I often look at my older pals, the ones in their 40s and 50s, and marvel at how they seem to have everything figured out.
They’ve figured out their romantic relationships and their marriages, they’re nailing it at parenthood.
They hydrate with three litres of water daily and detox with homemade green smoothies after every ten days or so. They listen to uplifting and intelligent podcasts. They read a book before going to bed at 9.30pm, rise up before dawn to meditate or keep fit. Probably a loose run or some yoga.
And they’re kicking ass in a career or job they love. They keep time. They chair meetings. They never seem to run out of brilliant ideas. They lock pressure down, as if they’re battling it with the horns in their heads.
Most important, they manage their finances like the true OGs. The hard-boiled original gangstas.
They have personal portfolios of thriving investments. Plus a number of side-hustles. They no longer pay rent; they’re either settling a mortgage or living under a roof whose brick and mortar is the sweat and sacrifice wrung off their financial dreams. They have good debt, they owe Tala and Fuliza nothing.
They never seem to go broke.
And it’s all good.
But look, don’t be fooled. Nobody has it figured out. Nobody.
Everyone is winging it.
The folk in their 40s and 50s started off where you and I did in our 20s and 30s. (Granted, some may be diving into pools of old money, but the majority are busting their behinds to claim that penny to their name.)
ARMOURY FROM DIFFERENT ARSENALS
Our financial battles are as similar are they are not. But we’re all fighting them anyway, albeit on different parts of the field, with armoury from different arsenals.
(Now that I think about it, one of the young men I mentor is in his 20s. He’s 24, actually. He also looks at me as if I’ve got it all figured out, too.)
Folk in their 40s and 50s have an advantage you and I can only wait to claim: time.
Time. Time. Time.
TIME AS AN INVESTMENT
You can’t steal time. You can’t rush it or slow it down, either. Neither can you beg or borrow it.
Time is one of the greatest assets to invest in. Everyone gets it in equal measure. Be smart about how you invest your measure.
Our age difference gives these folk a head start. Life has probably given us the same resources within our reach. Resources such as salaries, side-hustle incomes, investment groups, chamas, Saccos, the stock market, insurance companies, mentors to guide us in our life’s journey, knowledge and wisdom to make smarter decisions, patience, a risk appetite.... it’s an infinite list of resources.
The only thing they have now is the head start of time.
I’ll give you an example.
GB and I recently moved house. We want to grow the family, so we moved to a bigger space. Plus, to be honest, we’d outgrown our first house, the one we’d been living in since GB was a bachelor, then had a wife (me), then we got a nanny then our baby (Muna).
We’d been living there since November 2014, a year before Muna was born.
It’s nice, the new house and the new environment. We’re loving it so far. Embracing the change.
There’s more room to move the furniture around so I’m also trying my hand at interior decor. The last time I spent so much time on Pinterest collecting ideas is when I was planning my wedding.
Anyway, the house is owned by some couple in their mid 40s. (Or so. They could be older. Or younger, who knows? You can’t really tell these things these days.)
My first reaction when I heard about them as our landlords was fascination and admiration. ‘Wow, good for them! Clap, clap.’
Then it turned to green envy. ‘Yaani these guys own a house and us we’re still here struggling with rent? How now?’
Then the envy turned into wonder and question. ‘How did they do it, how did they manage to own a house in Nairobi? Can I do what they did and arrive to where they are now?’
My final thought was a challenge. ‘If they can do it, then so can I. So can we.’
And I told myself, ‘Someday soon in the future, a young couple like GB and I will rent one of our houses for their growing family. We just need more time.’
I’m 34 now. I bet 24-year-old me would pat me on the back for the financial strides I’ve made in the 10 years since.
I bet she’d be amazed at the things I’m able to afford now – at the money I’m able to send back to Kaplong, at the child I can clothe and feed, at the restaurants I can eat in, and the travels I can finance and the shoes in my closet, and the balls I’ve grown as an urban hustler.
I bet she’d smile when she sees how far the Sacco savings she began, with Sh3,000, have grown. Same goes for the insurance policies. And the projects financed from the cash savings. And the investments ventured into. And the side-hustles.
Mostly, she’d be proud at my maturity at managing my personal finances. (And sharing with our readers here about how to manage theirs. Clap clap.)
Now, I can only imagine and dream into existence what 44-year-old Bett would have achieved in the next 10 years.
I suggest you do the same for yourself.
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