Dear Born 1993s
I like to be the bearer of good news so I will start off on this note. If you are reading this and you were born anytime in 1993, you will be turning 30 this year - The third floor is here - just like that!
Congratulations and happy new year.
I also turned 30 not so long ago, so the third floor club at Money254 chose a fresher to share lessons with you, our esteemed reader.
Since we write and analyse money issues, my letter is going to focus a lot on the financial decisions and strategies that you should embrace, moving into your thirties.
It does not matter whether you are broke or loaded, employed or jobless - I offer this introspection because I have many things that I wish someone had alerted me on - and I have many tips that I am grateful that they came my way as I was turning 30.
The 20s are typically the fun years because they come with newfound freedom and little responsibility. The first half is mostly spent in school - just after 18 years of being closely monitored by parents and teachers. The other half typically involves a steady income coming in as you start to build your career.
The first habit to pick up as you turn 30 is to scrutinise your bills more often. You probably have been running your ATM or mobile money in December - with little care on the balances or the pre-set budget.
As you settle in your 30s, you will not only need to reflect on your past bills, but also come up with a strategy for the future. How much of your money goes into rent? To transport, to food? Do you really need to be eating out for five days a week?
If you have not been making savings, this is the right time to start. If you have been inconsistent in your savings, this is the time to institutionalise a culture of savings.
One of the advantages of youth is time. When you started working, say five years ago, you had 35 years to the standard retirement age. This year, you will have 30 years to go - not too late, beautiful you squander the opportunity, it could end up being too late.
You probably have come across this story about a conversation that often involves smokers - and sometimes, drinkers.
The smoker notes that he has been smoking for 30 years and the no-smoker replies that the smoker must have spent a fortune.
“Yaani you have been smoking for 30 years, a pack a day, and the way cigarettes are expensive. If we average a pack at 200. That is Ksh72,000 per year and over Ksh2.1 million. You should have two plots in Juja.”
“Since you don’t smoke, where are you two plots?” the smoker asks the non-somer who equally cannot trace the over Ksh2 million he ‘saved’ by not smoking.
The point is, consistent savings, can do financial magic - but is hard to do. It would seem rather easy to save Ksh200 per day for 30 years - but it is clearly not easy because not many Kenyans have this Ksh2 million or its equivalent, lying around.
While you may have the benefit of time, it could very well turn into an illusion, especially when you do not establish a savings culture early. The thing about being in your 30s is that it is an age of increased responsibilities for most people.
You will probably have a family while on the third floor - school fees, medical covers, rent for a bigger space, a car, and pressure to build or buy your own home. The net effect is that if you have been treating savings as a disposable income, there will be less and less to save.
One of the best lessons I have learnt since turning 30 - is the use of a savings rule and sticking to it. I am still working on fully complying with my personal budgeting rule - 50:40:10 rule where I set aside 50 percent of my net income on essentials - rent, medical expenses, food, and education. I save 40% while the other 10% is used on wants - entertainment, discretionary clothing, travel, etc.
You can read about the saving rules here; including one that allows you to split your savings further into long term, short term, retirement etc. If you struggle with financial discipline, there are some great hacks - including having a standing order where your money will automatically be deducted from the bank to a separate savings account.
One of the challenges that I faced in my late 20s was procrastinating on saving. I always thought I would be earning more money by the time I was in my 30s - and I would save more after increasing my paycheck. That was true, I am now able to better negotiate and access higher income than I did in my 20s.
However, I look back and wish I had started saving earlier because inflation substantially cuts the value of future money.
Let’s take an example of an annual average inflation of 6%. This means that for every shilling you save and invest today, you will need it to be worth Ksh1.82 by the time you turn 40 in 2033 - based on inflation alone - to be able to purchase the same value you would have purchased with Ksh1 in 2022.
For example, if you have Ksh1 million today and buy a piece of land; and your colleague decided to buy a similar piece of land in 2033 - they will need Ksh1.82 million in 2033 (based on inflation adjustment alone). This is before you account for factors such as amenities, infrastructure, and other market forces that may push up the value of the land astronomically.
As I had mentioned earlier, the 30s often come with additional responsibility. If you are able to, it is critical that you increase and diversify your income sources in this decade.
Creating a source of extra income can involve starting side hustle if you are employed; taking a second part time job to supplement your income; starting or a new business if you are an entrepreneur, or growing your existing one.
Also Read: Side Hustles to Prepare For In 2023
Of course, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But the good news is there are multiple passive income opportunities that you can explore. You could invest in shares, real estate, bonds, savings accounts, money market funds, and T-bills - to ensure your savings are utilised to earn you an income and compound through strategic investment choices.
Just like I mentioned that inflation can compound over time, it can also lower the value of your savings if kept as hard cash. For example, if you have Ksh1 million in savings today, and choose to keep it in a current account - or say under your mattress - the future value (purchasing power) in 2033 based on the 6% annual inflation rate will be Ksh558,394.
The 20s, for most people, are years of having unlimited fun with friends daily. You can afford to go out every other night and your body will still be functional - even after getting home at 4am.
Not to be a bummer but your body vitality will slow down in your 30s. If you love football, you can already relate to the many great footballers who exit their career in the other half of their thirties.
If you are used to partying hard, it is advisable to take a slow break. If you are used to making unhealthy meal choices, now would be the time to start treating your body like a house where you will be living for the next 60 or so years. The world will not crumble if you miss that routine Friday hangout to spoil yourself with a massage, you deserve it!
Invest in a medical cover, exercise regularly, choose a healthy diet, enrol for that training or second degree - whatever you do, create time for the things that really matter to you.
I know I promised to talk about money and you may wonder about the connection with health - but creating and maintaining wealth starts with a healthy body - physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The 20s often provide your first job and some people are not lucky to get fulfilment in their first job - but they hold on because of the fear of quitting. The 30s are about settling in your joie de vivre - if your job is compromising your mental or physical health - this is the decade to quit and start afresh.
Make plans to ditch that toxic employer who does not value your skills, you will be surprised that the world is full of positive energy and good tidings - for those who are willing to go the distance.
The 30s make for a great decade where you settle into a lifestyle of increased responsibility. It is also a great decade to grow your career, invest in your health, establish a savings culture, and generally lay a firm foundation for your 40s, 50s and even retirement.
There is no one rule to having a great time on the third floor but the above tips would go a long way in setting you up on the third floor.
Above all, follow your heart!