Last week, I had the privilege of seeing the pay slip of a very close friend of mine. It was really by default and not design. I gave the friend a lift and somehow he forgot some of his papers in the car. When I reached home, I took everything out and mistook the papers for mine.
But when I perused through, I discovered the papers included a pay slip which wasnâ€™t mine. I was left mouth agape at how much my friend carts away home. â€˜Nzoona, mâ€™Malawi mommuno anthu akulandila chonchi?â€™(Do some people get paid as much in Malawi?).
Strangely, this friend has nothing really to show for the fat cheque. â€˜Koma akulu amene aja amapanga nazo chani ndalama zawo? Kukhwimira kapena? (What does he do with all the money? Practising witchcraft?) I soliloquised. But I realised earning money is one thing but knowing what to do with the money requires full lectures regardless of an individualâ€™s education levels.
This friend drinks his head off, drives poshy cars, and can hardly see a skirt pass by and let it go. He is so extravagant. At times he asks me to lend him money to pay school fees for his son.
This reminded me of the need to talk about the importance of a saving culture. You may not be like this well-paid friend of mine but trust me, you will one day smile for having saved some bit of your money.
If youâ€™re like most people, the thought of saving money conjures up thoughts of endless budgeting that denies you enjoying the fruits of your labour now. What if I asked you to challenge your perceptions about saving? Letâ€™s dissect some of the most popular thoughts many people have about saving.
Are you one of the “I could be dead tomorrow so spend today” group? While I donâ€™t have a crystal ball to predict your individual lifespan, I do know middle-income people are living longer now.
Ok, you may not be dead tomorrow, but you think you only earn enough to scrap through from one month to the next. So, how can you think about saving for the future? And besides, any amount you can spare is so small it canâ€™t possibly amount to anything, can it? Well, I must disagree. Actually, youâ€™d be surprised what saving small amounts can amount to over a period of time.
A good time to start saving is NOW. First of all, you can be sure that something is always going to come up that can prevent you from setting aside money. So first, you need to identify your opportunities for saving. Obviously, surplus money after expenses is a prime candidate. But changes to your spending habits may provide additional savings as well.
Second, the longer you wait to start saving, the more it will cost you in a big, big way. The one kwacha saved and invested today will be worth a lot more in 20 years than the kwacha saved a few years down the road.
Look at saving and investing as an exciting means of getting the most out of what you earn so that you can accomplish what you want. Whatever spending you deny yourself today will be there tomorrow when you most need it.
How to make the most use of the investment vehicles right there for you in Malawi is likely to be the subject in subsequent weeks.