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.

1 comment:

  1. It is all about becoming better than we were last time. A small improvement is worth celebrating


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