As the National Planning Commission is going around the country consulting on the new Vision for the country, it is becoming clear that a new Vision is now emerging with an important element being building a nation that is self-reliant. This self-reliance applies to individuals, households and the country as a whole.
For the past 56 years, Malawi has been politically independent but are we economically independent as a nation? Truth be told, we still remain a nation that looks up to donors for hand-outs and in turn the citizens look up to government for hand-outs too. And those in the villages look up to relatives in towns for handouts. It can’t go on like this. We need to be financially independent. We need to create wealth to support our families and social services sustainably.
In the emerging new Vision, however, the youth are central. But for us to achieve it and harness its benefits fully, we need a mind-set change. We all should think of a day when we are financially independent as youths. I am especially talking to you who are still schooling or still staying in your parent’s homes even after starting work. If you don’t plan for financial independence now, it will ambush you because your parents or loved ones will not be there forever.
Freedom from financial reliance on family and friends is very important. This is a freedom that many young people earn in their late teens to mid-twenties, as they get through college, earn a degree, find a job, and separate themselves from their parents or guardians. For many people, this is financial independence. They strive to be their own person, independent of the people around them, capable of standing on their own two feet. If you can survive for a significant period of time (multiple months) without going rapidly into debt or without a steady cash infusion from your parents or government hand-outs, then you are on the right path to achieving this goal. Generally, it requires a decent job or income source, a commitment to keeping that income source, discipline to spend within your means, and a desire to actually move on from a state of dependence.
Finally, but perhaps very important, is the financial independence that reflects freedom from financial reliance on employment. To be financially stable, I view this as true financial independence: an end to the financial reliance on employment. It doesn’t mean you have to stop working, it just means that income from your work is no longer a requirement for you to survive. It means you have got a number of businesses and investments (financials like shares, real property, farms, etc.). In this case you tend to give the best of yourself on your job because you work without fear or favour—you aim only at preserving your integrity as a star performer but don’t fear being fired.
Living on hand-outs is dehumanising and degrading. Financial independence is hence a great goal, but as with any goal, you have to define exactly what it means for you and then define a plan to meet that goal.
Blessed weekend to you and yours as you develop the mindset of living a financially independent life!