For many freshly employed graduates, receiving the first salary is one of the most exciting moments. If you are anything like me, it was more money than you had ever received at one go. I recall all the excitement I had, all the things I ever wanted to buy started coming to me in day dreams. This can be a defining moment, especially if you want to make any financial strides. So what steps can a graduate take to ensure sober personal finance management?
1) WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING
Before you start spending, write down all your obligations, needs and wants. Do so without any reservations. Just think of all your daydreams and all the things you are required to do and jot them down. Remember, even the faintest ink is better than the sharpest memory.
2) CLASSIFY THE ITEMS ON THE LIST
Put a big ‘O’ alongside any obligations, an ‘N’ alongside needs and a ‘W’ alongside wants. Put the different categories in their own lists then classify further by indicating if an item is urgent, important or time-bound. Do the important things first. This helps in prioritizing and setting time goals to the task and also ensures you get almost everything you want.
Take for example repaying a loan and paying rent. They are both in the obligation category, but a loan seems urgent but can be done in small installments over a period of time. Rent on the other hand is Important and has a time limit.
3) DIVIDE YOUR SALARY INTO PERCENTAGES
This for sure is the best way of making the most of your money. I always believe that this lesson was taught by God himself when he instructed us to pay 10% tithe to his work. This already makes us view money in terms of percentage.
As a rule your rent should not exceed 30% of your total income. You can include that in the 50% fixed costs such as transport, gym membership, phone bills or even tithe. Whatever it is you have to pay every month.
The other 50% can be divided into several other categories. I have mine in three major ones; financial goals, moral obligations and guilt-free spending.
- Financial goals
This money goes to improve your current financial portfolio. You can save, invest or start a revenue-generating activity. Saving can be done in many ways; opening a savings account or joining a merry-go-round chama. This always works if you have an end goal in mind such as a good holiday, buying a new item or even furthering your education.
Starting a revenue-generating activity is also a smart move. If it is not time intensive, it can be a great boost to your financial portfolio.
Investing is one of my favorite ways of meeting financial goals. I and my business partner started the AFRICA MONEY MARKET INVESTMENT GALA (http://africamoneymarket.co.ke/) held bi-annually for the sole reason of learning how to invest our money. [And I was still a student then]. There are several ways of investing. You can join or form an investment group. These groups are taking over Kenya, buying land, constructing buildings, farming together. As long as you have a common goal, trust and transparency, you can only grow with such a group. You can also take the lone ranger route, invest in shares or open an investment account. This is a long-term investment. Don’t be carried by the waves and don’t be quick to run when things get bad. If need be get professional advise. A great investment bank I have encountered is STANLIB (http://www.stanlib.com/Kenya/Documents/Brochures/Brochure.pdf).
- Moral Obligations
Harambee! This is our Kenyan culture. The culture of gathering together and contributing towards a cause. Yes! Planning for everything is important. What happens when our friends or family suddenly get faced with a calamity? Or that good friend of ours puts us in their wedding committee? Or we have to bail out your brother from a fix.
Planning a certain percentage ensures that we don’t exceed our limit and leave ourselves broke in the process of helping others. And in case that month is Harambee free, save it for next time!
- Guilt-free Spending
Some schools of thought believe frugality to be the path to financial freedom. I believe financial freedom is making the most of what you have now! When you work hard, you want to taste the fruits of your labor. You should set aside money for things you love to do and do them. You are an architect, six years in school and endless work hours, YOU DESERVE IT! This is a very important category to have because not only does it release your feel good hormones and motivate you to work for more but also makes you happy with your lifestyle. Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
So, there you are, steps that I follow to effectively enjoy the fruits of my labor. Which steps do you take? I would love to hear about them on the comments below, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s this month’s Money matter and hope you get on the track to financial freedom! And this week just for fun check out this video, it will have you in stitches! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uloc1iW-pgc