AJOz: At 14, I was forced into becoming fully responsible for financial planning for my brother and I. Our parents had to return to Sierra Leone to look after my grandma, who was quite ill. Due to a series of unfortunate events – “Lemony Snicket” – my brother (12) and I (14) ended up living unaccompanied, so I had sole responsibility for us and our financial needs. This was my first encounter with bills, groceries and school uniforms. Thank goodness for NETTO!
At the age of 17, Ruth and I were expectant parents, so we had to financially level up because we had a little person depending on us now. After Ruth spoke with the manager, I applied for a post in McDonalds and got the job but I didn’t fit in, so I left! I found a job and while I was studying at sixth form and Ruth was at college, we were also working, I was in Sainsbury’s and JD whilst Ruth was at McDonald’s.
At 18, we both got our flats. I had my 1 bed apartment on the 9th floor of the Aylesbury Estate and Ruth was in Waterloo on the second floor. This meant our budgeting skills had to level up once more. Two house holds, two sets of bills and groceries. To top it all off, our daughter, who was too young to decide (demanded) she wanted to go to school with other children. She wasn’t the legal age to start school so we put her into a private nursery and this was wayyyyy before the 16 hours free for three year olds. By this time we were working part time (youth work) and studying at Uni, how do we make this work? We scraped together what we could… the rest, is a post for another time.
In the UK, we had one account each, for a long time into our adult life. All salaries and other monies came in and went out of the same account. So as you can imagine we didn’t have a grip on our finances and lived paycheque to paycheque, month to month. Getting by but just barely.
It’s sad that this thing, this financial burden, which will feature in all your adult life was never a lesson in school or a lesson from our parents! This was and still is typical of the majority of children from certain parts of London, the uk, the world…
After some time, we moved-in together and clubbed together what little money we had and figured out we needed an account for incoming and another for outgoings. Genius! Two accounts are better than one!
From this point on, we began to really take financial responsibility for our family’s futures and started to develop our five year plans; marriage, house, University, children and other grown up things we have to do. We wanted all of these things but didn’t really understand how crucial our budgeting skills and access to multiple accounts, including joint, was linked to this.
Our daughter was invited to a birthday party by one of her friends at school. It was a game changer! Just a stone’s throw from us. It really showed us how the other half lived… who knew there were people who lived a completely different lifestyle to us? We arrived to art on the hallway leading up to a living room bigger than half of our flat. Space was adorned by African art and images from their family exploits to Africa and finally, there it was. It was the first time we saw a wall-mounted television and this was before they were even advertised.
Ruth went exploring and found out that the flat continued… they had in fact bought two flats and knocked through to make a huge U shaped property and what had blown us away was I fact what looked like the “entertainment quarter”.
We weren’t envious, we’ve never been those type of people. We are firm believers that what you put out to the universe is what you get back, however, this motivated us to begin our journey that will see us visit numerous countries and ultimately migrate to Australia, as we realised, THERE. WAS. MORE! More than what we had seen, more than what we had been shown.
We began saving, which was previously a foreign concept to us! We had a little more money coming in and looked at what we could cut back on. We vowed, never to buy anything we couldn’t buy twice, as if you can’t buy it twice can you really afford it? We were already on the way to following one of Lisa Nicholes’s mantras without even knowing.
Eventually, we began seeing the transformation we wanted to see in our lives. It started off small, with a new fridge, here, a cooker there and eventually we were picking up our own flat-screen wall-mount tv, and still had savings for those ”rainy days”.
We are not materialists, however, it felt good to be able to do some of these things especially as early as 22/ 23 years old! Especially as we never thought it would be in reach. Do people “like us” really have nice things?
As we moved through uni we continued with our plans and continued to save. We even managed our first overseas holiday when our daughter was 3 and we were 21. Can you guess where we went?!? You guessed it, Australia to see the family.
As we finished uni and got better jobs, we levelled you once more and was able to increase the amount we saved each month. We set up a standing order that £500 was transferred to our savings account each month and as our careers “levelled up” the amount we were saving monthly levelled up and we were saving £1,000-£1,500 a month.
This disciple and what we call “poverty mind set” has put us in a great place now in your 30’s as we still “ball on a budget” and spend modestly. I often chuckle to myself as we still consult one another if we are going to spend over £100, not because we have to anymore but because it’s a great way to ensure we stay in track and hold each other accountable.
We don’t want you to read this and think it was easy, it was a real struggle. We missed out on a lot of night outs, the latest trainers etc. Things that we really important when we were in our late teens and early 20’s but we had agreed on a plan and were sticking to it.
Thank you for your generous and thoughtful gift of time. You could be anywhere else at this moment but you chose to be here reading our blog and for that, you get to click on this secret link and enjoy.
Peace, Love and Happiness
The Jalloh Family