January is easily one of the toughest months for many Kenyans irrespective of their tribe, gender, or marital status. It’s even harder for those who don’t have control of their finances. Taking control of your finances is an ongoing process that involves having the intention to improve one’s financial health, planning the steps to take, and following through with it. Having the intention of improving oneself is the hardest part of the process because it means coming to terms with your weakness and having the courage to want to change that. We, humans, are a species that is extremely resistant to change. It’s something that we all struggle with even though the truth is that the only thing that remains constant in our lives is change.
This intention to change is what will mould our plans and how we follow through – It is our WHY. Knowing our WHY is what will allow us to take the leap forward to have our finances in control. Taking control of our finances starts with saving on a consistent basis. Saving challenges allow us to save money as an activity rather than just thinking of it as a transaction. There are many types of saving challenges and these include the 52-Week saving challenge, bi-weekly saving challenge, spare change challenge and little vices savings challenge. The focus of my post today is to highlight 4 reasons why I think you should sign up for a savings challenge and how it can help you take control of finances:
- They make it easy for you to save – Saving challenges are extremely effective because their rules are easy to digest and follow. There are a number of different types of challenges but and one of my favourite is The M-Shwari 52 Week Challenge letting you to save Ksh 68,900 in a year. The challenges are made to seem like fun games that we play with our money rather than the feeling of sacrifice that is usally associated with saving. Moreover, these challenges keep you accountable and send you reminders to save so you don’t have an excuse NOT to save.
- They help you save for something you want– If you are thinking of taking a trip or buying yourself a new phone or laptop, saving challenges can help you save for you at a much faster rate . For example, if you want to save for a new laptop, you know by the end of the challenge, you will be able to buy it and it spurs you to save more because there’s a purchase tied to it. Saving challenges help you build your saving muscle and builds the habit of saving consistently. This is important because as humans, we are not wired to save. We are poor savers, and only about 14% of people actually derive some pleasure from saving (just to clarify, I am not one of those people yet*).
- They cut out your frivolous spending – If you are an employed individual that has a consistent salary coming in at the end of the month then you have a rough idea of where your money goes once you get your hands on it. Once you begin a saving challenge, you are more aware of where your money goes and you’re less prone to spending in areas you don’t REALLY need to spend on. For example if you spend Ksh 5,000 every month on alcohol or cigarettes, you might decide to spend less this month and instead divert that expense to your savings challenge. This practice also teaches you to live on less, which is a great quality for anyone because it means you are able to keep your costs low. More importantly, you can better appreciate the things you already have. Less stuff, more love.
- Because if you don’t save for yourself, no one else will – Saving challenges help you save money. That sounds fairly easy to understand, right? That’s because it is! You’re saving money for yourself so that your future self can spend it on something important. We live in a short-term, instant-gratification, live-fast-die-young culture. In times when saving for retirement is a spoken about less than ideas such as artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, you know something has gone wrong with the education pushed down the throats of students and young adults. The truth of the matter is that unless you belong to an extremely wealthy family that will leave you a substantial inheritance, you need to save for yourself because no will give you anything and even if they do, great, but don’t expect that happen and you’ll lead a peaceful life. Take responsibility for your current and future self. Don’t let the “fun times” of today make your future-self dependent on anyone. I know this isn’t the most pleasant thought but it’s the truth and I feel morally obligated to talk about it.
Saving challenges are just the medium to save more. The message is more important than the medium, at least for me it is. So if you don’t want to sign up for a saving challenge, don’t but don’t ignore the reasons about why you need to save. I hope some of these reasons will make you think about saving a portion of your earnings on a consistent basis. Saving for the purpose of saving is a not a great strategy so find a strong WHY and orient your goals, habits to be in line with that WHY. 2020 is the year you take control of your finances, don’t let the days pass you by, do something about it.