There is a quote I have been looking for many weeks now. It speaks of acting in the light of knowledge that you gain. In other words, if I had a habit of watching movies on my laptop in the dark (I did this a lot in college) and then I find out that doing so is harmful to my eyes, then I should stop watching movies on my laptop in the dark. Because I have found new and correct knowledge. Too many words. *Loud sigh* Now if only I can find that quote!
Back in college, we used to talk about how much money we would make once we got out. Or I should say it it the things we used to talk about doing that signified we would make a lot of money right out of school. How we would move out of our parent’s houses the moment we got our first jobs. I mean I know a few people who got well paying jobs right out of college but why do all college kids think we are going to get that big job before we can be handed our certificates? Unchallenged optimism may be? I don’t want to make a mockery of that optimism so all I will say is life happens. Quite differently than we expect. And I know fully well that the characteristics of the environments within which life happens is not the same for all of us. So I will speak for myself here. If my experiences are similar to yours, that’s a coincidence. And a relief. Hehe. Oh, c’mon, we all have sadistic streak.
Fast forward after college. I didn’t go looking for a job immediately. I felt that my last year of school was such a marathon and I honestly just wanted to take a break and digest the fact that I was no longer a student. Forgive me, I had the luxury of my parents’ house and the food they were putting on the table. The first job I landed after 6 months of figuring out my life was an Intern position where was paid a little less than 10k, clearly nowhere near the money I thought I would make after college, ha ha. During the time I was there, I became very aware of every shilling I earned. It’s not too hard to count a little less than 10k but you get the point. Something I never really thought about back in college when all my needs were comfortably catered for by family and friends 😉 I would spend money on something and the calculator in my head would turn wheels and tell me how much I had left and ask me how I felt about doing another purchase. Such foreign thoughts. I had a reckless habit back in college when I was about to run out of money where I would just go on ahead and spend it all just to get it over with. I mean, money was a phone call away right? My parents aren’t the kind that would gladly offer you their debit cards and key to their fueled cars just because they know the struggle of starting out. The gospel of paving the way for your kids didn’t quite reach them. I guess they figured out that a meal and a roof over one’s head should ease the struggle of trying to save a few coins here and there. So I had to make do. I mean, no rent or school fees to pay, right?
Oh, how did I survive a little less than 10k salary,sorry, stipend in this Nairobi? I had a few writing side hustles. They paid waaay better so I had to make time for them, hehe. A girl can only take that much suffering. I resigned from that job (money was like reason no.5) in the list of why. Even I believe that and it wasn’t until 4 months later that I got a job that paid me a salary that I can mention out loud. Has my life changed since my last job? Yes it has. Strangely though, it has not changed in terms of material things. I am baffled as you are that I don’t buy stuff as much as I used to back in college. I will honestly say my first job caused this change. It is so severe that I can count the number of impulse buys I have made in the last 6 months. Am a woman. Let us let that sink in for a moment. At my previous job, when I would receive my stipend, I would write down every single expense from the tithe to HELB and everything in between that I had to pay. Whatever remained used to be so little it took the joy out of spending it. And I like to splurge. If you are going to splurge, you can’t be thinking of every single coin in your pocket and/ account.
I love money and I don’t have buts about that. I love spending it and I would love to spend it without a care in the world. However, at this point in my life, all I can consistently do is love it. Spending it will come later. *Sigh* . It’s just that I am aware that I don’t have enough to splurge as I would love to yet. I am also aware that splurging is not the only thing I want to do with money. Am aware that I want to generate it be it from my salary or through other ventures. And not just any ventures, I want it to be a venture that truly changes the lives of people while fulfilling me as a person. Do I have ideas of how I want to do that? Yes I do. One is already up and running because ideas like all other perishable things, need to be acted upon now.
More often than not, it is not that we lack ideas of what to invest our money in. Most commonly, we think the money we have is too little to do much with and secondly we just lack the discipline to channel our money to useful avenues or we just don’t pay it much attention. Am sure we know people who started from near nothing and built businesses for themselves be it a mini shop or whatever, to people who managed to make their salaries do wonders for them while working the same 8 -5 job. However, these are the few ones. The majority of the people you might know or you could be one of them too are the ones who live from pay check to pay check. They ball when the salary checks in at end month and then start scaling down 3 weeks before the end of the next just because they ran out of money. In worse cases, some people with decent salaries and no demands such as family work for long periods of time and then have nothing to show for it except fancy clothes and a flashy lifestyle they can’t maintain if that salary was to be withdrawn for whatever reason.
If there’s one thing I have learned in this short period of time is money is like rain. Whether it rains small or big you have to have something to show for it. I was bothered by the fact that in spite of my minimal spending I didn’t quite manage to save a bit of my money. I don’t save money for the idea of accruing interest on it. I like to put a little away for rainy days. But I discovered that I was putting money in places I couldn’t touch such as
insurance policies and HELB repayments leaving myself with less money to take care of myself and even put it into other income generating activities! I am working to change that though 🙂
When it rains, the water can either be put into good use by those who are prepared to do so or it can run off. It’s the same with money. Besides the vicious cycle of bills and spending (constructively or wastefully) we have the choice of putting our money to good use. However, we have to be AWARE of what that good use is and be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to make it a reality. I have had incidences in the past where I couldn’t explain where my money went. May be you’ve had too. One moment you have money, more often than not a lot of it and the next second (usually after a couple of days or a few weeks) you can’t really explain what you did with it. You can usually retrace a couple thousands but mostly it’s the larger share you can’t explain. Then later on (sometimes years later) you have these brilliant ideas running through your head and then you remember that money and you feel like eating yourself up. Bang your head on the wall if you need to, fantasize about how much richer or well off you could be then forgive yourself and move on. That’s really all I can tell you.
Now, focus on the task ahead. Granted, there’s so much noise out here about what to invest in and how you should go about investing into it. I can’t tell you how to go about it. What I know is that you have to start thinking about what you need to do with your money if you haven’t already. Then focus your energy and discipline to making it a reality. Secondly, you need to put a little money away for the proverbial rainy day and now we can add the drought period. Let us face it. They WILL happen. The rainy day is basically when your turn to take blows from the universe comes and somehow your insurance cover (if you’re smart enough to have one) suddenly hits the limit and your friends can’t come through for you or you just can’t go to them. That’s what savings are for. So have some, your turn is coming. The drought? You know how we said money is like rain? Well, sometimes it just doesn’t rain. You might lose your job or your hustle might hit a curve or even you might be out it. Your savings will keep your soil well hydrated until it rains. Whatever you do, listen to me, DO NOT TAKE A LOAN to spend it on something that won’t generate money to pay the loan back. If you have to borrow money, use it to make more money. Figure out how to make money first, not how to spend it.
There’s a lot of good advice around you about how to handle your money but only if you are bothered enough to look. You can only do something if YOU WANT to and if you are prepared to pay the price WHEN you know what the price is. If you can find out all these things earlier, good for you. Don’t limit yourself to the false knowledge of age groups. That you can only start thinking about serious money issues when you are in your late 20s or 30s or even 40s. Don’t let your rain water run off just because you weren’t prepared to do something with it.
My journey to achieving the kind of financial freedom I want is in progress. It is not yet ideal. I am still recognizing what is working and what is not and making the necessary changes, read sacrifices that I need to. I am teaching myself the concept of delayed gratification and I won’t type herein and say am loving it. I am however appreciating it. I am also spotting opportunities that I can focus my energies to now that I am actively in this frame of mind. If you are already on this journey, keep going. The path will become clearer and you’ll adapt as you go. If not, kindly put your mind to the task and start. My little piece of advice that I consistently live by, TITHE FAITHFULLY my dear. Tithe like your life depends on it.