Thursday 2 May 2024

70% Ugandans survive on borrowing - FSD Uganda Study


Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

By Arthur Moses Opio

We all read that statement that was screaming on the Daily Monitor news paper on 15 April, 2024. The report is based on a study by FSD Uganda and it said, "Seven out of every 10 Ugandans were operating a personal budget deficit(needing more money to than they are earning to cover their personal budget" Now, 70% is huge. What are the 30% doing that the 70% aren’t doing? The report continued to say, "More Ugandans are relying on their family and friends, personal savings, and borrowing to manage their budget deficits than was the case in 2018."


What’s notable in this, is that Ugandan’s have personal savings and compared to 2018, 60% of Ugandans are now saving which is a good thing. In their 2017 SDG report, Afro Barometer said, "Ugandan’s saving rate was at 12% compared to Kenya(23%), Rwanda (18%) and Tanzania (13%)" Generally we have been doing badly. I need to find out what our stand is currently but an improvement of 60% should be applauded. 


But saving is not enough, it is the first step. Even if savings is up. Finscope report says, "Most Ugandans are not managing their budgets well." and failure to manage picks into things like extensive borrowing to meet a budgeting deficit as stated above. If you are lucky to have personal savings that is good, then the only worry is that you are probably eating into your wealth building tool. Savings should be categorised, emergency savings and investment savings. 


You can make and save money, but if you are having more months than money, the problem is not the income. It's your money management. We have to develop high income skills levels to enable us manage this money resource well. 

Paul Busharizi once wrote an article titled, "Perpetuating the poverty among the elite" and said, "There is the Urban legend of the manager who cannot make his salary stretch to the end of the month, while his driver who earns a fraction of his salary, not only gets to the end of the month, but has enough left over to invest in his growing empire of mizigo rentals." He further said, "The difference between the two men is that the boss is focused on consumption lifestyle while the driver is focused on investing. And that is the crux of the matter. There are only two ways to spend your money, you either “eat” it or invest it."


There is no doubt economic times are hard but we have to be smarter. Money management is a skill that we all must harness. Even if we are doing fairly well, we must keep learning to avoid slipping back. So manage whatever little  money you have well. It's a much needed skill. We are all victims of poor financial management but we can be better.


So these are some of the things the 30% are doing:

  1. They have financial goals.
  2. They have a financial plan.
  3. They have a budget.
  4. They track their expenses
  5. They live below and within their means
  6. They are investing in appreciating assets like Bonds, Treasury Bills, Fixed Deposits, Unit Trusts that offer at least 10%. They know there is a limit to how much they can cut their expenses, so they focus on increasing their means.
  7. They are involved in producing goods and services. If they aren’t directly producing, they own shares of companies that are producing goods and services.

So once again, I remind us, let us build that emergency fund. UGX 1,000,000 is a good target to begin with. In case of a challenge, you will have that as your first rescue point. It is your fire extinguisher, you need it badly, I badly need it. 


Don’t ignore the power of putting 10,000 UGX aside, if you do it for 7 days, that’s already 70,000 in your emergency pot. XENO CIS allows you to save as low as 10,000 UGX, you can dial *165*5*7# my referral code is XENO84105. 


For more information about XENO click this link.


Thursday 11 April 2024

With almost 11%, This Can Be An Alternative Source of Income


Photo by Tech Daily on Unsplash

By Arthur Moses Opio

I read something profound this week on social media. Livingstone Mukasa said, "I explained to him that 10% interest is better than 100% consumption any day, anytime."

Livingstone was talking about how, "What percentage of your money do you put to work for you?" He talked about a lady who has worked for the bank for 15 years and all she has is NSSF which will give an interest when it’s declared this year. He also talked about another person who earns 6m UGX but takes home 1.8m saying, "His Mercedes Benz C Class is about to be confiscated by the Moneylender." and that "He is now looking for a pastor to pray for him. He thinks he is cursed!"  - He isn’t cursed, he just has a money management problem not an income problem.


The statement 10% interest is better than 100% consumption was towards the man who earns 6m and "thinks one should save when they get a lump sum." - We can never have all the money, wealth is gathered little by little (Proverbs 13:11)


A friend once said, "I am paying the price of regret. It is a huge price. I remember having lots of money in my bank account. Had I at least put it in the Unit Trust, I would have enough to carry me through this rough patch."


You see when you are in a desert, the camel that’s used as your transport must be fed. If it’s not fed. It dies and so do you.  I learnt from Reno Omokri "that the camel is your future." He then stated "As you make money today, don't eat all. Feed the future. Invest money for tomorrow, or you may die before your time."


Remember, Proverbs 21:20 "The wise have wealth and luxury but fools spend whatever they get." Verse 17 of the same chapter says, "Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich."


So Why Unit Trusts?

  • Unit trusts give you a passive income
  • Unit trusts offer you risk-sensitive options
  • Unit trusts give you liquidity 
  • Unit Trusts are structured for security
  • Perks of Scale  
  • Professionally Managed
  • Tax-exempt Income
  • Flexibility 

Source (My Xeno)


I will share with you performances of two CISs/Unit Trust Funds (XENO and UAP)


XENO offers goal based investing. You can dial *165*5*7# and start investing with as low as 10,000 UGX. Through the USSD, you will just sign up because they have an MOU with MTN and this makes it easy, you don’t need an ID or Passport Photo but via web myxeno.com or APP, you need to provide those other details and within 2 days, your account will be active.





XENO invests your money in four asset classes (Bonds, Money Market Funds, Regional and Domestic Equities) as show in the picture above. The last two are volatile and because many are risk averse, a little percentage of your money is put in that asset class.  Annnual management fee is 1.5% p.a for Money Market Fund and 2.0% p.a for the Bonds.


UAP saves money in Bonds, Commercial papers, Fixed Deposits, Offshore investments, Local Stock Market. They have three funds, Money Market Fund(MMF), Umbrella Trust Fund and Balanced Fund. For the Umbrella Fund, their main objective is capital preservation and generation of consistent income with low to medium investment risk. You need a minimum of 100,000 UGX. Annual management fee is 2% p.a.


XENO Performance in the last 6 months:

  1. Feb, 29, 2024 ( MMF - 11.16% Bond - 14.79%)
  2. Jan, 31, 2024 (MMF - 11.70% Bond - 15.20%)
  3. Dec, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.51% Bond - 15.62%)
  4. Nov, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.76% Bond - 15.70%)
  5. Oct, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.93% Bond - 15.62%)
  6. Sept, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.92% Bond - 15.33%)

MMF




BONDS




  • On average, some one gets around 13% from XENO with some exposure to the volatility in regional & domestic equities.

UAP Performance in the last 6 months:

  1. Feb, 29, 2024 - 11.02%
  2. Jan, 31, 2024 - 11.21% 
  3. Dec, 31, 2023 - 11.49%
  4. Nov, 31, 2023 - 11.02%
  5. Oct, 31, 2023 - 11.24%
  6. Sept, 31, 2023 - 11.07%



  • On average someone gets 11%


There are other Funds like ICEA, Sanlam, etc. that are doing the same. These are alternative investment vehicles. 


This is low risk, so guys who are heavily involved in business will say, "ah! That money is too little for me." They are indeed right. Where the risk is high the profits are also quite high and business is one of those areas. You might be the type who says, "I can’t do business for now", but you want to participate in owning shares or lending to government - this can be a good alternative. The key is to invest for long term to benefit from compound interest.


In conclusion, in your investment portfolio, consider having Unit Trust Funds, rather than having money in your bank account where you earn 2% interest against inflation of 3.4%, you are basically earning 1.4% that means your money has lost value and you have no purchasing power. What worsens the situation is our depreciating shilling against the dollar. Keith Kalyegira once said, "When money is seated in the bank, it shows that you are not thinking." So put your money to work, that shows you are thinking. You are the commander in chief and your monies are the soldiers, you can have different battalions - battalion 1 (emergency fund - defence), battalion 2 (investments - freedom fighters).

Sunday 24 March 2024

Why is a school child taught about bank accounts but not about investment accounts? asked Alex Kakande



By Arthur Moses Opio

An apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We are the by product of our upbringing and environment. We can't go beyond what we have been exposed to. If I grew with parent's talking about money in negative ways or just always complaining about how scarce or hard it is to make or even grow - that's what I will carry with all my life.

Alex Kakande recently wrote an article about a dream he has, he started by saying, 

"I have a dream that someday Uganda will transition to an investment-centric society. For an extended period, this nation has thrived on the spirit of entrepreneurship, which is commendable."

"My dream is to witness the growth of our capital markets, not through the participation of a mere 100,000 -200,000 individuals currently in the Capital Market Space, but to grow it to 1 Million people, 5 Million plus Ugandans.

Alex further said, 


"We need to initiate a paradigm shift towards investment. If an individual aspires to open a salon, they could alternatively purchase a stake in a thriving salon instead of starting from scratch. We need to embrace an investment mindset that appreciates the merits of shared risk, injecting capital into existing businesses, and discussing annual returns."


I responded to his article in the comment section and said, "Alex you have spoken well." You have said and I quote, 


"It is sad to see people well-versed in betting, yet ignorant about buying shares of companies like MTN, Airtel, Stanbic, Bank of Baroda, Dfcu, and others. If people can risk their money in betting, why not in purchasing shares?"


The question then is what is the root cause of all this misalignment? 


Why can't people have a change of mindset?


We all have a financial blueprint and our environments have a strong bearing on how we think and interact with money. From childhood, we have been told money is evil, rich people are evil, you can't have a lot of money and be good, etc. In school we were never taught about money except about cost or buying staff but nothing to do with investment. So we don't have that in our blueprint. Someone earns money and they first thing they think of is spending, they are hooked by the "Shiny Object Syndrome." Some have the Diderot effect, it's something that disturbs them. Some want to play the status game and not the wealth game. Some keep complaining, that life just happens while a wealthy person thinks totally different and says, "I create my life."

In schools, A is still for Apple and not for Asset, B is still for Ball and not for Bonds, C is still for Car and not Capital or Compound Interest, D is still for Dog and not Dividends. With such a curriculum, what do we expect?

All this stuff is by design, our poverty is by design, our mindsets are for consumption and that's by design. The poorer the person, the easier they can be controlled, someone still says, "I want my money where I can see it." That's by design. Our parents were limited to such education, the media can't give the knowledge on Unit Trusts and Bonds the airplay they deserve. Banks that have the money for adverts continue to dominate the airspace, they are always in our faces and what comes to mind first is to have a bank account and not an investment account. 


What you and many others are doing is going to awaken everyone. 

The conversation on money is best taught by the parent at the dinner table or on the way to school because the parent will have the vested interest but parents need financial education - this financial education is key to our problems.


If the boda boda man or builder can even grasp a little bit of this, we can continue to see great take up of these products. It has to be deliberate and intentional but the miseducation is by design, unit trusts continue to take the banks customers and it's now a massive issue.


I trust as we all contribute to the space, we will continue to grow the numbers and ensure this dream is achieved. Every parent reading this article should not only have a bank account but also an investment account for themselves and their children. Monkey see monkey do, we can't preach what we don't practice.


Jaspreet Singh once said, "We can all be investors by owning a share of a company not necessarily starting one." So this speaks to what you are alluding to.

Monday 15 January 2024

Resolve To Succeed Financially: I now have knowledge I am not poor anymore said Amos Wekesa


Photo by From YouTube

 By Arthur Moses Opio

"If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already... Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing." ~ Abraham Lincoln

A friend of mine called Moses Isiagi resolved he was going to do his Masters in University of Cape Town in South Africa. With that resolve, he kept applying and one day, he tells us, I have gotten an offer, I have been accepted. 

The daunting task now was the money for fees, ticket and many other things. For him, the key thing was to get there. He talked to a few friends and some money was raised. To cut the long story short. He found his way to South Africa, studied and graduated and is now pursuing a PhD. The journey wasn't an easy one, there were so many ups and downs, tough nights, brokenness, etc. but that did not break him, instead it gave him to momentum to resilient to achieve his dream.

The above quote from Abraham Lincoln to a young man who asked how he could become a lawyer is so profound. 

"Your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing". Nothing gets going until we resolve to get started. The inner determination to say, I have what it takes to build this dream is the first step in ensuring the vision or dream gets started. 

While listening to a TikTok video with the handle @cleaningtheairwaves that has been making rounds on social media, I couldn't hold back but put this excerpt into this article as it speaks to the topic of resolve. 

The interviewee Rinah Hicks said, "It will help you so we started that journey how did you identify what do we do and he’d come we sit we talk and he would bring 2000. The first amount he bought was 5000. He used to earn part time I think when he came here, he had earned 19,000 shillings and he gave us 5000 to start his journey. He started his journey and I worked with him for four years. After four years I had grown and moved into a different department and I handed him over to a friend of mine. 2011 Richie now I am approving payments I’m now in operations and I see his a check and a request for payment and I see his name on this thing and it’s 2.4 million shillings. I called him, "Please can we have coffee? Like how did we get here. So what are you asking me? I was consistent sometimes it was 2000 sometimes it was 5000 and then I got to a job and then I just continued." This guy used to eat chapati dondo  once a day just so that he would save money but he remained super consistent. I asked myself, "My darling sister what is in your account at this point in time and I realized I had messed up again because I took it for granted what I had." And he told me he was putting a down payment for an office at Crawford Business Park. I am like what, "So he put his down payment, got a loan for the balance and he rented out and I think now he has paid it off but he has continued to be consistent to this day. Those days he was 2000, 5000, 10000 now it's 100,000 every month. Let me just tell you that one client is the reason I have money wise, one of the reasons.""

Dave Ramsey says, "Your income is your most important wealth building tool." Following through with the story Rinah shared of the man who said he was consistent and continues to be to this day. It seems he knew or knows something about using his income as seed to grow and produce more seeds. He invested, bought an apartment, the apartment continues to give him rent and he continues to invest? What have you resolved to do? 

My first job was as a cleaner. I was earning 10 dollars a month - Amos Wekesa

Amos Wekesa once said, "When I started doing business, it's about 5/6 years, every time my mother looked at me, she could shed tears. It's not until 5 or 6 years ago that she opened up. When I was born she was so poor that she contemplated killing me. She planned to kill me on a Friday not because she did not like me but because the conditions were very difficult for her." Let that sink in, poverty can be that bad, it can make us think of doing crazy things.

I watched the interview between Amos Wekesa and Wode Maya and learnt quite a number of things, he said, "I hadn't eaten meat for so many years, I looked old but I was not that old. I went and served meat and I remember walking home and I cried and told God, 'Why did you make me so poor?' that even meat is such an important thing and that day I made a renewal of my life and that if I get a chance, I will work so hard and my dream was to work so hard to eat a lot of meat."

Today Amos is the face of Tourism in Uganda, he founded PELA commodities to produce grain and he continues to pioneer in many areas in his life. His resolve to work so hard can be seen with the results of his great works through Great Lakes Safari Lodges, Elephant Plains lodge,  Primate Lodge Kibale, Budongo Eco Lodge, Simba Safari Camp, MV Kazinga (boat cruise).

"I understand poverty. I have first hand experience with poverty.  Poverty is very demeaning" says Amos Wekesa. "When we were born, I hardly ate chicken. When I came to Kampala, I went to a slum and I was paying less than 2 dollars. I had this land lady from Hell. She would go and drink and come at 3AM tell me how poor I was."

"My first job was as a cleaner. I was earning 10 dollars a month. I never used to use a car. I would walk 20kms for 3 hours, that was my normal life, I never used to question it but it was also hard, I went to a good school for A-levels, most of my classmates went to University and to be honest it was one of the toughest times finding my former school mates and trying to say, 'hello' some of them would see me from far and cross the road." Amos further says, "One thing I have discovered about life is that once you have done your best in the small job you have been given, the voice will be clear that it is time to move on. But if you go to a job and complain, you will not hear that voice. There is a lady who used to make me katoogo of beans and cassava, I would go home boil and take 3/4 in the evening and 1/4 in the morning. That was my life, from Monday to Monday because I couldn't afford anything."

"For my third job, I became a Tour guide." says Amos Wekesa, "That's when I discovered my gift." I guided the dutch people and I was earning 1 dollar a day and God is my witness, "For my first trip we were doing a camping trip and I guided these guys for15 days, my boss gave me 1,000 Uganda Shillings. I sat in the car and I cried and I said man, after 15 days."

Cutting Water Melon Story: Resolved To Never Ever Be Poor Again

Amos says, " The last day, we had bought watermelon from Lake Bunyonyi. The Tourists asked my boss, 'Why aren't you giving guys something to cut watermelon?' I remember the boss saying, ''You see that guy, I am paying him almost nothing but he can never do better than this in his life. That day In front of Tourists, 'I stood up and I said, but in my life, I will never ever work for you again and I can promise you, I will never ever be poor, I am leaving you today and I will never work for you again. I am just tired of the same stories. The tourists were shocked, they knew I was poor, 'I said No! I now have knowledge I am not poor anymore, I knew my gift and I knew I  was good with tourists and with Tourism as a subject. I went and got my last job where I was a desk guy and earning 35 dollars a month.' So I worked for a year and saved up 200 dollars. On 22nd April, 2001, I registered for Great Lakes Safaris. and 23rd April, 2001 I started Great Lakes Safaris. I looked out for opportunities for weddings on Thursdays, I would show them I have cars for weddings. I would make 5 or 10 dollars. Everyday by 6AM, I would be at the washing bay to make sure the cars were clean and I hand them over for 9 months and that's what made me survive, then I saved up for my first office under a stair case. It was a good location. My first employee was earning 20 dollars a month but it was hard and many voices kept coming."

We all know who Amos Wekesa is. His story highlights how he resolved against all odds to not be poor ever again, this reminds me of a story of a lady called Lisa Nichols echoed a similar statement, “I will never be broke again”

We must resolve, that's the starting point. You can tell yourself, "I will save 5, 10, 20m in one year, I will reach half a billion by 40, I will save and invest 'x' amount of money every month, I will study financial education so that I can make better money and investment decisions, etc."

In the interview Amos shares a line that says, "When I think about poverty and how much I went through poverty, I do not waste any resource that I get as a person. In fact, a day of a hungry man, should be a day of inspiration for him."

Abraham Lincolns Story:

Digging a little deeper into the story of Lincoln, From his book, "How To Develop Self Confidence and Influence People by Speaking." Dale writes, "Lincoln walked to borrow every book within fifty miles of his home. Log fire was kept all night in his cabin sometimes he read by the light of the fire. As soon as it was light enough to read in the morning, he rolled over his bed of leaves, rubbed his eyes, pulled out a book, and began devouring it."

We wonder why Lincoln had some of the best speeches but it goes back to his resolve, determination and thirst for knowledge. If he could walk within fifty miles to read, have a log fire to read, wake up and read, then what he pictured himself becoming allowed him to embrace the pain of the process.

How do the above insights and stories from my friend who went to study in SA and Lincoln speak to us about our personal finance. Some people sit back thinking it's too hard to attain what the high fliers are attaining. The high flyers are up there because they went an extra mile. They did not just stop at believing or saying, "I wanted to be wealthy." They acted on their dreams inspite of the hardships they faced. 

  • It is possible to get out of debt, you must resolve;
  • It is possible to start investing and living a debt free life but you must resolve.
  • It is possible to attain any kind of education without excuse but you must resolve.
  • It is possible to fund that dream, company, factory from your savings and investments but you must resolve.

 “Fuss has never led anyone to success.” says Julian Wilson. With your determination and plan, get yourself rolling. As Amos Wekesa kept growing, he kept saving and investing for his next goal just like he did to register his company, to rent his first office space under a stair case, to buy his first car for business, etc. 

I conclude this by rechoing what Amos said when he resolved he would never be poor again, He said, "I said No! I now have knowledge I am not poor anymore, I knew my gift and I knew I  was good with tourists and with Tourism as a subject."

We can see from his experiences, he kept gathering knowledge and every experience contributed to his growth. Knowledge is important and many people perish for lack of it. This applies to any discipline including financial education. Dr. Sunday Adelaja says,"Your pocket might be empty today, but if your mind is filled up, then you are not poor. It is just a matter of time before your filled mind will cause your pocket to be filled up." and Benjamin Franklin says, "Take the money out of your pocket and put it in your mind."

Let us resolve to be great and grow in our financial knowledge because as Abraham Lincoln told the young lawyer, "Your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing." Those who learn, earn. Resolve today to get that big hairy financial goal. Resolve to have financial peace, freedom, investments, etc.

Thursday 11 January 2024

Peril of Poor Money Management: I Was Careless and Foolish

Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

"Wealthy people manage money well while poor people mismanage money well." ~ T. Harv Ever

Not managing money well can make life as hard as a rock. Joshua not real name always took a lazyfe approach towards the things he did in life including money management. He often received money, used it without planning or accounting for it. He never tracked his money to know what he spent on. He got a good paying job and he was their accountant. The job of an accountant comes with a lot of responsibility. To cut the long story short, his bad habits of poor money management at an individual level got the best of him. At some point he couldn't account for company funds, this made him lose his job. The job loss was one of the hardest things that happened to him. It was a wake up call and he had to go through rewiring and reprogramming his financial habits and mindset.

Isaac a friend to a friend always says, “I am never with money even when salary comes in, it goes quickly without any major developments.” All this points to his financial management. Is it an upbringing issue or stubbornness?

When T. Harv Eker says, "Wealthy people manage money well while poor people mismanage money well," he is speaking of a high level financial skill and money mindset that we all need to have. 

Our mindsets and habits have been wired by what we have heard, seen or specific incidents that have happened to us from childhood. We need awareness, understanding, reprogramming and reconditioning to make great changes. Money management cannot change unless we change.

Two Stories: Callie and William

From his book Poverty Mindset vs Abundance Mindset, Dr. Sunday Adelaja shares a story of Callie Rogers. She was Britain’s youngest-ever lottery winner who wasted away her money on drugs, booze and cosmetic surgery. It is said, she became so depressed, she even (allegedly) attempted suicide three times. Adelaja writes, "Rogers was introduced to cocaine by a boyfriend and spent over $400,000 on the drug in six years before getting clean. She also got breast implants, fancy cars and more. Rogers was so broke, she could not even afford to have favorite gift for just 99 cents! Now that Rogers is broke, she’s back home living with her parents and works as a maid." 

Adelaja shares another story about William “Bud” Post: He writes, "You would think winning the lottery for $16.2 million would be a dream come true. But like almost every other case, it soon turned into hell on earth. William “Bud” Post had just $2.46 in his bank account. He just finished serving 28 days prison term. To afford lottery ticket, Post sold a ring for $40 and purchased 40 lotto tickets. Two weeks after winning, Post went on a spending spree... spending more than $300,000 on buying a restaurant, a used-car lot and an airplane. William “Bud” Post died 18 years after his big win. He admitted he was both careless and foolish, trying to please his family. He eventually declared bankruptcy and died with over a million dollars indebtedness. He allegedly remarked that “I was much happier when I was broke.

With those two stories with sad endings, money management must be over emphasised and one must understand what money is, know their financial blueprint to avoid having such endings.

Have a System

For people who manage money well. One of the key things they have is a system. James Clear shares from his book Atomic Habits and says,  "We don't rise to the level of our goals but we fall to the level of our systems."

A system is very important in ensuring we have the blueprint or the foundation to enable us build the house or houses that will last for years to come.

In his book System Building: The key to resolving every problem and attaining every goal Dr. Sunday Adelaja says, "The lack of understanding of a systematic approach to resolving different problems makes a majority of us attempt to use our strengths to solve every problem that comes our way but always fail. As a result, we stupidly waste our energy, we get tired frequently, disillusioned, and depressed by our low results and general inefficiency in life."Often, this kind of life leads to nervous stress and negative effects on our health.

Relating this to money management. The ANTS have a system and in their system they know there is summer where they do the harvest and winter where there is no activity. It is written they have no ruler, governor but they work together to ensure they gather and store. What do you do in your earning years/time? When Joseph knew there would be 7 years of famine, he was made governor and asked for a fifth of the produce(20%). It is prudent for you to set your financial system in order in this year 2024. Could it be the 50/30/20 rule? Whatever it is, have a system.

It is important to know how you are going to earn, save, invest, budget, track expenditures and give to the people who will need it. 

Some people only have a system/blueprint of spending. Whatever money they earn, they are thinking about the next hangout, party, clothes, shoes, car, etc. Paul Busharizi says, "If your spending was biased towards consumption and away from investment, you are barely making ends meet, regardless of your salary. If on the other hand your spending was biased towards investment and away from spending, you probably are better off than the average person around you."

This reminds me of Proverbs 21:20 - "The wise have wealth and luxury but fools spend whatever they get." As part of your money management, your desire should be to have wealth and how do we get wealth, it comes through investing. 

In your system, investing must be part of it just like we are taught in the parable of the talents. If you want to be the fool who mismanages money well, it's written that as the money comes in it gets out fast, its spent in every way possible. 

Don't be a fool. William "Bud" Post said, "I was careless and foolish." Be wise. Your wisdom will reward you.

Paul Busharizi says, "Eating our money provides instant gratification and also has the added bonus of making us “look” rich. While investing our money, not only will the benefits come sometime down the road but also chances are people will not know about it and therefore will not know that we are rich."

In his book the Psychology of money, Morgan Housel says that, "Wealth is hidden, it is not seen." There are so many people who are flamboyantly buying this and that to try and show off and they following every one who posts things on social media, you are keeping up with the Joneses but your pocket is not keeping up with them, You are broke! and you will continue to be broke and it will show even in your latter years. Paul says, "While investing our money, not only will the benefits come sometime down the road but also chances are people will not know about it and therefore will not know that we are rich."

You have to ensure that instant gratification is dealt with, not trying to show off because who cares, just care about yourself and do the right things to cater for your future. 

In his book Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe says,  

"He always said that whenever he saw a dead man's mouth, he saw the folly of not eating what one had in one's life time. Unoka was, of course, a debtor and owed every neighbour some money, from a few cowries to quite substantial amounts."

Don't be like UNOKA, he was;

  • Lazy
  • Poor and couldn't provide for his family
  • Heavily indebted.

"In his day he was lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow. If any money came his way, It seldom did, he immediately bought gourds of palm-wine."

Manage your money well. The end is predictable. The wise have wealth and luxury while fools have nothing(they spend whatever they get.) 


Saturday 6 January 2024

Thriving in Turbulent Times: Strategies for Navigating Economic Challenges



Photo by Leroy Skalstad on Unsplash

By Arthur Moses Opio

The word crisis doesn't exist in Mandarin, the Chinese word is opportunity. Embracing the abundance mindset. You stop seeing the crisis and you start to see the opportunity ~ Tony Otoa

We all go through a crisis, it can be economic, family disorientation, marital problems or academic failure. As of November and December, 2023 our inflation as a country was at 2.6% - It did go up and with projections from the current things happening in the country like the increased debt, being removed from the Agoa list, etc. We should brace ourselves for tougher times. But how we view the tougher times, is really up to us. We can see it as a crisis or as an opportunity. There will always be someone who benefits from problems. How they prepare, their mindset towards it is key.

On Friday the 4th January, 2019 an article came up on the daily monitor saying, "Here comes 2019; tighten your seat belts, watch the money, and the politics". In the write up, the writer shares his teacup readings for what the year would hold. He said, "First the Africa's debt growing problem. Because our bureaucrats don't plan so well, they usually end up following the advice of outsiders." The writer added and said, "So they can't probably see the writing on the wall that we are constipated by debt. They will just take on more and more of this debt in 2019.

Between 2019 and 2023, a lot has happened and we have seen our debt sky rocket. An article once came out in daily monitor and they said it would take Uganda 94 years to clear its debt. Before the end of 2023, it was said that Uganda government borrowed 7trn in seven days. So yes, we are heavily indebted, government needs the money to do many things and the hight debt is not good for the common man because the taxes will be high and this will affect the pockets of every person as inflation will also kick in higher. Inflation is hidden tax that we all pay and those who understand it can either be eaten up by it or benefit from it. It's too bad that many people are so gullible, all they do is spend their money on depreciating assets and not on appreciating assets.

In an article posted on Business Insider Africa on October 6, 2023. The said, "World Bank warns Nigerian, Ethiopian, and Ugandan Central banks not to overplay their hand." Some of the details mentioned were, "If monetary and fiscal actions are not adequately coordinated to bring down inflation, the risk of de-anchoring inflation expectations would fuel further inflation, accelerate interest rate increases, and exacerbate the deceleration of economic activity.

If inflation wasn't brought down, there would be further inflation. Inflation basically means, we use more money to get our goods and services. Things become expensive. Meaning if you have no extra source of income, you are one emergency away from losing everything including your savings.

With the double digit inflation that hit us, the World Bank asked that these things be dealt with including managing inflation. For those who love saving money in the bank, your money loses value everyday due to inflation. Robert Kiyosaki is famously known for pushing the thought that savers are losers. He pushes many people to invest. That's what the wealth do. If they save, they save to invest not save to save and what they have in the bank is just for emergency.

In 2022, an article came up in the Nile Post, saying, "Tighten your belts, Minister tells Ugandans who can't afford a belt." Minister Baryomunsi said, "Referring to this economic crisis as international may not be the solution, but it's a fact. The solution to this economic crisis is to tighten our belts."

The idiom of tightening our belts is something we were always taught from childhood and this was to tell us to be frugal and manage our resources well. 

It's now 2024 and we might not be able to control 98% of the external things that will affect the economy like weather, global fuel prices, dollar rate, high debt, etc. We however have the 2% and yes tightening our belts is one of them. 

After sharing some insights from my #FinancialFriday tips that I post about on my X/Twitter handle every Friday. A friend of mine in our basketball WhatsApp group said, "Also share strategies to navigate these hard days. Brothers and sisters are choking and stagnant."

I responded by saying, "Thanks. I believe we can all give input. I will put together a small write-up on that.

I have shared a picture of what we are currently in as a country and indeed times are hard but even in these hard times, those who have knowledge to navigate it will come out on top.

“I would like people to recognise in looking at my story that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you. It’s not the environment, it’s not the other people who were there trying to help you or trying to stop you. It’s what you decide to do and how much effort you put behind it.” ~ Ben Carson

With insights from Ben Carson's quote, there are things we must do as individuals even in hard times, the crisis can become an opportunity  so while thinking about whether to write later, I started jotting down these thoughts and shared them as listed below:

Avoid Worrying

The first thing anyone ideally should do is avoid getting stressed or worrying. It is written that by worrying, we cannot add a thing to our life. Anxiety is one of the things that should be under our feet and we should be on top of it.

Worrying affects our thinking, and it can lead us to make decisions that can hurt us even more.

Instead of worrying about how money will not be enough, plan and budget for your finances, know where your money is coming from and where it should go. 

Learn a skill that can help you solve a problem. When problems are solved, you get paid because you have brought value to the market place.

Reduce your expenses. Do not let lifestyle inflation get the best of you. Keeping up with Jane, John and Jack won't help. Don't let what you see flashed on social media mislead you. Run your own race. Live and work within your means as you also increase your means. 

If you want to have fun, plan for it. Do it on plan and purpose. Don't only save for a rainy day, also save for a joyous day. That day out with friends, family, etc. plan for it. Don't get excited about the next hot concert, a lot of people out there are planning to take money out of your pocket. So plan where your money should go instead of letting the voices behind Momon take centre stage.

Educate Ourselves

Secondly, we need to educate ourselves. A lady called Tornabi says, "That thing we fear, we should get out and educate ourselves about it." Is it a business that we fear, investing, building an emergency fund, networking, etc? 

Educate your yourself on matters of finance, things like behavioural finance, your financial blue print, saving, investing, debt, budgeting, etc.

Educating ourselves and seeking help from those who have a blueprint can be of great help.

Many of us are always told to have faith, but on top of our faith, we must add virtue and knowledge and other things.

Why does knowledge come out strong? It is written that even if it cost you, get understanding and knowledge. It is also written that my people perish for the lack of knowledge. It's even worse if we know knowledge or truth and we reject it. God also rejects us and nature and people will reject us too.

Act on The Knowledge

Thirdly, when armed with the knowledge and you are certain and have weighed other options, we must act. Inaction or being in a valley of indecision can be quite costly. 

While gathering data, Rolf Dobelli says, "Forget trying to amass all the data. Do your best to get by with the bare facts. It will help you make better decisions. Superfluous knowledge is worthless, whether you know it or not." Daniel J. Boorstin says, "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge."

It's written that Isaac prospered in tough times, but it wasn't easy for him, he kept being chased from one well after another after digging, but eventually the last place he dug, he was able to settle and have water.

Times will come when we must accept and cut our losses. We shouldn't be victims of the sunk cost fallacy. If it did not work, don't whine over the issue, take the lessons.

Rolf Dobelli says, "The sunk cost fallacy is most dangerous when we have invested a lot of time, money, energy or love in something. This investment becomes a reason to carry on, even if we are dealing with a lost cause. The more we invest, the greater the sunk costs are, and the greater the urge to continue becomes." He further says, "Investors frequently fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy."

Don't Wish It Was Easier, Be Better

I learnt something from Jim Rohn, he says, "Many times people wish that things were easier, but we should wish we were better."

We must be better in these 5 areas,

  1. Family,
  2. Faith,
  3. Finances
  4. Fitness
  5. Friendships

There are other things that can be added to that list, but yes, our lives really evolve around those five places.

So let's be better and don't give up.

Yes, accept that things are hard but don't give up.

Galatians 6:9 says, "Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, you shall reap if you faint not."

Someone reading this might need to pick up the pieces and start all over again. I shared some insights in this article on how you can do it. Giving up is not an option.

And lastly in the words of Jerry Rice, Former NFL player and Hall of Famer, he said and I quote, "I will do what others can't do today so that tomorrow I can accomplish what others won't."

What sacrifice are you willing to make to enjoy the promise of tomorrow? Our grandparents always had granaries in their compounds and this was for food security and storage of seeds for the next planting season. That wisdom kept homes a float and even in hard times, they had where they could deep their hands without depleting the resources.

Hardwork, discipline, order, sacrifice, etc. can be of great help.

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