgage, Tax, Liquidation, Bankrupt, Rent, Title Deed, Remortgage, Utility Bill, Assets, Liquid, Float, Salary, etc.
  • we all start out equal but certain decisions will impact on ones ability to “Monopolize”
  • you can only spend what you have
  • you have to guard my business – no need to let the neighbors know what I have until…
  • bluffing is an art and it have saved many a lives
  • spending all you have to look good is not the aim of the game of life ultimate aim is to stay on and buy important deeds or deal out your opponents
  • Salary may not come at the end of a run (month)
  • you have to make provisions for Chance and falling fowl of the law
  •  that making the right “friends” is important
  • buying what you don’t need is like slashing your wrist and then taking a shower
  •  Its all about strategy -buying “Old Kent Road” can win the game and mortgaging “Mayfair” could be a life saver.

As a parent, I am now struggling to impact the same values on my children – Chisom (9) Oma (3) and Chime (well lets say for now he play the bank robber as he is only 1yr old and does not speak any English). You may argue that it will be difficult since the days when families gather around the TV in the sitting room are long gone. Hand held computer games, including mobile phones and the internet have taken over the minds of the youths, but I have painstakingly reintroduced Monopoly to my family and insisted that Sundays is game night and everyone must play educational games. I intend to keep it up until Chisom understands the concepts. I trust it will work for you too if you try. The CBN Governor warned that “people could become poor when they spend more than they earn, and would conversely, become wealthy when they spend less than they earn”. A stitch in time saves nine. Unless You Change How You Are, You'll Always Have What You've Got.


  1. Hear! Hear! Eme... We still friends :)

  2. Hi Eme ,have you tried the cash flow board game for kids.

  3. Shakabule ! This is nice, as it is inspiring ...especially the credit to your Dad and challenge to engage your kids amidst all the modern toys, gadgets, and bling bling. I say keep it up, for onlypersistence will pay off. At my house, Friday is game nite. We play an Africa Continent game drawn from monopoly conconcept, but based on the rich history and people of Africa. Cheers!

  4. Shakabule ! This is nice, as it is inspiring ...especially the credit to your Dad and challenge to engage your kids amidst all the modern toys, gadgets, and bling bling. I say keep it up, for onlypersistence will pay off. At my house, Friday is game nite. We play an Africa Continent game drawn from monopoly conconcept, but based on the rich history and people of Africa. Cheers!

  5. Inspiration! I remember some of your stories!

  6. Inspiration! I remember some of your stories!