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Money and Me: The Struggles of Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Money and Me: The Struggles of Living Paycheck to Paycheck
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Money and Me

Money and Me: The Struggles of Living Paycheck to Paycheck

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Emmah Owoko (Guest)
May 7, 2022

I got my first job in 2014. Right from the start, every month-end was a scary time for me. I would anxiously check my bank balance to see if my salary was there. 

Immediately the money hit the account I would transfer it to my M-PESA fund one by one, pay all my bills; Helb, Rent, Water, Parents.. you name it. By the time I was done with budget allocations, I was left with no surplus and no savings. 

In fact, I had to forgo some expenditures. Then the feeling of anxiousness and emptiness would begin.

Earn From Peter to Pay Paul

Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for the ability to pay my bills using my income...but I couldn't help but wonder, is this all there was to money and life? paying bills? You pay your bills, the cycle starts again. 

What if a friend needed help on the 4th of the month? Don't even get me started on weddings you are expected to contribute to, baby showers, funerals, graduations, fund drives...oooh, and churches and the never-ending contributions yet you don't even have money to send your own mother, it's a whirlwind. 

I finally understood what living from paycheck to paycheck meant, my income was never enough to last me till my next paycheck, and the cycle continued. I hated month ends and this was sad considering people are struggling to make ends meet out here and many are praying daily for jobs, I guess different seasons, different problems.

This was definitely not what I wanted my money to do for me, I wanted to see that, yes, my income could fund my lifestyle, but also to have it help me invest, save and to have some discretionary income to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of life. 

God forbid if an emergency came up, and you know all emergencies come up at month end; someone is sick, house collapsed, gas imeisha, monkey's attacked the crops..., for me that was a death trap, every cent of mine was committed. 

A Prison of Bills

I just felt like I was in a prison of bills, and I didn't know how to get out. I wasn't excited anymore to get paid, what difference did it make, it was all gonna be over in an hour after I was done settling my expenses. Money felt like an enemy, either I didn't have it or it wasn't enough, I hated this place I was.

We all have ingrained relationships with money. Mine came from an upbringing that was led by "Hakuna pesa" 😂😂. So to me, getting money meant that I could finally have all the things I ever wanted, saving was a word I heard in English class, investing was a perfect stranger to me and that's about it. From 2014 when I started working, I spent all my money to fund my lifestyle.

Also Read: Where Do I Keep my savings? The 7 Main Places to Put Your Savings

…and Wastage

My greatest weakness was new houses, I would move into the newest, modern house in the places I lived. I broke the record twice by moving to a house where I slept for only one night and moved out and another where I spent only one month. 

I lost so much money in deposits, service charge, damages and transport charges, buying and selling furniture because some could not fit in some of the houses. 

To date I have moved to 13 houses within 7yrs 😂 😂 😂. I need a Guinness award or something. Of course the houses were way above my pay grade, my county betrays me.

Breaking the Cycle

Financial maturity is great, I have since learned that a paycheck alone cannot sustain a person. Multiple streams of income are a lifesaver, save even if it's Ksh50, it is money that you will long to have when in need. 

Getting financial literacy from books and experts will give you wisdom. Invest your money in assets but most especially in things you understand. 

Avoid online money scams like a man who is not interested in you - those things will develop your character, get rich schemes will take you nowhere. 

Above all I have learnt that whether you make, have money or not, God provides. There was a time I was jobless for over seven months, did I die? 😂 😂

Keep pushing, we all start somewhere. 

Owoko is a writer, a customer care professional and the author of ''If Paycheck to Paycheck Was A Person'' . A Kenyan native, she is a lover of reading, cooking and socialising. You can connect with her here on LinkedIn.

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