Friday, May 17, 2013

Making Versus Sustaining a Living

The free dictionary defines sustain as "to maintain, or to keep."
So, what's spurred this article today? Well, #TheGraduateDiaries and to answer some of the questions a few people have asked me about my writing- I figured why not get on with it?
So, in the last entry of the series I talked about some mysteries of adulthood and shared that most people have no idea of what career they want to pursue until they are well into their late twenties. I also asked if we could remedy the education system in Kenya.
Most professionals have been going on about changing the system- and it has raised some questions because whenever a "commission of inquiry" is set up in Kenya- nothing positive is ever delivered!

So- today I will fast forward to expenditure.

This is about those young Graduates (like me) who have a job- be it an entry level job or some opportunity that brings in cash at the end of a certain period.

So, how do you make do with the money you earn?

One of the greatest challenges the youth face regards employment is investment. Yes- employment and investment go together. It's like coffee and a good book for me. So, how come the two go together and what does all this mean?

If you are reading this and you or someone you know is earning say between 10,000 and 30,000- ask yourself how much of that money is saved?

If you earn 20,000 shillings every month- live in a house where your rent is 8,000; spend a monthly fare of 4,000; pay taxes worth say 1,000 (this is assuming you have no Government loan to repay e.g. HELB) ; food for a whole month at 2500; fuel at 1300, electricity at 1000, water bill 1000..... blah blah blah

And I have forgotten - the GTWF Bill (Good Times with Friends)- this is where most people spend money going out and drinking to pay day.
And when you sober up- you are broke and have 30 more days to another GTWF day!

Saving is important because when you set aside some money- you are guaranteed of meeting any emergencies that might arise- and if your contract ends you have something to fall back on as you look for something else.

Now-most young people live on "tomorrow is uncertain, we have now" -that they become reckless. #TheGraduateDiaries found out that some young people do make a living but their habits do not sustain that living such that though they are employed- they are still dependent on their parents and guardians-thus weighing down the minority of those who have established a long term career path- and this is not easily captured by statisticians.

How can this change?
Simply put- read the tiny print when opening a bank account- this is the part always titled "terms and conditions."
If a bank says your savings will earn 12% per annum- do the math, that means you earn only 1% per month- so if you save 1,000/= in January come the first day of February it will be 1,010/= and if you add another 1000/= it keeps going on up- with hopes of you say earning an interest of not more 700/=.

This amount of course varies with the bank and their monthly charges- ledgers fees and all that. So, seek a bank that does not have a very high monthly fee- and low ledgers fees- and if you want to withdraw money always use the ATM because it saves you 80/= and above if you'd have withdrawn over the counter.

It is good when you earn money for hard work done- but it is better when you not only live withing your means, but invest in yourself- this might mean you do not party hard and splash money- but that you constantly refine your skills and expertise say by attending workshops or training, or going back to school- but the fact that you set aside a quarter of your earnings every month- means that you are well into sustaining yourself.

Having taken this detour- next on we will get back to whether the education system can be changed, and if so how can this be achieved?