How to cushion yourself financially
By Sara Okuoro | March 2nd 2021
At the start of 2020, no one would have predicted that it would a be a year where plans and dreams would be dashed away by a global pandemic. The negative economic impact of the pandemic saw many businesses close down while others struggled to stay afloat, people lost their jobs, and many plans had to be shelved by most of us.
2021 presents us with an opportunity to start again with COVID-19 pandemic being in our midst.
Simon Ndung’u, the Head of Retail at Family Bank, shares some tips on how to cushion yourself financially.
1. Restructure your expenses and debt
Losing your income while still having debts to pay at the end of the month is a tough position to be in, and this was the case for most individuals and businesses in the country.
First, it is important to re-adjust your budget and get rid of unnecessary expenditure until your fortunes change. Operate within your means.
Not all debt is bad. Good debt is money owed for things that help build wealth or increase income over time. School fees loans, mortgages or a business loan are some of the good ones. Individuals and businesses who were servicing loans with various financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya, had their loans restructured or/and extended during this pandemic.
In 2021, strive to pay off debt and create good credit standing for further borrowing to grow your business as the economy opens up.
2. Set up an emergency fund
If you do not already have an emergency fund,start by setting up one that is easily accessible. You never know when you might have an emergency or lose your income, and Covid-19 has been the perfect example of why everyone needs emergency savings.
Ideally, emergency savings should be equivalent to up to three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
This fund can be built up over time through allocation from your monthly income by placing a monthly standing order to your account or even from bonuses.
Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving. This is will require some discipline and consistency as you embark on it.
3. Diversify your investment portfolio
The year 2020 stressed on the importance of diversifying your investment portfolio, which is critical in building long-term wealth.
The stock market in Kenya experienced volatility especially due to the negative economic effect of COVID-19. When the first case of Corona was reported in the country the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) 20 index dropped more than 5 per cent causing the NSE to halt trading.
Those who had only invested in the stock market experienced great losses. Having a diversified portfolio means your money is invested in different types of assets, like fixed deposits, treasury bills, bonds or even money markets, rather than putting it all in one place. This balance reduces your overall risk.
4. Create passive income streams
Due to the uncertainty, brought about by this pandemic, we have been prompted to seek income from different streams, especially during this era where use of technology is on the rise.
With layoffs and pay cuts always right around the corner, it is hard to rely on a 9-5 job for your entire livelihood. Multiple streams of income provide financial security. Passive income does often require upfront work to earn an income. For example, writing an e-book or building and monetizing a blog.
On the other hand, some passive income strategies may take some work to get up and running but they could eventually earn you money like property and stocks.
As warren Buffet once said; Never depend on a single income, make investment to create a second source.
5. Budget and live within your means
Budgeting is the root system of your financial tree. It provides a blueprint to follow when it comes to finances. This also goes hand in hand with living below your means.
This does not necessarily mean restricting yourself of what you enjoy from life. It means striking a balance between needs and wants and by following a financial plan.
If you have to take risks only take a calculated risk which you have a fall back plan. Never test the depth of the river with both feet.
Dr Pesa, Simon Ndung’u, is the Chief Retail Banking Officer at Family Bank.
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