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Home / Money

You don't have to be mean to yourself to save. We help you find the balance

 Photo: Courtesy

We are taught to save money from when we are young. To enhance this, there are many sayings that encourage people to save for a rainy day. It is a good habit to nurture and at the end of the day, your savings come in handy, especially when you unexpectedly lose a job or you have a major project you are undertaking.

This saving culture, however, gets into some people's heads and can become toxic. Their attitude towards their savings will shock you. "I don't think there is anything that can make me 'interfere' with my savings," one woman confided recently. Who or what is she then saving for?

She reminded me of a widow in the village, while I was growing up, who had stacked her savings in a thin mattress that she slept on. One day, she was taken ill and when the people taking her to hospital asked if she had any money to hire a vehicle as she was obviously weak, she swore that she did not have a cent.

They somehow took her to hospital but she never made it. When her room was being cleaned for her final ceremony, neat Sh10, 20 and 50 notes were found arranged in the mattress. When the money was summed up, it was Sh20,000, a tidy sum then that could have bought her a high density mattress, presentable clothes, shoes and decent meals. After her burial, the money was shared out among her four children.

These two women present a worrying trend. There are those who save and are happy to read a swelling bank statement while leading a miserable life. Despite the fat bank accounts, they will complain about how broke they are every time you meet them. They will not buy you even a cup of tea. Do you realise you have such friends that every time you meet you are the one who pays the bill? They need a lesson on why people save money.

You must save with a plan in mind; not just saving because everyone else is saving. It is criminal to deny yourself even a decent pair of shoes because you are 'saving'. When will you enjoy your sweat?

There has been this trending formula on social media about human beings, donkeys and working like slaves. It goes something like; work + eat + sleep = donkey. Work + eat + sleep + enjoy = human being. Therefore, if savings removes 'enjoy' from this formula, there is no difference between you and a donkey.

Today, you must sit back and ask yourself many questions; why do you save money? What is the point of denying yourself a few life's luxuries just because you want your savings account to grow into millions?

Life is not forever, you are here for a season and you should learn to appreciate it. Do not make your children feel like paupers yet their mother has a lot of money stashed in the bank.

Why we save

· To rescue us when we are stranded...for example, if you fall ill or a family member needs treatment. Even if insurance takes care of the hospital bill, you will need money to run up and down when you have a patient. It should also sustain you in case you lose your regular income until you are back on your feet again.

· For investments. As you save, you obviously have something in mind about what you want to do with your money. As you nurture your savings towards your ultimate plan, you can make the money earn more by putting it in other projects such as securities, land or business. Land, for instance, will give you more money even if you sell it a few days after buying.

· For that dream holiday. That exotic place you visualized yourself visiting when you were young is realizable through savings.

· For retirement. Indeed you need some income when you are no longer able to work.

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