The 7 Biggest Money Problems Most Kenyans Have


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Building wealth isn’t just about making money these days, it has become more of a requirement if you want to retire at some point in your life, afford to take your kids to college, afford good healthcare and more. Since building wealth is so important for our future, why is it that most people still find themselves under a heap of debt or retiring broke and unhappy? For those who make it, it isn’t through sheer luck. Certainly, in life, there are some elements of luck at play but the majority of the results in life are attributable to the decisions you make and money-related choices are no different.

We live in a country that does not really cover us – Welfare. They try, but always falling short due to one thing or another – more like corruption. Many Kenyans believe that building wealth is part of a dream for a select few. They believe hard work is a given but seizing opportunities is for those who can afford to buy them. Such is the state of things for many who have given up on themselves and now look up to politicians to change their ‘luck’. However, they fail to realize that only those who dear to create their own ‘luck’ can lead successful, healthy and wealthy lives.

The Biggest Money Problems

Here are the seven biggest money problems and mistakes that most Kenyans have, and if you can avoid making these mistakes you’re on the right track towards financial freedom.

1. Spending Before You Earn

We all want to be like everyone else – ‘normal’. It is the best way to fit in and be accepted by a wider group of people. That’s why we find ourselves buying, spending, purchasing and owning constantly, thinking that it is the best way to live.

Wrong! The best way to live is spending less than you earn. If you want to have an extravagant lifestyle, increase your income. You don’t need to go out spend money on the latest iPhone because everyone else is doing it. If you do so, then you are in serious trouble as you are trying to momentarily appease your thirst for wholeness.

2. Failing to Save For Retirement

So much for retiring at 40, 55 or is it 65? At what age really do you want to retire.

You can actually retire whenever you want as long as you have your spending habits in check – that’s financial freedom. Many Kenyans think that retirement is a long way but what many do not realize is that the further away your retirement age is the better for you. Saving early for retirement will save you a lot of headaches when your retirement approaches as you can save less for more time.

3. Failing to Take Debt Seriously

Debt nowadays seems as a prerequisite of modern life. Many Kenyans seek to sustain their superfluous lifestyle through acquiring debt. A hell of a lot of it!

Debt is a serious thing. It is mainly driven by our mindset – the deep desire to acquire extra bells and whistles to what we own.  By the time you realize the bad choices you have made and that you have the rest of your life to deal with the choices, it might be too late. Debt might be already haunting.

4. Failing to Start Early

Very few 20-somethings ever think about retirement. We live in a society where many young people already have a lot on their plate i.e. trying to find a job and some way of sustenance, which is understandable.

When we are young, we think that we have all the time in the world – which may be true but doesn’t mean that we waste the time that we have. You see, compound interest works best when you put your money to work as early as possible. Without time, the value of interest is diminished.

Here is a tip for you: There is never a specific good time to start saving, so start now. Don’t wait until you get a better job or your business starts racking in millions, or even when you settle down.

A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save is when you have some – Joe Moore.

6. Failing to Set Goals

Most people never take the time to outline their financial goals or goals in general.  They choose to keep mental notes that they will save more, invest more, spend less, get out of debt or even stop borrowing. You need to be specific and concrete with your intentions. Without putting your plans on paper, and tracking the progress, you may never get there. You are merely like a boat adrift at sea moving with the current.

Seeing your plans written down has a powerful effect on the brain which is constantly kept conscious of what needs to be done. So instead of saying I will have an emergency fund by the end of this year, be more specific and say: I will set aside KES. 1M for my emergency fund in 12 months. From here, now set a plan to achieve this by saving KES. 84,000 per month. This way, you can keep track every month and when you fall short, you can find ways to make up for the difference in time.

Without a specific financial goal in place, it is difficult to know where you are and how you are doing. For instance, just telling yourself to save for retirement, won’t cut it. You might find yourself at retirement without any savings or not having enough savings to live on.

Here is a tip for you: Have specific financial goals written down with actionable plans (use the SMART method).

7. Failing to Maintain A Will

We never cease to hear stories of families fighting for wealth and secret families cropping up from nowhere. These shenanigans should be a thing of the past.

Kenyan’s should seek to live differently. Plan your life and leave the rest to God. You will find that life becomes a lot easier and your blood pressure stable when you eliminate your loose ends.

Don’t Make The Same Mistake

I hope now you won’t make some of these mistakes and make better decisions with your money. However, if you are facing any of these, do not be discouraged. We’ve all been there, myself included.

Meanwhile, You can click on the following links to read more about financial planning: 

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Irene Makanga
Irene has an MBA in Finance and is an avid businesswoman, passionate about financial literacy.


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