Building a room of my own with help along the way from from Virginia, Morgan, and the others

Oluseyi Akinyode
5 min readApr 30, 2023
From Left to right, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel, and the personal budgeting app, YNAB

My first acquaintance with English writer, Virginia Woolf, was in the film, The Hours by Stephen Daldry. Some of my favorite actors were in it — Merryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Eileen Atkins, and Ed Harris. So I just had to watch it! I would come to know Nicole Kidman through her award-winning portrayal of the writer.

I had heard the phrase, A Room of One’s Own, bandied about since middle school in Nigeria but I did not make the connection with Virginia until much later. Nicole Kidman’s breathtakingly haunting performance made me curious about the writer and so I decided to take a close look at her body of work starting with A Room of One’s Own.

If you can get past Virginia’s circuitous stream of consciousness, the core argument of the book is the need for women writers to have a room of their own. By “room”, she refers to an income that gives women the space and freedom to think and become. In real terms, a source of independent cashflow they can rely on for their sustenance. It is an ideal worth striving for for all women.

As Virginia declares, “Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time.”

The words, “freedom”, “material things”, and “poor” lead us to that other word... Money. So, what exactly is money? In Economics 101, we learn that money has four functions. As a unit of account, a medium of exchange, a standard of deferred payment, and a store of wealth. Increasingly, I have become fascinated with that fourth function. Let’s return to it later.

I used to think about money primarily in terms of its roles as a unit of account and a medium of exchange. As something to get, to hustle for in the grind. So that I can spend it. Now don’t me wrong, I am not saying there is anything wrong with spending money. After all, how do we procure the things we need for our daily sustenance?

But the danger in this attitude, which, unfortunately, many of us in the black community are often susceptible is that it does not allow us to engage with the other dimensions of money. In fact, many of us end up being trapped in its third function, as a form of deferred payment. Here’s looking at you, credit cards!

For many black people, we have had to endure so much and overcome so many obstacles in our path to success. So the only way we know to celebrate our journey and battles won is to spend that money. If we don’t, how else do we mark our progress or signal to others that we have made it? If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Right?

However, there is another dimension to money that we need to begin to engage with. This is its role as a store of wealth. The goal of money, in the wise words of the personal finance guru, JL Collins, “…is not to spend but to earn...”. Take a moment and let that sink in! The goal of money is to earn and not to spend. Money not spent is money we allow to work for us producing other money in the form of interest, dividends, and income that continue to procreate others. This is what Warren Buffet calls the eighth wonder of the world.

Money is a very strange thing I must say. I have yet to fully grasp its nature. However, one thing I can say from experience is that if you treat it with respect, it will protect you. Money can also allow you to stick to your ethics and values. So I guess that is a fifth and sixth function that they don’t talk about in schools.

One of the highest virtues of money is the freedom it provides, especially, the freedom of time. In the words of Morgan Housel, “the ability to do what you want, when you want, with you want, for as long as you want…”. One of the best ways to get onto this path is to Mind the Gap as Paula Pant advocates.

What does it mean to “Mind the Gap”? Simply, budget your expenses, endeavor to increase your income, which for many of us is our salary, and spend less than what you make so that you can put the difference to work and diversify your sources of income so you rely less and less on those W2s.

I have found the personal budgeting app, YNAB (You need a budget to be a game changer in this respect. I am not going to discuss what it means to invest. That is a topic for another day. In fact, it's best left to the experts.

There is so much of life that I want to engage with. Experiences that I want to immerse myself in. Places I would like to travel to and people to meet. Don’t You? Let's be real though. These things take money to make happen.

So I will keep at it, laying down brick by brick to build a room of my own so that I can get closer to freedom in all its forms: health, mental, financial, material, intellectual, and spiritual. Who knows, one day, I may help someone else build a room of their own.

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Oluseyi Akinyode

Omo Naija | follower of Jesus | Kdrama fanatic | film & art lover | coffee addict | product enthusiast | getting lost to find myself