Have you been running away from yourself? Maybe the best gift you can give yourself as we approach a new year is to face the man in the mirror. To paraphrase the song, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, we need to start with the man in the mirror, ask him to change his ways, if your want to make your world a better place, look at yourself and make that change. It’s time to stop running. If you feel like you have been going round circles, it is probably because you avoid facing things head on. And when we do that we hope somebody else will come up with a solution to cover up all the issues we don’t want to face. We avoid facing our financial habits head on but hope our employer will pay us more, the bank will give us a loan and if everything fails, we’ll blame the children. There’s a time I used to go to the ATM and refuse to take a receipt. I just did not want to deal with the balance, what hasn’t been paid, what will bounce because I withdrew money etc. When we run away from dealing with things, from changing ourselves, it’s like trying to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa but at the same time avoid all the routes, turns, police checks, which will actually get us to Mombasa. We can’t simply expect somebody will come and whisk us away. We have to go through them. So what can you do this coming year to face the man in the mirror (Click to Tweet this thought) with your finances so that those resolutions you set actually have a chance of happening.
- Get intimate with that bank account balance.
Most people are not aware at any given time what amount of money they have or don’t have. Maybe you are doing what I used to do with ATM receipts. Thankfully because of technology some banks these days do not hesitate to tell you what this amount is via SMS or email you immediately after a transaction. Don’t run away from this knowledge at all times. The most important thing is not just looking at the balance but generally knowing what you are going to do with the money. This is more than just the monthly budget that you save on your excel sheet. It is as intentional as possible knowing your money on a day-to-day basis. And on that same note, you should also get to know your payslip. Look at it. What is gross, what is deducted (taxes, loans, pension), what gets paid into your account? Far too many people think about their salary as only what gets credited into the bank account.
- Come to terms with your debts.
How much do you owe the banks, Sacco’s, credit cards, mobile money loans, relatives, friends etc.? Mombasa may keep shifting if you do not want to face this. Many people think they have an idea of what they must owe because they’ve been paying it down. For example if you borrowed Kshs 100,000 and have been paying Kshs 10, 000 per month, you may think that after ten months you will be at least close to paying it off. However in the initial stages of a loan most of your repayment goes towards interest so this may not necessarily be the case. People do get a rude shock when they print the statement and look at their mortgage balance, credit card statement or car loan. You probably still owe a lot more than you think.
- Have the money conversation with your significant other or relevant family member. (Click to Tweet this thought)
Money is one of the key reasons for marital conflict. The problem is not going to solve itself by avoiding the conversation. If you’ve been married long enough you know that this tension will show up elsewhere. Timing and how things are said is very important, but avoiding dealing with financial issues is never good for any relationship.
- Be courageous enough to face the investment avenues that make you feel good but are actually not working.(Click to Tweet this thought)
We feel good saving here and there, having a policy, contributing to a Chama or just putting money in some investment hoping it will work. Is it working? Yes or No. Either fix it or exit it. Far too many of us are in Chama’s because they make us feel like we are progressing but truth be told money may be better of elsewhere or in another Chama with other dynamics. If you are not willing to do the hard work of making your Chama run as it should, leave it. Same goes for other investments we may be in.
- Everybody wants to make more money.
Nobody ever wants to sit down and actually figure out how. This is why we play victim and blame our employers, families, government etc. I’m not saying along the way things do not happen that are out of your control. However we always have to go back to what we are going to do about it. You want to earn more? What is your plan? Is there something you are going to do on Saturday morning to earn more money? Is there a new strategy in your business leading to new clients? No point declaring on New Years how much you will save or invest if you don’t have an action plan behind it. You want your salary to be increased. What are you actually going to do at work to justify that increase?
- Define what you want and what changes are needed from you to get there?
Not from the rest of the world, from you. Many people limit themselves by thinking the change they need is more money. That if they had more money everything would be OK. But to even get this money there are some things you need to do different or maybe some attributes about yourself that you need to question. Do you need to spend time differently? Instead of watching TV that much perhaps read or take a course. (Click to Tweet this thought) Do you need to socialize differently? Do you need to be more organized or patient. What from you (not money) is required?
To learn more about how to use your money as a tool to reach the heights and goals that you had only imagined, click here to learn more about the Centonomy Personal Finance program, Centonomy 101! Ready to register? Click here!
Waceke Nduati-Omanga runs programs on Personal Finance Management, Entrepreneurship and Career Success.