We live in a society where a lot of people keep up fake appearances. People would generally judge you based on what you drive, where you live, which school children attend,where you worship, etc . When you appear to hobnob in circles where the rich frequent, then automatically people assume that you belong there.
A neighbor once told me that because the level you reach in life is a matter of the people you interact with. That you have to keep up the appearances of being very similar to the people you plan to be like – socially and financially.
He concluded that, people will generally feel an affinity for those that they feel are similar to them.. this belief of fake it until you make it
Here is a short story that clearly illustrates the yearning of people to keep up fake appearances… attempting to live and maintain a lifestyle that is beyond one’s means.
I came out of a meeting with my business partners only to find 23 missed calls from an old schoolmate who got retrenched from his place of work -along with others- a few months back. Instinctively I knew that Henry must have a very critical emergency on his hands or has fallen on hard financial times.
Having just recovered from a bout of malaria and not feeling too good, I did not have the inclination to call back.
On stepping into my car to start going home, my phone started rang.. from the same number that has called me 23 times earlier on.
I picked the call.
“Hi George. It’s me, Henry ”
“Yeah, I know. sorry I couldn’t pick your call as I was in a meeting. I hope no trouble?
“Well, I will need some financial help from you for my children school fees, and also our rent is now overdue, with my landlord pestering the life out of me.
Please o, George ”
“Like how much are we looking at here?” I asked carefully.
“We pay 600k a term for each of my three kids. That is 1.8 million per annum for each of them. Then, my rent is 1.8 million per annum and the landlord has been threatening fire and brimstone and finally gave us a deadline.
“So you need 7.2 million naira in total?”
“I have actually raised 500k. I’m looking at about 6.7 million only ”
There was a moment of silence as I ruminated in my mind about the best way to not let my anger burst out.
“You know what I would suggest? I asked icily.
Move to a cheaper house and move the kids to a more affordable school. Right now your living standard is obviously far higher than your means.
“We can’t move or change the children’s school ooo. Move from out Estate? Noooo”
“Why can’t you?”
“Well, errr, what will people say? You want them to laugh at us? I am the president of the PeaCock Club and my wife is also the chairlady of their Trade Union. Our social network is predicated on the environment in which we live and the lifestyle we maintain.
If it appears to people that we are falling on hard times it’ll be tough to bounce back to the level we were before.
This is just a temporary setback, George, and I’m sure we will overcome very quickly. Just to patch me through the bad times.”
“But good money is needed to maintain that level of lifestyle and you don’t have money now.”
“We have faith that God will turn things around. I have a few contracts that I’m pursuing and once I land one or two of them, things will be back to position. .
You yourself know that things were not bad for me before now. it is this rubbish government that is making things difficult for everybody”
“I am sorry, but I can’t help you. I still think your best bet is to sit down and look at how you can drastically reduce your expenditure profile. Then, when things are back to position you can adjust upwards as you wish ”
“Ok even if you don’t have much money right now, I will make do with whatever you can graciously give me now. I will scout around from other friends and see what they can come up with.
Even if it is million. I will surely pay you back, with interest sef”
“Sorry, but I need to go.” I said brusquely.
“OK how much can you afford to give me now?”
“I really need to go now. catch you some other time”
I hung up.
In my little sojourn on earth, I have seen financially irresponsible people try to learn financially on others who are more careful about their finances. They act as if tomorrow will not come, don’t save for emergencies, live a flamboyant life that is clearly beyond their means and then when they run into trouble, they become a nuisance to all their friends .
Like a millionaire advised,
1. Never ask your friends for financial help. They will look down on you.
2. No matter how bad things are, always look good. Do not let anyone see you sweat.
3. Do not spread your problems around. People will avoid you.
The lesson for me (despite not agreeing with all three points, is,
Don’t be a friend in need. A friend in need is a bloody nuisance.
Be prudent, live within your means and you shouldn’t run into too much trouble.