I recently bumped into an album with hard copies of my baby pictures that were so adorable. I was a chubby and bubbly baby spotting a drooling grin in almost all my photos.
There was this particular photo of my mother carrying me as I received some cash from my grandmother with a wide smile plastered across my round face.
The photo was taken during my itega – a traditional baby welcoming ceremony to usher the newest member into the family.
As I stared into my tiny hand, tightly clutching at a crispy note, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to that cash.
“I wonder what would happen if I went to request my mother for that money. Of course she spent it then, although I was the one given.
I could tell her it was a loan. I loaned her some cash while I was three months old. She knows how tough it’s been after graduation, she would totally understand why am claiming the money 25 years later. I won’t even charge interest,” I mused silently.
At that moment I had a flashback of some incident that happened when I was around ten years old. I had been given some cash by those generous uncles whom we all love after he paid us a visit.
As I politely received the cash, I noticed my mother smiling and I thought to myself that she was happy for me. Boy was I wrong! She had that money in her custody way before my uncle left our compound.
Since am very inquisitive, I pressed to know why she had taken my money. With all the patience she could muster, my mother explained that I did not need the money because it was her job and my dad’s to provide for me.
That flashback dissuaded me from going to claim my 25-year-old “loan” because I imagined how futile that conversation would be.
“Hey mum darling, I was…“
“Mum darling? Ha! Why do I feel like you are about to ask for something that am likely to say no to?”
“Mum, it’s not like that. Here’s a funny story, I came across this picture of my itega…“
“Oh! You were cute as a button. That was a wonderful day with lots of food, family and friends.”
“Yes mum, I saw. And presents too, I saw grandma gave me cash. By the way, what happened to that money mum? I was like three months…”
“Exactly, you were three months old, I bought you diapers and cod liver oil.”
Then that topic would be closed. Never mind she used nappies for my siblings and I, her response would have been along the lines of diaper.
I have faint childhood memories of grimacing every morning after gulping down a spoonful of cod liver oil which is why I imagined she would throw in cod liver oil to my baby expenses in accounting for the cash I received as a baby. I didn’t bother to “claim” the money.
My childhood experiences greatly influenced my current relationship with money. You see, I never learnt to handle cash.
When the piggy bank craze hit my peers in kindergarten and everyone was discussing jumbo junior, I was not involved in those financial conversations.
At some point, my mother sold pastries from our home but I was never interested in helping count the money. I didn’t mind sneaking a few warm cakes to my room though for midnight snack.
ART OF SAVING CASH
As I got to my teens, my grandmother with whom we shared a compound started teaching me the art of saving cash.
I learnt to save but when it was time to pry-open the small metallic box that served as home-bank, I never knew what to do with the money. I would spend some, give out some and take back the rest to the new metallic box. Once my box was so full because I was reluctant to open it and deal with the stress of what to do with the cash. Those were “good problems” of too much cash and not much use for it.
Flash-forward to present day, I have less money than I need but the stunner is, I do not know how to handle cash. If there was a way to get things done without involving money, I would happily go down that route.
I realised that for instance, I am an impulse buyer bordering dangerously on being a hoarder. Take for example the tin of gelatin I have lying in our kitchen cabinet.
I read online how gelatin is great for skin tenacity, bought it but used it only once.
After I got my fitness enthusiasm on, my spendthrift tendencies skyrocketed. From workout equipment, to expensive healthy cooking oils and gluten free products, I bought it all. I still do.
Last week I stumbled upon a gig that scored me a few bucks and I went on a shopping spree to get jumbo oats, a new skipping rope, many heads of broccoli and cauliflower and even indulged in a two hour aerobics class at a fancy gym.
I was almost buying a stationary bike but my account balance suggested otherwise.
When am not impulse buying, I am committing cash in saving plans that deduct this money straight from the bank. The phobia to manage cash makes me avoid it like the plague.
The little that makes its way to my pocket is quickly shown the exit door. I feel this is not a healthy relationship with money and it could be robbing me of enjoying a commodity that is otherwise highly sought after by people from all works of life.
As it is, I am financially unfit and that is not a fabulous thing at all.
Fit&Fab is a blog series by Marion Maina who lost 30kg during her weight loss journey that started two years ago and is now in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail: [email protected]