Is there a more vivid illustration of When it rains, it pours than when you get broke? Your car insurance expires around the same time your monthly postpaid call and data subscription ends. Now you have to take the bus to work and you discover something called Reverse call. The neighbour whom you share the Netflix logins with drops you a text. It’s time to renew the subscription. Is this Netflix thing really worth it? You ask yourself. But how else will you watch those documentaries you love? And is that not the reason you subscribed to Zuku Home Fibre in the first place? This reminds you. The Zuku Home Fibre bill is due in three days. It’s always due around the same time as the rent. And the water bill. And the gym membership.
Your wife is not doing any better. Her salary has been delayed, again. She sends you a grocery and supplies shopping list. And a footnote with a reminder that her chama contribution is due. You have never seen the essence of this chama thing. You two engage in your usual monthly fight about it. You complain that the chama is a waste of time and money and all the women do is gossip about each other’s husbands. She reminds you of how the chama paid for your mother’s surgery three years ago and tells you to suck it. Now you have an angry wife. And an empty fridge. An angry wife can do lots of senseless things. Like boiling Githeri using cooking gas. It’s her kitchen, after all, she says. Now there’s no cooking gas. You cannot even warm your Githeri using the microwave because your tokenometer (Is that what it’s called?) is beeping like a broken record. Didn’t you top up this thing just the other day? Aki Kenya Power ni wezi!
Your son’s school is taking them to Mombasa for a school trip and they think ten thousand shillings is a fair deal for it. Your son wants half of that as pocket money for the trip. Back in the village, it’s chaos everywhere. Locusts have invaded the potatoes and cabbages destroying most of the produce. Floods have swept away whatever the locusts couldn’t finish. One of the cows has given birth and needs tonnes of agro medicine. The sheep you have been fattening for Christmas have contracted some disease and need a vet immediately. Your elder brother has been arrested by the cops for the third time this year. They want some chai or else he will go to court this time. Your twenty-year-old sister is pregnant and the person she claims is responsible has fled from the village. Nobody has seen nor heard from him. Her maternal clinic bills have started knocking.
You ring your friends and ask them for a quick loan, a decision you regret immediately after. They bore you with a list of their problems and tell you how much better you are doing. They console you with ‘Lakini kuna deal fulani nangoja iivane. Nitakushtua’. Meanwhile, KCB Mpesa, Tala and Branch are spamming your inbox every two hours. Pay up, you poor fella, before I unleash the dogs on you, they say. They are using big words like Skiptrace and Auctioneering to scare you off.
You wonder why you have such friends. Why you are always in this cycle of destitute despite busting your ass off every day. You have a decent job. Your business is doing favourably well. Yet, you have no grip over your bills. The truth of the matter is that you are financially illiterate. In as much as we hate to admit it, many of us have no financial discipline and practise very unhealthy financial lifestyles. We are one paycheck away from abject poverty. We are one medical emergency away from permanent impoverishment. Luckily for you and me, there is a ladder out of this hole. Based somewhere in Abu Dhabi, is a Kenyan financial literacy advocate who has made it her life’s mission to change this narrative. Sheila Mmboga has created a program called The Financial Wellness Centre. She hosts monthly Financial Wellness Classes on Whatsapp to train people on how to become better money managers. She also hosts digital monthly workshops for budding entrepreneurs like you and me.
An Economics and Statistics graduate from Kenyatta University, Sheila’s vision is is to inspire Africa and the world to embrace financial education both at an individual, societal and business level through easy, flexible and accessible digital channels. On this Madaraka Day, what better freedom to celebrate than financial freedom? Let’s make (and keep) some money, shall we?
You can connect with Sheila via the channels below:
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