My Journey From Financial Shock To Financial Stability
Even after more than 20 years, the day still plays out so vividly in my head. My mum walking into the bedroom to say that our daddy wasn’t coming back. As a child I didn’t quite understand what that meant. Is he stuck somewhere? I asked. “Daddy has passed away darling”, were the words that came back from my mother’s mouth.
The emotions are impossible to describe, and something that I wish no child ever had to experience. While he had been alive, we lived the type of comfortable life that was the norm for the family of an officer within the Army. Now, it was clear that in so many ways that we could not even begin to comprehend, life would never be the same again.
The deep impact of his absence stayed with us in many ways, and for many years, and honestly, I don’t believe that you ever really stop grieving from a significant loss such as this.
The immediate change that became apparent to us was the rapid disappearance of the financial security that my father’s job had provided for us. Five essential financial toolkits for families, something that I can now clearly and eagerly articulate were just not there. Instead as a household we had:
· No life insurance policy
· No long-term savings
· No real pension, or pension plan
· No special savings set aside for us kids
· No funds to turn to in case of an emergency
Through some difficult years, we survived largely through the kindness of family friends and sometimes even strangers. My mum who never really needed to understand the household finances found herself thrust into the forefront, trying to balance the books and provide us with all that we needed.
Four years after that incident, she realised that the best option she had was to leave the only country she had ever known, and instead migrate to the UK to provide stability for us. Initially she came alone to lay the foundations for our future, and shortly afterwards, we all joined her.
Moving to the UK
As I stepped off the plane at Heathrow and felt the freezing January chill cut through me, I realised that the UK provided opportunity for a fresh start. Growing up in Nigeria, one thing that was deeply instilled into all of us from a young age was the importance of education. Education was the key and the way out, and I fully embraced this.
Almost two and half years after migrating to the UK, I was awarded a place to study Physics at the University of Oxford. Four years, and a few grey hairs later, I chose to venture into financial services, training and eventually qualifying as an Actuary and investment professional.
To this day, I still work in the investment industry. I’ve learned plenty of things from working in investment, some of which I won’t go into detail about (I’ve watched my wife’s eyes glaze over several times when I’ve tried) but other of which have proved truly invaluable in arming me with the type of financial education that has been able to transform not just my life, but the lives of my friends and family.
I had ticked the important boxes of academic achiever and ability to get a decent job, yet something was still missing.
As I progressed in my career in the investment industry, I found myself truly understanding my finances for the very first time. I learned about pensions, and investments. I swatted up on debt, and budgeting, and learned how to build the type of financial stability that would help to cushion both me and my family from the type of life changing event that had previously impacted our lives.
My initial excitement from this new knowledge soon simmered down as I realised how few people shared it. Time after time, I saw hardworking mothers, fathers and friends earning decent wages but still struggling, not from lack of finance, but from lack of financial education, particularly the type that would help them understand how to protect against future shocks.
The more I saw this, the more unacceptable it became, and I was desperate to change it. And so came MoneyNotes and my evergreen passion to share financial education and coaching to all who want it. I truly believe that there is much more to life than money, but the truth is for many of us, when we don’t have a grasp on our finances, other aspects of our lives, particularly our mental health and wellbeing can soon begin to suffer.
Life is unpredictable, and for better or worse we can rarely control what it decides to throw at us. What we can control is how we prepare ourselves to roll with the ups and down, emotionally, physically and of course financially.