Buchi’s Story: Experiences Instead of Material Items

Meet Buchi, a self-employed bookkeeper who lives and works in San Francisco.

What do you do?

I’m disabled and I’m self-employed with bookkeeping. I do that on the side. It’s been good for these last 9-12 years.

What did your upbringing teach you about finances?

(laughs) Well, to manage money responsibly. Here in the US, I had to learn that. Growing up in Nigeria, where mommy and daddy took care of your expenses, when you need something, they’ll get it for you. Getting to the U.S., I had to learn how to take care of me, myself, and I.

What have been your lowest and highest financial point?

At my lowest, the recession hit and I fell hard. I had to work my way out of debt and that’s how I learned how to manage my finances. I’m in a much better spot now.

I would say my highest was getting out of debt in 2012 and just surviving off of what I could afford. No credit cards, nothing. Now, if I can’t afford it, I have to let it go. I learned to concentrate on my needs rather than my wants.

What’s your advice to people looking to get out of debt?

Take out a piece of paper, write down how much all your outings cost, and be honest with yourself. What is a need and what is a want? Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start being proactive about your situation.

What’s the best piece of financial advice you’ve received?

The best advice I received is save, save, save, save – no matter how little. It counts. Every nickel, every penny. Always have savings in the back of your mind.

What’s one thing you know about money now that you wish you knew when you were younger?

One thing I know now is that it’s always better to do a one sum payment than to pay monthly. When you pay all at once, you know you’ve paid for it all. If you save, you’ll be able to afford those big items.

What are your goals for the future?

I still want to still be able to travel and see the world. I’ve come to live my life and spend my money on experiences rather than material items. I want to visit Italy, walk around, and try the seafood. I’d rather have money to have those experiences than spend it on a Louis Vuitton handbag.

What does money mean to you in your life?

To be honest, I have two definitions: one from my upbringing, and the one I have now.

Growing up, I associated money with power and respect.

Since moving to the U.S., money has become a piece a paper and nothing more. It just brings you to the next point in life.

What are some savings goals of yours?

A goal of mine is to be able to keep getting by and have some money to be able to afford rent in San Francisco. I’d also like to be able to take care of myself because I have a surgery coming up. Lastly, I want to be able to pay off one of my high-interest credit cards.

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