ASK HR: I want to be a team player, but it costs too much, I cannot afford it

Friday December 7 2018

I want to be a team player, but I can’t afford it.

I want to be a team player, but I can’t afford it. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

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Q. I am the firstborn and help my parents to educate my three younger siblings. Between this and catering for needs such as rent, fare to and fro work and meals, I am left with little money.

Unfortunately, at work, I am expected to contribute in case a colleague loses a relative, in case one of us has a birthday, and also socialise with colleagues on Fridays. I want to be a team player, but I can’t afford it, what do I do?


Assisting your family financially is commendable. In time, you are bound to be gratified by investing in your siblings’ education since it will enable them to fend for themselves in future.

You are not alone in your financial predicament. Even the well-heeled don’t have enough money to pay for every need that comes their way, it is therefore important to prioritise your needs. For instance, it would not be advisable to splurge your resources on socialising with colleagues while placing the wellbeing of your family at the bottom of your list.

Once you winnow your needs, even if it feels uncomfortable, you should be content attending to the essential ones that your resources permit and setting aside the unaffordable. There is greater discomfort in living beyond one’s means.

Besides meeting other needs, personal finance experts advise that you should save at least 10 percent of your income. If you are putting nothing aside for a rainy day, you may need to relook at your budget since you could unintentionally be erecting financial hurdles for yourself ahead.

Most people who save will tell you that it takes considerable sacrifice and focus to do so. You could consider seeking professional advice on managing your money. You could also find useful information concerning the subject online or in book stores.

Needless to state, it is important to participate in the social activities around you. What can you do with that you have? I ask because many of us make a mistake to measure giving only in financial terms, for instance, you can offer your time to visit your bereaved colleague, send birthday messages without a large box wrapped in shiny wrapping and enjoy social moments with friends without spending a fortune.

David Ramsey, American businessman and author, says, “Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this.”