I never thought I would one day listen to as many news programmes as I do now. It is not as if there is anything cheering going on these days, is there? Reporters won’t let us forget the fact that there’s war in Syria, an earthquake in China and riots in Cyprus. At the end of an hour long BBC news programme, you will have an overview of the current disasters around the world, plus a quick flash of the latest attack by Boko Haram in Nigeria if there are no rampant epidemics to report from the horn of Africa. Financial news is no better, at least here in the UK, as hardly a month goes by without some tax increase, decrease , re-organisation or creation which actually means the same thing: more taxes!
Listening to the news, no matter how dreary, is a necessity because I know I have to be aware of things that may affect my life. Take new changes to laws: they are always highlighted and explained on news and other current affairs programmes in the UK. No one can claim to be ignorant of these laws because they are constantly in the media and if you fall foul of these laws you will bear the consequences.
Listening to news on current affairs and financial matters shouldn’t be a big deal to average educated Nigerian. However, many people don’t develop this habit and go about life gleaning information from unreliable sources and end up getting themselves into avoidable trouble.
This is particularly true of women, who tend to rely on their husbands or men generally to fill them in on financial and political events, as if they can’t read or listen to news themselves and form their opinion. I am not picking on women but many older women in the UK are now in all sorts of financial trouble simply because they did not pay attention to the issues that were at hand a few years ago. They weren’t used to dealing with laws, banks, financial advisers and paperwork and have ended up being bankrupt.
Some twenty years or so many Nigerian women got work permits to work as nurses and healthcare workers in the UK. Being hard-working and industrious, these women worked all the shifts available and many could soon afford enough money to pay the deposit to banks to buy their own properties. The problem was that most of these women were not used making big financial decisions, neither were they aware of changing trends in the housing market.
All of these issues were regularly featured in the news. They didn’t pay attention to programmes that discussed problems associated buying properties in certain areas. In fact, many of them could not be bothered to read the financial details of the contracts for the purchase of the houses they bought. They didn’t do comparative house searches or watch informative property programmes on how to get reasonable mortgages.
Financial advisers were happy to lead these gullible women to invest huge proportions of their savings into mortgages that could not realistically be paid off before these women retired. Some were sold interest-only mortgages, which basically meant they were renting the property and these poor women didn’t know. They had huge house-warming parties and sent pictures of their new houses to all their relatives around the world, showing that they had finally ‘made it’.
Fast forward to the present day and many of these women have started retiring only to find out that they made very bad investments many years ago. I know a lady whose house was repossessed within months of her retirement because she could not keep up with her mortgage payment.
Many of these women had also been persuaded to re-mortgage the houses whenever they needed extra cash. This meant that they had taken off whatever little profit they could have made from the sale of such houses. Many women bought the houses during the property boom and now that the value of most of the houses has fallen back to their normal level, these women owe banks even more money than most people.
I am not sure I’ve explained the whole sorry mess properly, but the message here is that women need to learn to pay attention to financial matters, political issues, changes in laws and anything that is on the on the news or in newspapers. There is more to life than home videos, soaps and music shows. I’d watch comedies and soaps all day if I could but being ignorant is not an option so I make a conscious effort to keep myself informed of all that concerns me.
There is a reason why there is so much information in the media. It is so that people can be made aware of things going on. Now that we are in the internet age it is even easier to access information when we need it. Social media like Facebook and Instagram have their merits, but vital financial, political, local and world news dissemination is not one of them. There are credible news sources all around us; we just need to invest time in accessing them.
Men pretend they enjoy reading newspapers and financial magazines. They don’t. They only read them because they know that they need the information on those pages when they enter into financial and legal transactions. Now you know why some men seem to watch CNN all day long. It now more important than ever for women to pay attention to all these details because one never knows when one will have to make big financial and life-changing decisions.
Even decisions as to which countries are safe to go on holiday can are only made wisely if one is aware of the state of affairs in other countries, like buying a seriously cheap holiday to Sharm el sheikh in Egypt without realising that terrorists killed many tourists there last year.
You want to be able to impact your life and your family for the better? Be better informed!
Writer – Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listening to her musings on everything.