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The subtle art of saving

By King Kaka | November 7th 2018

I read an interesting fact recently: “When you’re young, you have all the time and energy but no money; when you’re old, you have all the money but no energy and mostly no time”.

It got me thinking and I noticed that when you’re older, there’s a savings factor. The reality is we have to secure our future, and this includes our next bloodline.

The word savings is a very easy term to throw around, but very difficult to act on it.

I personally struggled with it in my early years, but I was taught differently, which is why I maintain that my first business lecturer was my mother.

She had a small-scale fruits business and she’d always insist that she had to be careful with how she spent her money and how she saved.

She loved the term ‘hand to mouth’, and that’s how she categorised her business. So how did she manage to take three boys to school, pay rent and feed the family?

I noticed a pattern with her. She’d come a with her day’s income and in a small book she always carried around, she wrote down what went back to the business, and there was a distinct line with the profit.

And then she’d take part of the profit and put it aside. At some point I asked her what that was for, and she said she was saving for the business. Her business was not stable; the probability of city council officers shutting it down any time was very high.

Practical experience

You know when it’s explained, it’s just a theory, but one day I witnessed the importance of saving.

My mother came home with a 24-hour demolition notice, but we all thought it was a hoax. However, the following day, after she’d just set up with fresh stock from the market, council authorities came and demolished all the business in the area. And with these guys, there was no room for appeal.

So that evening, she came home and told us what had happened, but she didn’t look shocked.

Two days later, she moved her business to the Machakos bus terminus in Nairobi. She paid for the space, the new structure and a council licence.

I asked her how come the transition was that quick, and she pointed out that she’d been planning for such a day with all that money she’d been putting aside.

When I went into music and business, I adopted her lessons. We’re living in some tough economic times, and we’ve seen big companies collapse. In the midst of this, most employees end up depressed because they didn’t have a savings/emergency plan.

Huge problem

But saving requires a very high level of discipline, especially if you’re self-employed/an entrepreneur.

In the beginning, I had a huge problem: I’d save and then reach a point where I’d take the money out to spend on unnecessary purchases, and then save again and spend it. 

With time, I noticed that I’m not alone; there’s a large number of young and old entrepreneurs struggling with saving.

The advantage of employment is that it’s mandatory for companies to help their employees save for retirement. In their latter years, they’re entitled to claim this cash. The Government and their employer have made sure that they save. Most entrepreneurs don’t have this kind of accountability.

Let me let you in on how I do it. From all the income that I get, I’ve broken it down into percentages. For instance, let’s say I get Sh100,000 today.

There’s a percentage that goes back to the business that brought the money – it’s good sense to invest more where you’ve seen a conversion. This way, you secure the source.

And then there’s an entertainment percentage – remember that saying about all work and no play? You have to treat yourself and your loved ones.

And then there’s the savings percentage. This is the tricky bit, so I put it in a secure lock system that’s hard to access.

And that’s why I call saving an art, the same way we see ninjas going to see old monks to learn new fighting skills and different virtues. The art of patience, the art of forgiveness, the art of endurance. We need to learn the art saving.

The writer is an award-winning artiste, entrepreneur and brand ambassador.

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