Reviewer: Professor J. U. J. Onwumere
This book, ably written by Sir Paschal I. P. Okolie (JP), FCNA, FCTI, D. FIPFM (London), makes an interesting reading. It is a compendium, as aptly titled, of his memoirs on financial literacy, deriving from a series of inputs he made on radio programmes anchored by Mrs. Ngozi Eboh of Coal City FM, Enugu, and Charity Nwododo of Enugu State Broadcasting Service.
The book is structured into 12 chapters covering (1) Money management skills (2) Savings and investments (3) Cash investment opportunities as means of ensuring financial security in a dwindling economy (4) Tips on increasing one’s sources of income (5) The attitude of an entrepreneur (6) Accounting information (7) Decision-making in business (8) Goodwill in business (9) Tips for New Year planning (10) Christmas and charity (11) Nigeria at 58: advice to the youth, and (12) Economic rehabilitation through entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
In all these chapters, the author strives to highlight the significance of being literate in money and financial matters for survival and growth by individuals, organizations and, inadvertently, though silently implied, by governments and allied institutions. The book is analytical and advisory, simplifying financial matters in the process.
Money is critical to any activity. In fact, there is hardly any activity in which money does not play a role — directly, indirectly or tangentially. Money and financial resources have, therefore, to be managed (and well managed).
The starting point is to have a good understanding of money. The author anchors discussion of money management skills on the saying that “the greatest problem facing man is being able to conceive an idea because once you conceive the idea and honestly believe in it, you must likely achieve it”. Yes, it is through dreams that we have visions, no matter the type, but positive visions are the author’s preference.
Essential ingredients of money management skills identified by the author include: ability to dream (visioning), goal and target setting, planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring/adjustment.
For those already employed or doing business or engaged in any legal activity, the savings habit must be inculcated and applied. Saving is part of one’s income set aside after provisioning for disposables. It is the net income most often used for investment or in part for emergencies (generally for use in future). The book lays emphasis on acquisition of savings skills in order to invest and earn more income. Though investment is important, its two types are critically discernable, viz: investment on consumption and investment on productive ventures (assets). There is even investment on liabilities.
The benefits of financial security which are emphasized in the book are enormous. Financial security is defined by the author as entailing “the state of having peace of mind resulting from the feeling that one’s income would be enough to cover one’s expenses. It happens more when one has enough money in savings and investments to cover emergences and other emerging and future financial needs”.
The author provides a number of principles to be adhered to in order to be secured financially.
In view of increasing instability in our economic and social environment, it has become imperative that one’s income sources should be diversified. The author provides 14 tips on how this can be achieved. Tips are also provided on how to cut or trim down expenses, unnecessary and avoidable expenses.
This book is a wonderful piece in advocacy.
It advocates engagement in legitimate enterprises and ventures in order to be financially viable and secure. The issue of legitimacy in making money is more apt today than ever before. By the way, one may ask, what is meant by legitimate venture? My layman’s definition of legitimacy has to do with legality. Legitimate enterprise, therefore, is one recognized as legal by the constitution of the country. Activities of performers or undertakers are not offensive to other people’s sensibilities and do not contravene the laws of the land. To a large extent, such activities are morally based. I know that some ventures may be legitimate without being moral. We must, however, strive at all times to ensure that legality and morality are on the same page of goodness. Though these border on semantics and also on morality, the point here is that the author advocates engagement in legal concerns or activities.
Our national economy today is in a precarious state, though attempts are being made to diversify it away from oil and create opportunities for the wellbeing of all. Still, the majority of the citizens are poor, living below $1 (one United States of America dollar) per day. The level of dependence on those meaningfully engaged in activities is equally high. The precarious situation we are in today creates challenges and opportunities. This book provides the critical financial knowledge to propel one into tapping from the emerging opportunities.
Those already engaged in industry, private and public sectors of the economy should be conscious of goodwill. Incidentally, in life, goodwill derives largely from one’s reputation and brand. Everybody has a brand. One’s brand can be that of a positive achiever, a good person creating goodwill that opens doors. At the same time, the brand could be such that is detrimental to goodwill and good conscience. Stealing, notwithstanding whatever coloration it is given, bribery etc. create bad brands. The book emphasizes goodwill in business and all activities.
All in all, why this book? Why the book? I recommend it to all in private and public life; in fact to anybody who sees money or feels money or touches money or uses money. What major takeaways can guide us in deciding to have a copy of this book? These include having perspective in understanding the following:
• Money and its functional relations in the affairs of men
• Personal visioning
• Budgeting (personal, organizational and state budgeting)
• Savings: Why we must inculcate the habit of saving, no matter how little
• Financial security: Why its quest is necessary for one’s survival and growth
• Investment opportunities: Where to go and how
• Debt financing – how to exploit existing opportunities (private and public debts)
• Managing one’s expectations (dangers of credit purchasing, spending for self-aggrandizement, etc.)
• Entrepreneurship and its ramifications. We have to be entrepreneurs one way or the other
• The need to diversify one’s income sources and how
• Accounting information and its necessity. Small business survival with or without certified accountants
• How to take decisions and manage businesses
• The very necessity of goodwill in activities – private and public
• Planning for one’s survival, pre-retirement from private or public service
• Seasonal celebrations and their implications
• The youths, acquisition of entrepreneurship skills and engagement in entrepreneurship activities
• Business social responsibility
• Giving to charity
• Surviving in turbulent and volatile socio-economic environment
The author deserves commendation by all of us, more so when one considers his enormous responsibilities as the Accountant-General of Enugu and that he still carves out time to contribute to society in other ways.
We recall that it was Francis Bacon who wrote (bearing in mind the educated and the intellectual environment) that while conference maketh a ready man, writing maketh a complete man.
The book and its author (this ‘complete man’) must be appreciated and supported.
––Onwumere is a professor of banking/finance and economic development, University of Nigeria, Enugu campus.