Y’all are the richest 21,22 and 23-year-olds I have ever met. Buying luxurious apartments in Kitusuru, driving your other Mercedes Benz because the other one doesn’t match your outfit today, owning multi-millionaire businesses…Kwani mko wash wash na hamtuambii?
The rest of us might just start wondering why don’t we have a house? Where is my Mercedes Benz now that I have been waiting for this godforsaken matatu to fill up?
I mean, it’s all very inspiring and amazing to see young people attaining financial independence but man I just want to be a monkey in the forest eating fruits instead of constantly thinking of how to make money. Do not get me wrong. I want to make money. The pressure however can sometimes drain the life out of me.
You know sometimes you are just minding your own business and your budget, proud of your progress but other times you just want to live like everyone else. Go to Hemingways Watamu with the squad this weekend, fly back to Nairobi early enough so that you don’t miss your best friend’s birthday at Radisson Blu. You want to go to Local Grill and enjoy their famous steak, Karel T Lounge for the ambiance, Inti Nikkei just so that Instagram knows wewe ndio mambo yote. You can’t bear the thought of not going out every Friday and missing out on the fun. You just want it all. It’s natural and quite okay to want these and more. It is okay to own a car at 19 or to own houses in every part of town. It is more than okay to dream of living luxuriously and glamourously because suffering tulisema tumewachia ‘Suffering Servant’ wa Bible.
The problem however comes in when you ask yourself at what cost are you taking just so that you can live a certain kind of way? If your means sit right with you, then go you! Unfortunately, some of us are going to extremes that are damaging to ourselves and the people around us just so that we can fit in. Stressing your parents to provide more than they can afford, constantly taking loans that you know repaying will be a hustle, constantly doing weekly harambees from friend to friend just so that you can make Reels on IG of your fancy getaway in Naivasha with your girls.
I know it sucks missing out on all those parties. I know how hard it is to be the broke friend or being the friend who always says no. I also know that there are friends who might pressure you to go for this and that dressed in all white. I get it. You don’t want to be the lost sheep so you will live off loans like Kenya. At the end of the day financial anxiety, stress and regrets kick in and become your reality because you either used up all your money or Tala wants nothing to do with you because of all the unpaid debt. So again I will ask, is it all worth it? It could be avoided right? All you and I have to do is to live within our means. Know when to leave the party. At least we can try to put our financial houses in order. In my few years of getting carried away into spending as if I’m the only rightful heir of Buckingham Palace, I can admit that getting your finances sorted out goes a long way into reducing all these financial pressures that ultimately take a toll on your mental health.
You can start by finding a reason as to why you want to start managing your finances. Is it to facilitate your lifelong dream to watch the best football team (Chelsea) play live? (Come bite me if Chelsea isn’t the best). Is it to be able to buy land in the next 5 years? Is it just to have enough money in your bank account? Is it to retire at 30 and travel throughout Africa? Once you know what your reason is, it makes it easier for you to know that you can only buy Hennessy once a decade because it’s not a priority but taking your cat for a trip to Maasai Mara to see other cats is, so you will direct your savings towards this trip. Do you feel me? At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge people who do not resonate with the saving culture. That’s them. But who are you?
Secondly, try to know where you stand. Track your spending versus your income. If you only have sh5 then make your expenses less than that. Get yourself a patiko for sh2, no need for a pinpop worth sh10. No need to go to that fancy restaurant if the rest of the month you will be sleeping in a manger. (Then again, if that restaurant is a priority and you don’t mind sleeping in a manger, iko nini? Go!) Here is where you need to communicate with your friends that this is what you can or can’t afford or you’ll end up broke as they end up in their 10 million dollar home estate. Friends, be a bit more considerate as well and read the room because it’s not always that your friend will be confident enough to say they can’t afford something. They want to fit in. Pick an affordable restaurant to them. Understand them when they can’t afford to get you a Louis Vuitton bag for your birthday.
Lastly, choose a budgeting method that works for you. You’ve probably heard this more than you have heard the Gospel but it is important to plan for your money. It’s harder for spontaneous people and people who are invested in living day by day, but you can always find a way to work around it. You can try reverse budgets where you don’t have to decide what you will spend for each category instead you decide how much to save upfront. There’s also the 50 30 20 budgeting rule where you break your net income into 3 parts i.e 50%- essentials/needs, 30%- wants/personal desires, and 20% on savings/investments. There are apps and so many financial institutions that are willing to help you deal with financial pressure- grow your money, save it and even track your spending. I particularly love how the Centonomy Campus Edition program helps you come up with a personalized budget and spending tracker.
I love how I am beginning to see budgeting as a pleasant thing and not like another math class. I can still go out and have fun with a budget. I don’t have to miss out. A few years ago if you would have told me you’re budgeting I’d automatically think you must be a very miserable person. How do you not buy ice cream because of a budget? Tragic! But now I can even have wine on a budget. Well, maybe not 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc but isn’t 4th Street still wine? Grapes ni grapes ama?
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