Activist Frank Gashumba recently rapped the spending habits of the youths of today, one of his posts made sense to me.
If you are a person who moves around most of the nightspots in Kampala, you will realise that the saving culture among today’s youth is dead.
If alive, it is in critical condition!
But who is to blame?
I think, just like the saying ‘Charity Begins At Home’, even saving begins from home and therefore home is to blame.
Having lost both parents at a young age, I found myself growing up in the hands of my uncles and aunts.
But surprisingly this later turned out as a blessing in disguise. Not that I wasn’t missing my parents. I was, just like any other person, more so when you are never to utter the words; mummy and daddy for the rest of your life.
But with time I got over it and moved on.
The blessing was that I got all I wanted, actually more than what an ordinary child would get from one’s parents.
To be precise, I have never taken myself as an orphan and never looked towards government for any help in-spite of my dad having been a high ranking officer in the current army and in the former governments.
The other and the most important is that all of my uncles and aunts were employed in different fields.
Each played a bigger role in my upbringing, using skills from one’s field of life.
Among my uncles, one was employed with URA, another was a lawyer, one was managing an international bank in the country and the other was into farming.
Among my aunts; two were shop attendants, two doctors while the other two were into education, one heading Education & Sports of a certain district in the country while the other headed the same in a certain division in Kampala.[related_posts]
But in spite the difference in their guidance, I realized the only thing that was chorused by all was SAVING and GOOD SPENDING habits.
My point of focus and for this case is the guidance of my uncle, a bank manager, since he is the person who put in lots of efforts in pushing me in this direction and he is the person where I draw my biggest inspirational from.
“Afunah you are broke. I understand we are all broke but your case is worse,” a colleague had that to say during one of our discussions.
And this wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t related in any way to the topic being discussed at the time, and he went on to emphasize it.
However, he was right in his judgment! I am not a person you’ll find dressed in designer clothes. Neither do I spend on booze when in hangout spots like him and most youths.
Why? Simply because I was guided against such rights from childhood.
The first test I got from the banker in regard to saving was being handed a week’s transport from school.
By then I was schooling from Old Kampala and we were staying in Kasubi, a journey then costing Shs 300.
Meanwhile I only needed transport for only return journey since he would drop me to school in the morning as he continued to his work station.
I was handed 10k for the first time and this was used up in a week.
Most of it went to snacks from the school canteen. With it, I was no longer interested in snacks packed from home.
“Was the money I gave enough for a week?” he asked and I responded in affirmative.
I was given 20k in the following week and still it was used up in a week!
“Uncle I don’t have transport for this week,” I reminded him at the beginning of the following week.
“What happened to the one I gave you last Monday?” he asked.
I told him it had been used up. “The other week I gave you 10k and you told me it had been enough…….surely can 20k serve the same purpose as 10k?” he asked in a low tone.
“Are you being responsible if you are using it that way? Money should always be respected because it doesn’t come that easily.
“Haven’t you ever passed students in your school’s uniform walking to school? Do you think they fancy walking to boarding a taxi.
They too would wish to board a taxi but it is because they are trying to save or they don’t have money to pay for the fare. So you become responsible and think like a smart kid,” he advised me.
His advice was followed with inspiration books like; Gifted Hands, Think Big, All of the Rich Dad Poor Dad books, Africa’s Past Present & Future. All these were to be read and summarised in a time frame set by him.
On top of these he added a daily routine of listening to Donald Trump’s show, The Apprentice and still I had to summarise whatever I heard/learnt.
From these together with his daily advice, I learnt that all successful people are ones who have respect for money and a saving culture.
After my O’level, I was in boarding, and just like any other student, I had enough stocking from home ranging from scholastic material to eats. But on top of these, came another test to find out whether I had learnt anything from the books, words of wisdom and shows.
He gave me 200k as up keep and told me the only call I should make home to be calling them to pick me for holidays or when sick.
The normal school term had two visiting days but would bring just eats.
But perhaps to his surprise, I never called home seeking for more upkeep.
The following term he pushed it to 250k but even the others would pass-by school. “What do use all the money I give?” he asked during one of the holidays.
I told him I would spend some while I saved the rest.
“Keeping money somewhere can never make it grow. Not even banks do. It is high time you started investing.”
But by then I had already started investing it in agriculture but he wasn’t aware. It was the first time he was hearing about it.
I had invested in ginger and g-nuts but the returns were not that good.
He asked for a business proposal so he could top up my capital. I did but as a person who is in a business world, he found it not viable and instead advised me to scan around and come up with another venture.
“The good thing is that you are getting all this information while still young. Had I got the same, by now I would have even quit the work I am doing to concentrate on business.”
And the truth in all this, he practiced all that he preached. In his 30s, and a manager of a top global bank in the country, he wasn’t ashamed of driving daily to his workplace in a car that everyone didn’t think matched his status.
He drove a corolla for over 5 years and it was the only of its kind that was found in their parking.
“Uncle when are you buying a new car…..doesn’t this embarrass you?”
I asked during one of our chats.
By then he was constructing three different residential houses in the neighbouring place.
“I will buy when the right time comes. It is not the biggest priority at the moment. I need to finish those houses.”
Meanwhile, I started up another venture without his knowledge but this time it is moving in the direction. I am only waiting for the time of expansion to inform him about it.
The schools of today should perhaps start teaching students of today about saving and good spending habits as a separate course since parents of today rarely find time to attend to their children.
They should know that life is not all about swag (current language) booze, fancy cars, staying in plushy rented apartments but preparing for the future.