Generosity can become a poisoned chalice
By Anthony Ngatia
No man is an island. We all get assisted financially at some point in life.
It may be to settle some obligations or even for personal development projects such as setting up a business.
It is good and a necessary aspect of social co-existence in human beings, the social beings.
A good financial assistance can give you an opportunity to increase your personal wealth. An example is the assistance given to you to enroll for a masters degree that could lead to doubling of your salary once you are through.
However, we should be wary that charity extended to us does not turn into a poisoned chalice such that instead of assisting us overcome a one-off financial hundle, we get hooked to it, forever.
It was Sir Francis Bacon who warned about dependence: "If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master."
A story is told of a Mr Paul who went through a missionary school right from primary school to high school.
Afterwards, he got a sponsor who took care of his university education.
However, five years down the line, Paul was still in financial quagmire, always expecting a "financial boost" from his overseas benefactor.
Paul is an example of thousands of people who can be termed as "financially dependent".
Alfred Watiti, a personal finance expert warns that many more people are getting hooked on dependence on others even for mundane financial problems, which does not augur well for their personal finance lives.
"Financial dependence is now a common phenomenon in most people, yet they do not realise how detrimental it can be if entertained for long as it actually becomes counterproductive," he says.
He cites the growing number of pensioners who despite having some skills and reasonable income are increasingly stretching their arms to children, relatives and friends for financial assistance to meet even such mundane financial obligations.
To people swimming in this murky world of dependence on some people for whatever financial obligation, he has a pointed message: "Once you realise you are in it, the sooner the better you cut loose the financial ties that bind you together with your benefactors, completely weaning yourself off from their financial charity," he says.
The benefactors could be friends, children, parents, relatives or missionaries who routinely shoulder your financial responsibilities such as paying school fees for your children, medical bills and just about any financial obligation.
Experts warn of the dangers of "too much financial –dependence" that continues indefinitely as it is a pointer to a serious money disorder.
The benefactors or the so-called "financial enablers" often give money to their beneficiaries ostensibly to ‘assist’ but psychologists warn it may as well be out of satisfying self-altruistic needs.
Personal finance experts say that entertaining financial dependency leads to the recipient losing their self esteem, independence and ambition to succeed in life.
They do not like to take risks and strike out on their own. Eventually, these situations can precipate a crisis once the financial assistance tap runs dry.
Financially dependent individuals feel an exalted sense of entitlement to financial assistance.
But what happens is that most people receive help so often from others and seldom do they realise that this generosity may be affecting them negatively by making them financially dependent.
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