As a finance major, I appreciate debt financing and how it has grown over the years. But I am not a professor and I surely do not want to bore you with information you can freely find on the internet.
So why am I here talking about debt?
(image from Google)
Well, just last week, a newspaper had this story about the corporate world in Uganda drowning in debt and the more I delved into the article the more I understood that we have such a vast misconception of debt and we probably look at it like the enemy when it’s primary function is to help you jump to the other side. That being said, I also understand where we are coming from. I’m here to just give you some insight on how to manage debt because every one seems to hound whoever has a loan from somewhere that people might just slit their throats at this point because of all the finger pointing.
So now you owe a bank or a friend or some money lender with an impossible name and no office some money. It could be 100,000/-, it could be 20 million shillings, it could be more.
I don’t know…whatever it is, you are not going to die. Accept the situation however precarious it might seem. You, my friend are in debt and accepting it is a crucial step in managing this debt.
So you have some instalments to pay weekly, monthly-whatever the arrangement is.
Please note, that paying off your debt aggressively should be your top priority. Before you think about that dress, that chocolate pizza, that Blankets and wine ticket, that girls’ night- make your instalment payment first. Not only is it courteous and shows that you are a professional individual who is responsible, it also keeps your credit score with whoever is rating in a good place. Trust me, you will need a good score later when you want to make some major investments but lack the financial muscle and for those who choose to borrow from friends, please respect your friends and pay them back. Don’t be childish.
So now you realise the bank is taking a sizeable chunk of your money every month or you have to pay your friend back and that instalment literally makes your wallet bleed. You are low on savings.
Well, I’d like to let you know that you should grow up and make better financial decisions. First things first-get a policy. There are so many insurance companies left right and centre jumping in people’s necks to invest in some great policies. So you basically have a standing order every month to have your contribution deducted. This, I think is the best thing for people in the corporate world. Look at it like a tax. That’s money you literally never touch. So imagine after 10 years when your investment has been doubled and you can afford the finer things in life. Get that standing order already and save. Also do your homework before you invest your money.
So the policy is working great, you’re sure the future babies will get that great education. However as bright and sunny as the future looks right now, you’re barely scraping by. You need more money to live comfortably but the outflow of money from your account for what now looks like statutory taxes is killing your vibe.
Well, how about a minimalist approach. Sit down and figure out what you need and who you need. You waste 100,000/- entertaining people you barely like. Stop that. You think retail therapy is a thing. Every time you get mad or feel low, a new pair of shoes sorts that out. That is all social conditioning thanks to TV and Instagram and all those people that skew reality in such beautiful pictures. The reality however, is you cannot afford these things yet. Read up on minimalist living-believe me- it makes all the sense. I’m not asking you to deny yourself a few treats here and there but be mindful of how you spend your very little spendable income. You can do so many fun things without spending a gazillion shillings. You can ask your friends to contribute to stuff you all get to do together and if they really are your people they shouldn’t have an issue with that. You could stop being over anxious about watching movies in the cinema and just have a movie night at your house. No one has ever died from missing the cinema experience of a blockbuster or whichever movie has people on E! beaming with exaggerated excitement.
Now, you really need more money. Seriously.
I suggest you get a side gig.
Side gigs should be things that come to you naturally. You use the least effort but somehow only you, do it perfectly. These side gigs shouldn’t be high capital intensive projects because that just defeats the purpose. You could write or paint or sculpt or make some attractive crafts or make up or whatever it is you’re good at, and make some insane money off of it. When you get that money, you need to make a budget and in fact if you can also save 70% of that money- the better.
Stop getting flustered over money. Get over yourself for once and understand that if you do not go to Blankets and wine or eat at that great new restaurant, you will not die. Seriously, I think death is like the extreme consequence in this life so I might as well use it over and over again. Calm down already and realise that it all comes to an end. Be comfortable and firm when you say you cannot afford something. It’s not a sin. You will afford it some day.
So you’re in your 20s or 30s….or 40s and you’re in debt. Better keep that health in check.
As I have already told you, the minimalist approach to things will create some space in your life for you to restructure. So you will also have some more time on your hands to meditate, to eat better because instead of that KFC bucket you have some fruit and some vegetables and that is excellent for your health. You drink water instead of that 5k Splash and your body is thanking you for it. You walk the distance instead of using that boda. Believe it or not, the last thing you need is spending your billable hours in a clinic where insurance doesn’t pay for half the tests and medication. Also it’s highly unlikely that you will work on getting yourself in a better place if you do not feel great.
Alexa Von Tobel in her TEDtalk said that the American millenials do not care about debt because they know everyone is in debt so there is nothing special about it. That mentality is what our parents beat us for when we were little. In Uganda, its called the “So when your friends jump off a cliff, you’ll do it too?” lecture. Please understand that you being in debt and your neighbour being in debt are two completely different things. It is your burden and you must take care of your obligations. Just because everyone else isn’t paying doesn’t mean you should do the same. The repercussions are something else and everyone takes hard hits differently. You don’t want to compare those kind of notes.
You’re doing a great job at work- you get a promotion
Yay you…and we aren’t speaking dry promotions here. You are in a different tax bracket now and the increment is material. Well, you were living just fine before that increment so why not pretend that you are earning your old salary. Pretence may not be your strong suit so maybe another investment policy of a much higher amount than your first policy could suffice. Live a little obviously but be mindful. No need to pop bottles in the club if deep inside you’d prefer a nice celebratory dinner at the Bistro. Make yourself happier every day besides- you just got promoted.
One day, it will be your last payment and hopefully you’ll have learnt from experience how to handle the next loan you decide to get later in life. It’s a beautiful lesson on money plus you just might be a better person from the whole experience- like when you finally leave school.
Like I said, calm down- it’s just debt. You will come out of it alive.
Stay gold. Stay hydrated