Editor’s Note: This article is the last in a series of six sponsored posts for the Barclays Savings Challenge. Missed any? Catch up here.
As with most things in life, you eventually come full circle. Here I am, writing my final #AfricaSaves post in London – the same city that introduced me to Dr. Demartini, led to my life-changing insights on my relationship with money, and me resolving to change my spending habits.
There’s a famous Buddhist proverb that goes: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. In many ways I believe this to be true and in this instance, the ‘teacher’ was Barclays and its Savings Campaign.
I started off this series excited about the prospect of contributing content for the campaign, while connecting with Circumspecte’s audience – both new and old. Having commenced on my own savings journey before the campaign came along, I wasn’t particularly worried about how I would craft these posts each month. I already had answers to many of the questions I was asked to respond to. In many instances, my challenge was cutting down on what I had to say, finding the essence, and highlighting those aspects of saving that might be of value to you, Circumspecte’s readers. All that was somewhat expected.
What I didn’t anticipate was that I would discover so much about myself – about my beliefs regarding money, what I place value on, and how I relate to money. I remember reading my first post about how I equated money to “evil” and going, “Wow, Jemi. Really? Is this what you think?” Until that moment, I hadn’t understood it as such. Talk about earth shattering!
Beyond the insights about how to save, beyond understanding that wealth is more than just money (think health wealth, time wealth, family wealth, etc.), and beyond working with Barclays in order to share my story, the highlight of my Africa Saves journey has been this: pushing my own boundaries to learn and know myself, and encouraging others to do the same.
The economy might still be struggling, I could probably improve on a few other things, but the fact is, through Barclays, I had the opportunity to actually contemplate and draw lessons from things I might have otherwise reacted instinctively to and then ignored. Considering how fast the moments fly these days, I can only be grateful for this bubble of a period that insisted that I pay attention to my habits, spending, realizations, and interactions, and for all who came together to spark conversations beyond Circumspecte – on Facebook, Twitter and even a Google+ Hangout on Diaspora Investments & Returns on Remittances.
As Maya Angelou said, you do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, you do better.
I have been in London for almost a month and although I have purchased some odds and ends here and there, I am happy to report that I am by no means in a race to run down my bank account (#Winning). The guilt that normally came with buying things on a whim has transformed into a self-respect of sorts; a stiff-lipped determination to keep my promises to myself. I can honestly say that my spending has scaled down considerably. All this, in a year! Can you imagine?
I have also come to another important realization – we don’t need half the material things we have. When it comes down to it, there are the essentials and then there’s everything else. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m curious about what will happen if I apply the same intentional approach to saving to other aspects of my life – like what I eat, what I wear, how many things I own, how I interact with people. To trim down the fluff and keep things focused on the essence, on what actually matters. So who knows? I might just be embarking on another challenge soon – if and when I do, I hope you will join me.
For now, thank you all for the opportunity to share, to interact, to learn – and especially for reading and sharing your own journeys.
Follow the Barclays Savings Challenge and discussion on Twitter and Facebook. Share your own experience by using the hash tag #AfricaSaves. Visit the Barclays website for more information about their savings account.
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Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.