My cousin, a senior officer in the army, recently called and asked whether I wanted him to buy me some alcoholic drinks from the officers' mess. Not one to say No to such a rare offer, I gave him a list of drinks I wanted.
Then he told me how much each costs. I was okay with the price and gave him a go-ahead. However, he said he could only buy after I sent him money as he did not have cash on him. He even claimed he had just a few cents on his mobile phone.
Somehow, I felt offended. The last time we had such 'deals' he would buy and then I pay him on delivery. This time round, he was adamant; cash before buying.
I sent him the money via mobile phone. The more I thought about this incident, the less angry I became and the more enlightened I turned out.
I realized for a long time, I have bought people 'small' items, say onions of Sh50 or bananas for Sh30 but once I deliver the goods, I am never paid. Since the money is 'too little' I am even ashamed to ask for it. But if you add these amounts, you will be shocked at how much your generosity totals at the end of the month, money you will never recover.
To stop this kind of exploitation starts with you and your attitude towards money.
Start looking at every coin you have as vital in building the blocks of your success.
See your money as a business.
In business, there are no favors to siblings, friends or any other relative. Make it clear that they must pay for goods before delivery. This is because credit is known to collapse start-ups and even big businesses.
When these friends and relatives who want to receive without paying for it go to the market, they do not ask for credit, but just pay for what they have selected and go away. Why should it be different when it is you?
In fact, if you offer to pick a few items for some people, just add a little cost to compensate yourself. So for every item bought, you must add a small fee for going out of your way to do this for them. If a piece of cabbage goes for Sh30, add at least Sh5 per piece for your time and effort. This is 'clean' money, and earning from your hard work.
We can blame human nature that loves freebies for this. However, when you know this, you must protect yourself. Insist that you are paid before you are left with the burden of feeding your family and others.
Look at it this way, if you pick items of about Sh100 per day for your friends but their response is just "thank you", at the end of the month this will translate to about Sh3,000. Yet this money can easily boost your savings or use it to buy that lotion that has given you sleepless nights.
At the end of the day, it is these 'small moneys' that become big and enable you to grow big too. Value the money.
Later, my cousin explained that he had in the past bought friends and relatives drinks from the Mess only for them not to pay up as promised. He ended up having his salary deducted to pay the huge debt he incurred.
He learnt his lesson then and made it his policy to have cash before buying a drink or anything else for someone. Using your money in the hope that you will be repaid, can easily backfire, he says.
A little wiser now, he gladly shares his lesson, which I also pass on to you, my dear readers.