EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is part of our Money254 Partner Series produced in partnership with Absa Bank Kenya.
Think about it. You are not just one thing.
You are not just your job, or your family responsibilities, or your passions, hobbies or just your side hustles, even your dreams - they are most likely more than one; your relationships - they have different levels of importance.
You are all these things and more. You are multifaceted.
None of us are just one thing. In fact, if we were forced to be, for example, just our jobs, life wouldn’t likely be that enjoyable, right?
How about not being able to hang out with your friends regularly? Would you at the snap of your fingers give up going to the gym, or your favourite sport?
No matter how much you are excelling at work, how complete would you feel if you were not able to help your children with homework or attend that art/music session with them? How about giving up those fun vacays you take with your special one every quarter?
Indeed multiple things make up who we truly are, and for the majority of us, we want the ability to do all the things that matter to us simultaneously and sustainably, to feel truly complete.
And do you know what is that single thing that determines how well you are able to achieve the dream of doing the many things that make you who you are?
Yes, your progress towards achieving them all rises and falls with your personal finances.
And personal finance encompasses all the decisions you make towards achieving your financial goals including understanding all the routes to this; from income generation, to saving and investing, debt management, insurance and retirement planning.
If you are able to get a good hold of your personal finances, you stand a good chance of thriving in your multifaceted life. And that means understanding the building blocks of personal finance, the associated financial products and services, and coming up with a plan to utilise them in concert.
And this is perhaps best achieved when you have all these building blocks set up and managed in one place where you have the ability to track them all and also get the necessary expert support to keep improving on them without any of it falling behind.
In this article, we are going to introduce you to the concept of “wholesome banking” which embodies this idea of marrying all the multiple aspects of your life that make you who you are with your personal finances - as a way of giving oneself a good chance at succeeding in our multifaceted lives.
We will explore how “wholesome banking” can support the many sides of you, how all aspects of your personal finances can be consolidated into a singular plan under one financial service provider and streamline the journey to financial freedom.
Also, to help you visualise how wholesome banking can look like in action, we will be using examples from Absa Kenya’s suite of banking solutions as a template that you can build from in your own unique journey.
If indeed none of us are simply just one thing and our personal finances are the fuel for our multifaceted lives, then the modern banking partner has to view us as not just a saver, or simply a borrower - but a wholesome individual with multiple identities and innovates financial products to cater for all those needs.
As such, wholesome banking is the need to have a banking partner that addresses the various aspects of your life; from work, to family, to your social life, to your interests, retirement, to the side hustle and the side hustle's side hustle - all under one roof.
And this is only possible if the banking partner is able to provide services around the five pillars of personal finance - earn, save, invest, borrow and spend - which effectively are the five pillars of wholesome banking.
These five pillars are like your financial toolbox. How well you build these pillars up will directly determine how well you are going to be living your multifaceted life.
The first pillar of your personal finances is your income - how much you earn, from which sources and in what form. Your income will determine your ability to save which then impacts how much you can invest for your future.
The younger you are, the more critical this pillar is to your financial future. Your goal in this pillar is to progressively get a better tradeoff of your time for money while developing more monetisable skills.
The current account (personal and/or business) is then the first wholesome banking service you will need and while making the choice, you need to consider how helpful it will be in helping you manage your money and increasing your earning potential.
First, the current account is your core financial record; it is where your earnings land first before being utilised either for savings, expenditure or investment.
The account you choose needs to help you seamlessly manage these outflows as well as have good record-keeping tools including low-balance alerts, online and automatic bill payments, automation of savings as well as low and transparent fees.
Secondly, you want to choose a banking partner that has add-ons to the current account that could contribute to your earnings such as access to exclusive networking events, free or discounted insurance and investment facilitation.
For example, Absa Kenya has a range of personal current accounts based on where one is on their financial journey.
From Absa One, to Ultimate, Prestige, Premier, Ignite and Foreign Currency current accounts, you get benefits ranging from access to Absa Connect Lifestyle Events, free domestic home content insurance, free debit and credit cards, to preferential pricing on loans and mortgages, access to a personal banker, automatic overdrafts and easy access to short term investment options such as the Absa unit trust funds.
Absa Kenya also offers a wide range of business accounts including SME, commercial, the She business account, Agribusiness, Shari’ah, Merchant and Business Club accounts that among other benefits give you access to quarterly networking events, workshops and seminars, monthly trainings, business advisory services as well as coaching and mentorship to grow your business.
Saving is the second pillar of your personal finances. You need to have savings, at the very least, as a cushion against emergencies. Loss of income such as losing your job, health issues, and other unexpected life events can become significant financial setbacks if you do not have emergency funds.
But you need savings too to fund short-term goals such as furnishing your house, buying a car or even funding a well-deserved vacation. Savings are typically going to be crucial in affording you a multifaceted life.
For example, if you are a high school teacher who also has an interest in the performing arts and would want to be a music instructor in the future, you may want to save up to purchase your first guitar and so on.
Saving, as a wholesome banking pillar, then dictates that your banking partner provides you with options that cater to the different reasons you may have for saving.
For example, the Absa Digital Savings Account which is fully online offers an annual interest rate of 9% which is the highest among commercial banks in Kenya today. The interest accrues daily, compounds monthly and you are allowed to withdraw instantly, in case of an emergency, without incurring a penalty.
This account has no fees and does not have a minimum balance requirement. It can be used for keeping your emergency funds, regular savings, target savings or even your investment fund.
Absa also offers USD and GBP foreign currency accounts, fixed deposit accounts starting at Ksh50,000 with no fees, a Twin Reward Account and the Absa Junior Savings Account that comes with exclusive access to Absa Junior Partners with discounts and offers on events.
Remember, saving is a building block to long-term wealth, and as such, saving is not an end in itself. It is absolutely important that you have an emergency fund and, desirably, cover your short-term goals with savings. If this is catered for (and it can be done progressively), consider investing.
Investing is the third pillar of your personal finances. And this is what is popularly known as “making your money work for you”. While the returns from savings may be capped, returns from investments can be several times higher depending on the risk you are willing to take.
Generally, invested money will compound over time. This can be simply put as “earning interest on interest”. And this idea is not limited to interest-earning investments such as bonds and money market funds.
Think of it as earning from both your original investment and from the returns you earned previously. For example, in real estate, you can use rental income from one real estate investment to build another block of rental units and start earning twice as much in rent - all from just one initial investment.
It is also equally important that you invest in your future. How will you afford life during your retirement days? You start putting money aside today from your monthly income to invest for your retirement to make sure when you are less able to earn a living, you will still be able to maintain your standard of living.
Investing as a wholesome banking pillar then demands a banking partner that provides you with options to make your money work for you. You want a banking partner that allows you platforms to invest in what matters most to your multifaceted life.
For example, Absa Kenya customers have, among other investment options, access to;
Borrowing is the fourth pillar of your personal finances. And while many may frown on borrowing, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, borrowing is one of the ways to build wealth using “other people’s money.”
You can borrow money and use it as capital to make an investment that makes you money such as in real estate, starting a business or side hustle. If the investments you make turn out to be profitable, then you will be enjoying profits from money that you didn’t have.
These profits then can fund the needs of your multifaceted life; whether it is enriching your parenting experience by being able to give your children more, allowing you time to do your hobbies, donating to the charitable courses that matter to you and so on.
Borrowing can also allow you to afford things that you need today without necessarily having the full amount. For example, you may need to take out a car financing product now that you have two children and need a car, take a mortgage loan to buy or build a family house or pay school fees when you are low on cash. Borrowing can also come in handy during certain kinds of emergencies.
However, always make sure you borrow only what you can afford to pay back. It is important that you assess your ability to afford the monthly repayments - making sure that they do not strain you financially.
Credit cards are a distinct way of borrowing that, with discipline, allows you to plug short-term liquidity challenges without incurring any additional cost due to the generous interest-free windows offered.
For example, with Absa Kenya, you have access to, among others, the following borrowing options;
Yes. Probably the most important pillar of your personal finances is the fifth - how you spend your money. And this is where the budget - the backbone of your personal finances - comes in.
On top of earning, saving, investing and managing debt, there are always expenses that need to be taken care of such as rent, food, transport, utilities and other costs of living.
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to spend on wants such as entertainment, ordering food in or eating out, luxury purchases and other lifestyle spending only after covering the necessities.
Insurance, whether car, health, property or gadget is a major expenditure item for most households - one that needs to be kept in control while ensuring you get maximum coverage based on your needs.
Spending as a wholesome banking pillar demands that your banking partner provides you with the tools, products and services that ensure you can effectively stick to your budget. If you do not have a budget, first come up with one. The 50/30/20 rule is recommended for beginners.
For example, with Absa Kenya;
While indeed none of us is just one thing, our personal finances can be distilled into four pillars that power all the many hats that we wear - earn, save, invest, borrow and spend.
Keeping these five pillars in check will progressively allow us to live our multifaceted lives in full and on our own terms. And as such, finding a financial partner who can provide us with a tool, service or product that caters to these five pillars together, under one roof, is of great importance.
Absa Bank is one of the financial institutions in Kenya offering its clients tailored solutions for every kind of need they may have to get their personal finance pillars in order - wholesome baking.
Want to make Absa Kenya your wholesome baking partner? Start here.