Self-Imposed Weight of Financial Stress


Aunty Joke entered the mall to buy groceries for the month for her and Junior, her 11 years old son she has been trying to raise single-handedly since Papa Junior never took responsibility. She has worked with an insurance company for a decade or so but the lengthy years of service do not translate to savings or amount to any reasonable stock of assets. But one thing you can take away from Aunty is that she is a superb dresser. The quality of her wardrobe runs miles ahead of the quality of her living and that of Junior. How she pulls that off I can’t say.

As she was about few meters away from the entrance of the supermarket, she suddenly stopped, as if she saw an old-time school friend. Her face was immediately lighted with a smile. Facing her was a beautiful pink dress displayed conspicuously in front of a boutique adjacent to the store with the intent of seducing customers to come in. ‘A window shop or even a feel and try of this dress won’t hurt’, Aunty convinced herself as she knew she couldn’t spare even a dime on anything outside the items on her list. The only extra cash in her bag is Junior’s school fees.

The shop owner is an Angel. She offered a whopping 20% discount for such a designer and there was this irresistible bag that blended with the dress. Aunty tried it on and everybody around screamed in the ecstasy of what beauty the two items instantly produced on her. What would she do amidst the cheering admirers, her large appetite for good clothes and her mean and lean budget that gives no room for extras? Behind her was an elegant and deep-pursed woman, who kept staring at the dress aunty desired.  It seemed she was waiting to grab the same dress the minute it slipped off Aunty’s fingers. This even fuelled Mama Junior’s desire the more.

If the dress must leave the shop with her, then 50% of the month’s grocery would be sacrificed. This only indicates that she and her son would be a step closer to acute malnutrition. If the shoe must accompany the dress then 25% of Junior’s school fees would become the casualty. These are  no sane permutations, but guess what!, some half an hour after, Aunty Ajoke walked out of the shop with the two items in her hands, smile on her face as she thought of the dinner she would attend the following week, but more intense was the ‘you are now sunk’ guilt-ravaged feeling that bedded her mind.

Maybe with a lot of garri and small ration food, they would get by this month. Maybe after a whole lot of self-esteem sapping pleas, she would be given two weeks grace to come up with junior’s school fees in full. The school has a no part payment policy. If she didn’t look for a way to the source(borrow) and make up for the shortfall, chances of frivolously lavishing what remained of the school fees on another spontaneous acquisition would not be far-fetched.

Maybe these daily wrong financial decisions are reasons Aunty Joke has nothing to show in way of savings, personal assets or investments after a decade of work. Maybe the self-imposed weight of financial tightness accounts for her ever declining productivity at work and thus drought of promotion. In fact, Junior’s poor performance at school is traceable in part to this source.  Nothing is about to change for better until Aunty changes!


WRITTEN BY: Opebiyi Dunsin

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