A couple of days ago, a friend baptized me “dollar girl”, so I might as well do a piece on this once and for all. They say money won’t buy you happiness, think again because they went shopping at the wrong stores. Money is good. The lack of it is what makes people evil, thugs, murderers, and jerks. Ask yourself, why did they continuously drill into you that education is the key to success? The hypothesis that when you get schooled, then you have options, to be an entrepreneur or get a good job, to be financially independent. Isn’t that a good thing? I mean, which parent wants to raise their kids to be beneficiaries for the rest of their lives? Even so, don’t you have ambitions, dreams, aspirations that do not revolve around your folks or family entitlement if you’re lucky to be born rich? Most people if not all have brains, but only some fraction of it makes use of it.

Which brings me to our spending habits. Take a closer look around your house, don’t go too far. Start with your bedroom or closet. How many things do you have stored in there that you barely use? Ladies, I’m talking handbags, shoes, dresses, make-up. One of my favorite women the author of Girl Boss, Sophia put it very well; money looks better in the bank account than on your feet. I know, we love shoes, I love shoes too, give her the right pair in the right inch and she can conquer the world, right? But how often do you feel the urge to buy stuff that you don’t necessarily need at that particular moment just because it looks good? Are you the type who is guilty of impulse buying and then when you get home, you realize, you needed to do some house shopping? Like seriously, hire a personal finance consultant if you have to, or start by having a monthly budget and sticking to it.

Quit the comparison with your peers. Just because everyone is getting a new car doesn’t mean you have to, take a bus until you can afford to buy one. More importantly, if you can get one in cash rather than on loan, the better. You won’t die if you used public means, you will die earlier if you take on an image and keep up with a reputation you can’t afford. I see people taking loans to have their supposed “dream wedding”, the Kenyan media does a good job, the likes of Samantha Bridal and Wedding shows make every girl crave for her big day with unrealistic financial demands. I’m not married yet, and just in case you’re wondering when that will happen, let me just say that it’s frankly none of your business, neither is it an end goal. HARSH, right? I know….but some people need to hear that. So you put yourself in a quagmire of debt repayment for something which you can avoid by going to the AG and get your paperwork done.

Let’s talk about debt because you have at some point found yourself borrowing money for personal use or business. There is a rule of thumb when it comes to debt and that is, do not borrow unnecessary money for something that can wait or be avoided. Debt is good if put in business to propel growth or increase productivity. It is bad when you borrow for consumption, it is even worse if you borrow from institutions or shylocks who charge you an interest on every penny. The best thing is to live within your means and if you really have to borrow, do it from your inner circle, your family and friends because those will least likely put an interest rate on their lending. However, because I learned time value of money, I will charge you an interest rate if you come knocking on my door. Have the habit of clearing your debts on time and in the shortest time possible because the thought of owing people money cripples you.

I had an interesting conversation with my girlfriends this past weekend. It was about identifying your needs, wants and knowing the difference. Agnes Mutua is actually a consultant in personal finance and I am eternally grateful to have her in my inner circle. For some of her publications, visit her blog on this link (agnesmukulu.blogspot.co.ke). She gave me a tip that I will pass down to my future generations if God blesses me with kids (rolling my eyes)….anyways if you have the urge to buy something, you know the impulse buying kind of thing, give yourself 24hours, ask yourself if you really need it or want it. It’s not a bad thing if you want it, but it only makes sense to make a purchase only when you need it especially if you’re running on a tight budget, which is highly likely. Have the courtesy to go shopping with a list, the discipline to only get what you intended to get in the first place.

On savings, start today with what you have. Nothing is too little if it goes into savings, we all have rainy days, family emergencies or a vacation you’ve been looking forward to. If you’re the person who saves after spending, switch that up. If it’s too difficult for you and you have a regular source of income from your boss, ask your bank to give you a standing order. That means every time your salary checks in, a percentage of it is immediately deducted and put in your savings account, that way, you can comfortably live on the rest without thinking too much about where your money went. If you’re an entrepreneur or self-employed and you’ve had a good day or month from business, save a higher percentage than your previous one because you don’t know how long it will take to have that kind of day. That way, you mature financially, you are in control of your income, not a slave of your earnings. Treat money as a tool to get what you want from life, I hope note this serves you right.

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