Obstacles to planning

“I don’t want to plan and save because it is not in my culture – We are generous and planning makes me feel selfish.”  “I give when I am asked. I can’t plan it.” Planning is probably the most essential skill to manage money. Money is limited and our incomes hardly ever coincide with our expenses: we may earn once a month but spend on a daily basis, and have one big expense once a year. Because of this time mismatch, we have to think ahead on how to use our incomes between short term (spending) and longer term (savings for future spending). But after running activities on planning during training workshops, when we ask later on whether participants do their budget, the positive response is low. What prevent us from planning even though we understand that it is useful? We will go through the main obstacles mentioned by participants and try to give ideas on how to overcome them.

Does planning make us selfish? By not planning, you may put yourself in the position of relying on others’ generosity: if you don’t plan and run out of money for a yearly bill for example, you will need to ask others for money. Planning helps you avoid or minimise being a burden for others.

Planning is about priorities and what matters most in our lives. Plan how much you can be generous: as soon as you earn an income, think carefully how you will share it: to support your very own family’s immediate needs (shelter, food, education, hygiene…) and longer term needs (higher education, repairs, health, for example) and relatives and friends. Planning how much you may support others makes it sustainable: you can commit for example to pay half the rent of your sick aunt -this regular giving may help her more than sporadic ones. Planning how much you can give also prompts you to think how best to share: helping your nephew pay back a debt he took to go to university or paying for your uncle’s new car? Remember too that people who ask may not be the ones who need most help.

One big expense around the world is festivals and ceremonies. The money is mostly spent on food, drinks and clothes – and enrich shops and companies that produce them and often shifts money out of your community. A way to be generous is to plan to spend differently during festivals, and giving this money locally to ensure that it really helps others and have a positive impact on your community.

Saying “no” can also be generous: if relatives often ask for money, you may want to sit and help them plan their income and expenses and identify together how to balance both. Teaching skills is a precious gift too. Planning is a tool that prompts us to think before spending – if our intention is to help others, by setting priorities, planning can enable us to be even more generous.

to be continued…

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