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Surprising money lessons we have drawn from Covid-19

Saturday May 23 2020

savings

What does the future look like for you? What would you like it to look like? Start taking steps towards your future, now. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SIAANOI MARIMA
By SIAANOI MARIMA
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Whether we like it or not, we will continue to have conversations around and about Covid-19.

It is after all our new normal. I spoke to a few people who were happy to share what learning opportunities this pandemic has offered.

Meet Neema Kamau - entrepreneur and founder of Elimubox, mother of four and a book lover

Before the pandemic, Neema had events lined up – her love for books led her to start a business for children’s story books.

She had bookings before the pandemic for children’s events and parties. Now this is not feasible given that social gatherings are prohibited. “I’ve had to rethink my business model and set up a website to connect with customers.”

Asked about the impact of the pandemic on her finances, she says: “Cash flow has been affected. On the home front, I'm more conscious of how and what I am spending my money on. I look out for supermarket bargains, and I am now part of a group that buys fresh produce directly from small-scale farmers.

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I am deliberate about supporting fellow small business owners because I know fully well that in this season every penny counts. We are also teaching our children the value of giving and sharing and involving them in our giving initiatives,” Neema says.

Is there a silver lining? Neema says she has become more intentional in her parenting and is using this time to teach life skills.

“The children are watching us, and how we respond to this crisis will shape how they respond to crises in life. I am also involving them in my business – they help with sorting and coding books. We are also learning new things together like doing crafts and making home-made toys. I’m teaching them to be grateful for what they have and the importance of sharing with the vulnerable.”

Her biggest lesson? Simplify your life.

Jennifer Pariken - Human Resources expert. She has worked in HR for 14 years with non-profits

Jennifer’s biggest learning is the value of savings and investments. “I now know that I will have to put a bigger emphasis on savings and financial independence. I read somewhere that how you are during this pandemic is exactly how your retirement will be – if you are broke, lonely and idle, that’s your future. I also know I need to focus on retirement now and think of at least three revenue streams.”

On the home front, she says she’s teaching her boys that things are not the same. “We are not ordering pizza – we are learning how to make the pizza. I’m also teaching my oldest that if he wants something, he has to work for it and save for it. For instance, he has seen a gadget that he wants and he is actively looking for work around the house and our plot on the outskirts of town, so that he can get pocket money.

His dad recently put up five beehives on the plot. So as a family, we are actively seeing what else we could do, and involving our boys on that financial journey.”

Her biggest lesson? Save, save, save and look for other ideas that will generate that extra shilling for the family.

She says that since the pandemic, they have not travelled to the village – they used to go twice a month. “We miss the trips, but clearly there have been savings, especially on fuel. Plan for retirement now!”

Financial Adviser Noah Meely agrees that the pandemic has caused Kenyans to reflect on their financial habits and practices. Meely has been in the financial space for over 20 years.

“If there’s one thing that all Kenyans have learnt, it’s the value of having savings. Everyone can and should save, whether you have Sh10,000 or Sh100,000. If you haven’t been saving, then clearly, going forward, this may become a new habit.”

RAINY DAY

Meely predicts that there will be a huge uptake in savings and investments products, as people prepare to cushion themselves against the effects of any other similar upheaval.

“It’s unfortunate that one of the negative effects of the pandemic has been job losses and pay cuts. Perhaps this is an opportunity to focus on how to prepare for the post-Covid future and what one can do. You may want to rethink your spending habits so that you start putting away some money towards a safety net and start growing your investment portfolio. It’s never too late to begin. You could join a Sacco or get expert advice. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s to save for a rainy day.”

There is a silver lining in the cloud, after all. The pandemic is causing us to redefine our lives, priorities, parenting, think on financial lessons for our children and prepare for our financial future and retirement.

What does the future look like for you? What would you like it to look like? Start taking steps towards your future, now.

Siaanoi Marima is an AoEC Certified Executive Coach. She offers executive coaching, career consulting and resume writing services. Linked in: SiaanoiMarima

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