MONEY MATTERS: Chamas, saving and spending


You will come to know what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make.


Its money-matters week :), and it’s about time I bet. This week I’m having a look at chamas most specifically merry-go-round chamas. What is a chama? These can either be investment groups or saving groups (chama is just the local name used) Merry-go-round chamas are the saving group type and currently, I am in two such groups. How does a merry-go-round chama work? Simple, you come together with a number of people, set an amount of money that will be payable to an elected treasurer and take turns receiving the money. For example, say I am in a chama of 6people and we all agree to give 2,000ksh per month. I will receive 10,000 ksh from the other 5 twice in a year.

So, recently my turn to receive my savings back arrived and I must confess I was at a loss what to do with the extra money. I jotted down a list and this helped me narrow down my options. Hopefully, it might help you too.


And no, I don’t mean drink yourself silly, or buy yourself that cake or throw a party just-because! No! I mean use your money to improve your marketability. Take a class, a short course, anything that can increase your knowledge on something you care about. Buy relevant books and sign up for any new workshops that may help you be more marketable in your area of interest.


Your parents or guardians have supported you day in day out and sometimes its great to spend a considerable amount of money to show them honor and gratitude. You could buy them something they have been in dire need of but haven’t got around to buying it, pay for some medical check-ups, send them off to a weekend holiday or pay for a few months gym membership fee. Whatever tickles your fancy will be sure to be worth it once you hear that heartfelt thank you. At the end of the day, love is the highest valued currency, so you get much more than you give.


Kenyans generally love to invest in assets because of their low-maintenance nature. However, I believe an income generating venture is far better placed to assist in day-to-day situations. Extra income comes in handy especially in unexpected events. You could invest in retail, small-scale farming (ideal for the weekend) and any type of business you are skilled at.


Assets range from company shares to some land in Machakos. We invest in assets mainly with the hope/projection of their value increasing with time. This means, you buy and wait. This venture is for long-term investors so don’t jump in if you are not willing to wait a while.

Other assets however depreciate in value with time like cars or cell phones. However, if these assets ease your other operations then they can be a key investment.

Other assets are also income-generating. For example, if you acquire a pregnant cow, not only will you get a calf (an extra asset) you will also have the opportunity to get milk from it. Investing in assets just depends on your background research, your goals and what you are willing to risk.


Depending on your goals, you could proceed to throw your chama money into a savings account towards a greater goal. For example, if you are looking to buy a wedding dress at say 100,000ksh (sorry I have no idea what the rate is) and your wedding is nowhere in sight, you should start now 🙂 🙂 🙂

Are you curious which option I picked? Well, since I am a middle child, I occasionally need to grab my parents’ attention, so I went with number 2. Which one would you pick?


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