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Why it pays now to have a 'Plan B' in your life

Saturday November 16 2019

planning

An employee making financial plans. With an income of whatever amount, good management and time, you can grow wealth. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

STELLA ADI
By STELLA ADI
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We all heard the saying "Don't put all your eggs in one basket", haven’t we?

The adage signifies that it’s safer to have several options so that if one of them fails, you will have something else to fall back on, otherwise you will be left with nothing.

Some would argue that the opposite is true. That if you hone your talent, skill, through perseverance and hard work, you can make a success out of whatever you set your sights on.

Still, one can never be too prepared. More so when it comes to matters that are out of our control like the shaky economic environment we’re experiencing as a nation right now.

Nobody ever goes into a meaningful venture – a business, a relationship or a career – expecting to fail but hey, life sometimes has other plans.

In the case of losing your job, it can be outright devastating. You need an alternate plan- a PLAN B.

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When your job is your identity

Do you have any in place? If you are yet to have one, here are indications on where to begin.

“That morning when I walked into the head of the HR's office, I had a sinking feeling. Word had been going around that some of us were going to get laid off due to some restructuring in the company.

When she said the words, ‘Your position has been made redundant’ I was stunned for a second. I don’t remember how the rest of that conversation went.

When the shock wore off a little, I felt dejected, unvalued, defeated. Then I felt scared.”

These are the words of a close friend who found herself unexpectedly jobless after working for nearly three years and with zero other prospects.

This could have been you. Massive layoffs are not a foreign concept to many of us.

Just this year, several companies have announced more than 2,000 retrenchments since July.

Where once law firms, hospitals, and banks seemed like ideals for job security, experts say that’s no more.

Alarming headlines and findings like these may generate anxiety in anyone currently in a new job or searching, but a little contingency planning can do wonders to calm your nerves.

Your Plan B on job loss: save and invest

Investment adviser and author Rina Hicks says a good rule of thumb is to have enough savings to cover your expenses for at least six months.

If saving in a bank is undesirable look at joining a chama or sacco whose returns may be more lucrative.

Maureen Wamahiu, Head of Data Operations at Credit Reference Bureau, TransUnion Kenya, keeps it simple.

She says it’s never too late to start saving and spend less than you earn.

This may be the difference between having a small cushion if the worst comes to the worst in your business or career and you quickly fall into debt from borrowing.

Which brings us to investing. When it comes to the talk of investing your money, spreading your risk is a no-brainer.

I mean no matter your risk appetite, it would not make financial sense to dunk all your savings into one investment pool, right?

“Don't just put all your savings in one investment because it promises a great return. All investments come with an element of risk and it is important to analyse that risk before investing your money,” says Hicks, the author of Money Wise.

Also, invest some of your money in liquid, safe and secure options that will not cause you to wake up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat wondering whether your money has disappeared.

Some of those safe secure options include Treasury Bills, Fixed Deposit accounts, and money market funds from solid institutions.

With an income of whatever amount, good management and time, you can grow wealth.

Be prepared to move on

Even if you’re currently happy at your place of work, you always need to be ready to move on because things could change on the fly as you wallow in comfort.

According to research, this should be especially easier for millennials who are less likely to remain with the same employer for more than three years.

Take June Kan’gethe for instance, who worked for a prestigious airline company and was thrilled when she first got the job.

For a few years, she was content with the exciting opportunity before she started to realise that there was hardly any room for upward growth in the company.

She began doing a certificate course in the evenings which she completed and then started secretly applying for jobs and going for interviews.

Within four months she was working in a less stressful job for better pay.

Always have an updated CV, keep abreast of the latest trends in your industry and be at the top of your game by picking up new skills online that a potential employer would appreciate.

Stay fresh. For those who are usually wallflowers, now’s the time to become that networking butterfly and make and maintain important connections.

Take up a hobby

When was the last time you tried something completely new? Changed your social spots? Met new people?

Now is the time to step out of your social cocoon because new experiences help us grow and discover new things about ourselves.

And for someone who wants to expand their options in these uncertain times, this is an exciting way to go about it.

Look at it as an adventure of sorts. If you’re very analytical in your day job, how about experimenting with more creative projects during the weekend?

Look for social groups near you where you can learn something new. When was the last time you went to a concert or another sensory-stimulating event?

Although opening yourself up to new experiences seems daunting, the upside is you will most likely grow and uncover hidden talents or brand new interests that you could later morph into a profitable side-business.

Stick with what you know

Speaking of side businesses, the Kenya Economic Survey 2019 revealed that unemployment stood at 9.3 per cent as of last year.

It also said that 83.6 per cent of the new jobs were created in the informal sector compared to 16.4 per cent in the formal sector.

If you have decided that your Plan B or fallback plan in case things go sideways is a side hustle, it need not be an entirely new thing to you. Stick to what you know.

Keep in mind that it is easier to attempt a side gig while you still have a day job.

The countless success stories of people whose hustle became so profitable that they walked away from their careers are quite telling.

Redefine success

If to you success has always looked like progressing steadily in your field and then landing the corner office at the end of six to 10 years, you may need to widen your scope of what success means and at the same time still be proud of the strides you make – big or small.

Sometimes, however, your Plan B may also mean having your eyes on the same prize but changing the path you use to get there.

This could mean being open to relocate or change your specialty or field as trends ebb and flow.

Flexibility over a rigid plan will win every time. In the words of W. Brett Wilson, author of Redefining Success, “Don’t fear the unknown; embrace the opportunity.”

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