Not failure but low aim is sin – Benjamin Way, an American Baptist minister
BY DAVID ONJILI
The year 2019 is rolling; most Kenyans are trapped in their usual financial cycle of robbing Peter to pay Paul. This has been evidenced by Safaricom’s latest product Fuliza. According to his own admission, CEO Bob Collymore noted that in the first week of its launch, they had netted in close to one million subscribers and lent out Sh1 billion. Those figures are mind-boggling but paint a clear picture of most Kenyans debt riddled lives.
This column has always appreciated debt in the strong belief that there exists good and bad debt. It is what you do with the debt that counts, if you accrue it to purchase luxuries then that’s wrong but using debt to increase assets and cash flow streams is fine.
Below is a simple guide and reminder of certain best practices that we can use into the new year.
Draw up a budget
How can you even be financially free without a budget? While many individuals mentally have theirs, it is rewarding to draw up one and have it somewhere where you can see it and follow up on it. For couples with or without children, it pays to involve the whole family. Let everybody be part and parcel of its drawing and they should e held accountable to its implementation. That way everybody acts as the other’s keeper.
A traditional budget will have household bills taking a major percentage of it. Over time, the budget will be able to show which household bills are taking up a huge percentage of the budget and why. Learning good shopping habits is also key, like trading brand names when purchasing products. Once you know that two similar products, be they toiletries, serve the same purpose and that the price difference is just due to brand prestige, you can use your budget to avoid this trap.
Track your expenditure
While most budgets drawn are monthly because many Kenyans live on salaries, others may draw weekly budgets to suit their income streams. But, tracking your expenditure on a daily basis is a key component of financial literacy. Spend some ten minutes each evening reviewing how you spend your money on a daily basis. This will show you the bad habits like the confectioneries and coffee you purchase that may ultimately be indulgences.
The daily tracking of your budget will assist in reviewing your spending habits. Shutting out what is bad and embracing better financial habits like carrying packed lunch or snacks. This helps you save money on a weekly basis and also helps you to eat healthy and not what is convenient.
With budgeting in place and following it up you can now set aside a savings goal and include it in the budget. That family trip or vacation can be planned well in advance through a budget and financed without unnecessary hiccups and constraints. Putting aside a few thousand shilling over a period of time within your budget is far much easier than throwing one single lump sum to cater for a holiday.
A good budget will have a provision for emergency and savings; these come in handy when emergencies like sickness, accidents or death occur.
The Internet has provided very good budgeting tools like budget planners. Simply download and fill them out. There are also apps like the Safaricom app, which has a Safaricom Lock account. Here you can save money over a period of time without being able to withdraw. There are also online challenges like the 52 week challenge where you can enter with reliable friends for accountability and save for a holiday or down payment for that car, piece of land or even wedding.
Pay up debts
To those deep in debts especially with the influx of predatory mobile money lending platforms there is hope. Being in debt is never a problem, acknowledging and making steps out of it is key. Your budget can have a provision to pay up this debt, use the savings to start paying the debt and above all learn to live within your means. Approach the lending institutions and draw a plan to repay this debt then honour it.