Do you know just how much you owe? : Evewoman - The Standard
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Managing Your Money

Do you know just how much you owe?

Piling bills: Photo; Courtesy

There was a picture circulating on social media with the most hilarious caption I have read in recent times: A loan default's roof being carried away in Kisii County.

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A group of men are carting off an iron sheet roof in some village setting and they seem like they are doing the norm.

This kind of scenario should serve as a reminder that such things happen and you should put your financial house in order now.

If you have ever defaulted in servicing a loan, you know what embarrassment this can bring upon you.

December as the last month of the year brings forth some agonizing stories about what those who failed to pay their loans go through. Forget debt collectors; the local chamas are the most merciless. And each year they come up with more severe and punitive punishment.

That is why you should take a loan only when it is absolutely necessary. Also, it is foolhardy to borrow money just because all your friends have or the personal bankers have 'sold' their products to you in your office.

If your repayment schedule is monthly, you must be disciplined enough to keep it up-to-date. But when you know you are the type of person who cannot honour such commitment, then do not even attempt to walk down that path.

August is a good month to assess how you are servicing your loans – whether from a friend or bank. Sit down one evening this week and go through your books. How many loans do you have? How do you service them? Are there some you have fallen back on repayment? By how much?

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Well, if you have fallen off track, then immediately come up with a plan to keep to the repayment agreement. Iron out issues that made you delay or fall back.

For bank loans, go and renegotiate your payment plan. People understand when it is challenging to honour your responsibilities and together you can come up with a friendlier repayment schedule.

Friends and family, talk about it too and openly discuss the issues that have made you delay in giving back the money.

But most chamas have no window of review. When the interest percentage is say 10, you will be made to pay interest on the interest that you did not pay in time. For example, if you were to pay Sh2,200 at the end of the month but don't, you will repay Sh2,220, - that is inclusive of interest on the Sh200 interest. Therefore, if anything, just don't default on chama loans. You will be the loser as they are inflexible.

Always, give the chama loan priority. If things are not working, squeeze money from some of the following:

• Do not use your car for a month. Try car pooling or public transport. It won't lower your dignity or reduce your standing before your friends. It is a discomfort you will go through for a short time while knowing that something good will come out of it. This small sacrifice is better than facing the wrath of chama members in December when they come for their money.

• Check your kitchen budget. For many households, this is where the bulk of income goes. Sausages twice a week for breakfast? Reduce to just once. And so with eggs and other luxuries that you can do without until you are financially stable.

• Cut down on a few other luxuries such as that expensive ice-cream you 'traditionally' lick thrice a week.

• Look for work outside your usual station. The allowances you get can boost you greatly.

• Reduce your phone usage – calls and data are some of the avenues through which most women lose money without knowing. Make use of the SMS which is much friendly to the pocket.

• Don't make unnecessary trips which leave your pocket sour. Always ask yourself if that trip is really necessary before you embark on it.

In short, do your best in the remaining months before you find yourself in the December mess.

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