EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is part of our Money254 Partner Series produced in partnership with Absa Bank Kenya to celebrate the launch of their new digital savings account. For more on Absa’s new digital savings account, read here.
Time flies! Doesn't it? It sounds like a cliche, but it’s undeniably true. Can you believe we’re already halfway through the year?
Just like most of you, I began this month by filing my returns - I mean who has the spare cash for a KRA penalty with this economy? While at it, I took a moment to reassess my goals for 2023.
Back in January, I set an ambitious goal for myself: to purchase a Nissan Note, priced at around Ksh800,000 by mid this year. You see, I work as an assistant sales manager for a real estate company, and I know having a reliable vehicle like a Nissan Note will up my game and help me stack those commission checks.
Plus, at 27, I can see that the third floor is approaching really fast, and I want to be financially independent before I bring my first kid into this world.
Now, you might be wondering how on earth I planned to save Ksh800,000 in six months on an assistant sales manager’s salary. Well, here’s the exciting part - I didn’t have to come up with the entire amount upfront.
Through a financing option, I could secure the Nissan Note with a down payment of Ksh300,000. With this in mind, my mission was clear: save Ksh50,000 per month for six months.
Alright, let’s talk salary and budgeting. After working with my current employer for a solid four years, I have managed to negotiate a gross salary of Ksh120,000. But, you know how it goes - taxes and stuff leave me with a takeaway of Ksh87,100.
This means I had to get really creative if I was to achieve my goal. I followed this rule called 50:30:20. Basically, it’s a budgeting strategy that helps me allocate my hard-earned cash wisely.
The rule is simple: half of my salary goes towards essential expenses like rent, transportation, groceries, and bills-you know, the boring but necessary things. The next 30% is my treat fund, allowing me to indulge in the fun stuff, like satisfying my never-ending wanderlust. Then 20% is set aside for savings.
However, I decided to tweak the rule to fit my unique needs. Instead of following it strictly, I allocated 20% to my wants and reserved 30% for my car fund. To make this work, I had to find creative solutions. I bade farewell to the pricey gym membership and embraced energizing at-home workouts. Dining out became a rare treat as I discovered the joys of cooking my own meals. And socializing took on a cozy twist as I found contentment in spending more time indoors. I must admit, this newfound journey of adulting has been quite an adventure.
With my customized approach, I successfully allocated 30% of my salary –which amounts to Ksh 30,000 – towards my car fund. And I made sure to prioritize paying myself first before allocating funds elsewhere.
Now, to cover the remaining Ksh20,000, I was going to tap into the proceeds of my side hustles. I own a one-bedroom Airbnb along Thika Road. I embarked on this gig back in May last year, not entirely sure if it would pay off.
But let me tell you, it's been gaining momentum and proving its worth. So, any extra cash I make from this side hustle - after paying rent, housekeeping and utilities like electricity and internet; and buying a few things for running the house - goes straight towards my savings kitty.
After setting my goal, the next thing I did was to open a savings account to keep up with my quest. It was crucial to find a platform that offered competitive interest rates, zero withdrawal, maintenance, and statement fees, as well as seamless digital account management.
After thorough research, I came across the Absa Digital Savings Account, which proved to be a remarkable choice. It met all my requirements and offered some extra advantages as well.
With my salary serving as a reliable source, attaining Ksh 30,000 seemed like a feasible target, granted that I maintained my employment. However, the world of entrepreneurship and the unpredictable nature of Airbnb posed a different challenge.
It’s a business where customers can fluctuate wildly. One month can be filled with back-to-back bookings, while the next you might witness a sparse stream of guests.
Nonetheless, I diligently observed each reservation made for my Airbnb, as every booking propelled me closer to my goal. The months of January, February, and March progressed smoothly, allowing me to set aside Ksh 50,000 per month towards my savings.
But it was April that introduced an unexpected twist.
The memories of that day remain etched in my mind with remarkable clarity. It was the first Sunday of the month, the 2nd day of April. Bathed in warm sunlight, I adorned a flowing, earth-kitenge dress while my neatly organized braids completed the look. It was youth week, and I had the honour of leading the service at church.
Following the conclusion of the service, I joined my fellow youth members in the church parlour, savouring tea and snacks. Unlike my usual practice of switching off my phone during meetings and church gatherings, I kept it on.
You see, a guest had booked a stay for that very evening, and I had arranged for a cleaning lady to prepare the place for their arrival.
Then, my phone buzzed, a message from the cleaning lady lighting up the screen: “Nipigie sahii.” My curiosity piqued.
Why the urgency and why was she being so vague? I have worked with my cleaning lady, Mama Joy, for over a year now. I like how articulate she is with her communication. If she needs soap she will just text you “there is no soap” or “ I’m done cleaning”. It’s one of the many things I like about her.
I excused myself and stepped inside the empty church, its walls offering solace and refuge. At this time there was nobody in the church.
“Kwani ulihamisha vitu? Hakuna kitu Jane,” her panicked voice echoed through the receiver.
Suddenly, the brightness of the day gave way to a strange darkness, despite the early hour. The events following this conversation blur in my memory, but the grim reality remained - I had fallen victim to a burglary at my cherished Airbnb.
With no boyfriend to turn to and my best friend unable to offer any solace at the time, I found myself at a crossroads. The following day, I couldn’t bring myself to go to work. Instead, I spent most of it huddled in bed, grappling with the aftermath of the incident.
The momentum of my Airbnb business had been steadily building, giving me a false sense of security that my emergency savings would never be needed for an unexpected setback. I had diligently kept Ksh 50,000 in my emergency fund, but this amount wouldn't be sufficient to revive my Airbnb venture. To revive it and cover the necessary expenses, I required around Ksh 150,000, considering I had already invested Ksh 300,000 initially.
Amidst my despair, I recognized the need to take swift action to reclaim my dreams.
That’s when I remembered the lifeline the Absa Digital Savings Account offers - an option to withdraw savings along with accrued interest in times of emergency. Without hesitation, I made the decision to withdraw Ksh 100,000 from my hard-earned savings, leaving me with a remaining balance of Ksh50,000 and some extra cash from the interest I had earned. At that time, Absa's savings account had an interest rate of 7%, which later increased to 9% in May.
As you can imagine it was a bittersweet moment as I withdrew the money I had saved diligently for my Nissan Note. It was not just a car; it represented my desire to enhance my financial standing. Yet, I reminded myself that life has a way of throwing unexpected challenges our way. The setback served as a reminder of the importance of financial preparedness and the value of having a safety net in place.
Despite the setbacks I faced, my determination to reach my savings target remained unwavering. April had arrived, leaving me feeling desperate with no savings and seemingly further away from my dream.
It was time to regroup and reassess my strategy, even though there were only three months left to achieve my goal. It was clear to me that relying on a single hustle wouldn’t be enough to cover the remaining amount.
In my early twenties, I had honed my skills in bridal and photography make-up. Back then, it was my lifeline that helped me survive on a meager intern stipend in Nairobi. Most of these gigs took place on weekends, which meant sacrificing my leisure time on Saturdays and occasionally missing Sunday services. However, the financial rewards were worth it.
Now, in this critical juncture, I realised it was time to revisit my makeup artistry roots. I reached out to my former clients, reconnecting with them, and even placed social media posts for make-up artist services.
For bridal make-up services, I priced Ksh7,000, while photography make-up I charged Ksh 5,000. Of course, I needed to invest in quality make-up supplies, which cost me Ksh 10,000 initially.
Throughout the months of April and May, I successfully completed three bridal make-up gigs and two photography make-up jobs, earning a total of Ksh 31,000. After deducting the costs of make-up supplies and transportation, I was left with Ksh 20,000.
As fate would have it, my Airbnb business began to thrive once again, generating Ksh10,000 in April and Ksh 25,000 profit May. I directed all this cash to my car savings fund.
Furthermore, I provided real estate brokerage services to a returning client, earning Ksh25,000. In total, adding my savings from my salary I have managed to save Ksh 175,000 leaving me with a remaining balance of Ksh 100,000.
Setting a financial goal is merely the first step on the path to realizing your dreams. However, achieving that goal also depends on finding the right financial partner.
As I embarked on this journey, the sheer number of banking options left me feeling overwhelmed. With countless banks spread across the nation, sifting through each one became a tedious task. Nonetheless, one feature remained paramount in my search: I wanted a digital savings account.
Until January 2023, I had never experienced the convenience of a digital savings account firsthand. However, the praises sung by my friends and colleagues about the advantages of digital savings accounts over traditional ones piqued my curiosity.
The thought of no cumbersome paperwork and the ability to manage my finances with just a few clicks was enticing. As someone who values banking on the go and having my financial resources at my fingertips, I was easily convinced.
After conducting thorough research, I decided to go with the Absa Digital Savings Account.
As I sit in the comfort of my modest one-bedroom apartment, contemplating my next move on this six-month finance goal, I’m compelled to be more practical. With just Ksh 100,000 remaining until I reach my goal of owning a Nissan Note.
To be honest, I have started contemplating postponing my dream of the Nissan Note by a year, just so that I can buy it in cash. Consider this, I already have Ksh175,000 that I have been saving to make the car deposit. I have already grown into a habit of saving Ksh30,000 savings from my salary, and my side hustles are bringing in an extra Ksh20,000 every month.
If I am to remain consistent for 12 months, I will have Ksh821,485 in May 2024 - enough to buy my Nissan Note in cash and fill it up to the full tank! Interestingly, Ksh46,485 of this money will be from the interest earned.
Amidst this financial journey, I have come to rediscover my passion for makeup artistry. Each new gig brings me joy, and I find myself falling in love with the art all over again. This experience has been a valuable lesson, reminding me of the significance of patience and unwavering determination when pursuing financial goals. Furthermore, it has highlighted the importance of having a dependable financial partner to support and guide me along the way.