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Money and Me: Exactly How Much is Enough for Me?
Money and Me: Exactly How Much is Enough for Me?
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Money and Me

Money and Me: Exactly How Much is Enough for Me?

Kibaki Muthamia
July 14, 2023

I applied and got a freelancing gig off LinkedIn. In celebration, I called a few friends in my line of work to pop the champagne. We spent a casual evening in my cramped bedsitter. We enforced the ‘No Phones at Meetings’ rule. 

Conversation ranged from Nobel Award-winning theories to silly, easy-flow teasing such as the ‘Kwani Utaoa Lini, Bro?’ line never gets old. The evening mellowed well, the dusk crept in and the street lights came alive.

I have a small balcony overlooking a busy street, and the din usually filters into the house. I noticed Abby - a long term friend, was spending a lot of time here. I joined her.

Abby is the classic introvert that burns midnight oil crafting introspective poetry while listening to sad music. I did not say a word - just leaned over the slab, watching the street. It was crammed with people rushing to their corner of the woods. A few grabbed a bunch of spinach, haggled over tomatoes and shuttled off.

Of Man, and a Mutura Dinner

Abby silently pointed to a lone guy standing at a Mutura stand, the delicious street sausage that tastes better after dusk. The man was snacking on the Ksh20 pieces - cut, eat, pay - and, repeat. Most people shuttle off after the first or second pieces. This man was rooted on the spot.

Abby says: “That man is having his dinner.”

It wasn’t a question. It was an observation, uninviting of my opinion. Abby is like that. She always wants you to think about stuff. 

She turns to look at me.

“When is it ever enough?” Abby asks me. 

“What do you mean?” I asked, basically to buy time. I knew what she was asking.

“Look at all these people getting off work, go rest and go back to work again. They all want to pay bills, and hope to be rich someday.”

“They have families. Kids to feed, kids to raise….” I mumble.

“Your new client, you’ll now be juggling four clients - right?” She asked.

I nodded. 

“I see you are still ‘Open for Work’ on LinkedIn - right?” Abby kept going. 

I nodded. 

“How many more clients, or work do you need to feel comfortable, like you have enough work?”

I had sincerely never paused to think about that.

I had to take control of this conversation. Abby is younger than I, but was dangerously close to sounding like a parent. 

“Abby, tell me.” I said. “What is your limit? Don’t you want to be rich and wealthy?”

“I just want to build a life I don’t need to regularly escape from….” Abby says, softly.

The guy at the Mutura stand was just leaving, hands deep into the double-holed pockets of a brown Harvard University hoodie. He had a slow shuffle walk, scrapping worn-out crocs on the gravel. A man with no urgency to be anywhere.

I started to think about Abby’s statement. She loved philosophy. Me, not so much.

Perhaps, I’m just a consumer. I rarely join debates on philosophical theories - it’s like chasing a headless chicken. I reserve that aspect for university dons with horn-rimmed glasses and tweed jackets. There’s a reason that tweed jackets come with elbow patches.

The party broke up around nine. We all still had deadlines and weekly quotas to meet. I watched them bundle into a cab from the balcony, Abby’s statement still in my mind. 

What is enough for me?

To think of it - I don’t want much. 

I feel like a prisoner caught up in a hyper-competitive society. I feel an incessant pressure to accumulate wealth and strive for financial success. All around me - billboards, social media, neighbours - are images of opulence and extravagant lifestyles, so much that I often feel inadequate. 

Like, I don't measure up. So, I end up looking for more work - to make more paper.

However, I’m tired of this system.

I want an alternative perspective - one that cherishes contentment over relentless pursuit. There is liberty - a freedom - in finding satisfaction in having "enough" and embracing a more balanced approach to life, and finances.

I don’t want to be rich. I just want to be content.

Craving the Dream Package

I’m Rent-free. I own a decent house. Nothing drains like paying rent. It does not have to be in the city, or the suburbs. It would be in an ideal satellite town, neither too far nor too near to the city. 

I’m Debt-free. I don’t have debilitating debts. Cleared my car loan. Cleared my mortgage if I get around to choosing this route. Importantly, to have used debt to build wealth, not for consumption purposes. 

I’m Bills-free. Yes, bills are like a sadistic, gnarled old witch riding piggyback with her claws dug deep in your neck. I crave a point that my bills are manageably paid upfront: School fees, paid annually. Medical insurance, paid at least two years upfront.

I’m Sacco-secure. If I can build a nice, little nest of shares in two or three Sacco’s - I’m content. I think it’s the best investment for the life I want. Once a year, I receive Sacco dividends - which I can reinvest with more shares. Better still, I can use dividends to clear a year’s worth of bills - like school fees, till the following year.

I’m Drama-free. A calm life, in regard to spouse and family. A point that I don’t shake my head in despair when my spouse’s call comes. She’s content, she’s housed, fed, clothed and financially-empowered in her own way and interests. Mental peace is important.

I’m a Jalopy-owner. A decent car. Nothing extravagant. Not expensive to buy, or run. On a Friday - or, a Monday - or, if the road trip bug bites at 0200hrs - I’m capable of filling that tank. No pressure from anyone, or anything. It’s just me, the road and good vibes.

The best of Fally Ipupa, Wakadinali and Madilu System blasting in Dolby Surround….

Unafika pale Museum Hill Roundabout, unajiuliza niingie Thika Road hadi Meru, Nanyuki ama nipande na Waiyaki Way, past Westlands ninyoroshe hadi Nakuru? Ama ata nichome hadi Eldoret?

A solo ride, reflect on my future and enjoy the fruits of my financial choices.

Sounds like a fairy tale, right? It is practical. 

Favourite Quote

This is my favourite quote, by author Brianna Wiest:

“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from…
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Kibaki Muthamia is a creative non-fiction writer with over three years in narrative-style content writing, SEO, digital marketing and social media copywriting. Away from writing, if you don't find him volunteering with St John's Ambulance, he's weaving spoken word and poetry at the Kenya National Theatre. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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