The saving culture among Kenyan youth seems to be deteriorating at an alarming rate. Most youth admit to not being able to save money, attributing this to the high cost of living in the country.
According to young people that we spoke to, saving to invest in real estate and eventually have a home in future seems to be an impossible phenomenon.
Three out of a group of five youth that we interviewed claimed that Kenya's economy was too steep to be able to meet their daily needs and save simultaneously. When asked about their future plans, most said that they would cross the bridge when they get there, hinting at the possibility of taking a loan to help them get a home and settle down.
Mr Fred Kadidi, a local shopkeeper in Kasarani area, says that he makes enough money to meet his needs. When questioned about whether or not he puts some aside, this is what he had to say:
"I am a bachelor and because of that, I cannot say that my expenses are very high. Once I pay my rent and do my house shopping, the bulk of my expenses are covered. I am left with enough money to indulge in a few comforts. With the money remaining, I put it aside to buy things that I have my eyes on."
When it comes to investing in his future home however, Mr Kadidi admits that he has not started saving for that yet.
"I have thought of where I would like to live and the home I want to buy but I cannot say I have started saving towards that goal. Buying a home is usually at the back of my mind but I have not actively started saving towards that goal," says Mr Kadidi.
The Global Financial Inclusion Database (Findex) released by the World Bank in 2014 shows that the youth are 33 per cent less likely to own a savings account, compared to adults.
This means that the percentage of youth practicing a saving is considerably low. However, Mr Brian Rono, a personal financial adviser at Cytonn Investments, opines that it is possible for young people to save money.
"I do not believe that taking loans is the answer to everything. It is possible to save towards buying a piece of land to construct your home in or even buying a completed home without committing your-self to a steep loan that will take years to offset. The mentality that one cannot achieve this without a loan should be changed."
Mr Rono emphasises that for someone to save, they need to have a goal of something they want to achieve. This could be the possibility of achieving a certain amount of money in a certain period of time.
"Most young people do not have a clear saving goal. This leads to lack of motivation among them to begin the process of saving. It is impossible to save money for which you have no purpose for. If you are saving towards buying a house for example, you can research on the approximate costs so that you have the amount you want to achieve."
He adds that the saving goals could be short term or long term. In this case, saving for a home will fall into the long term category. Once a goal has been set, here are some of the tips he offers on how to wisely save money:
Joining a Sacco
Mr Rono suggests that joining a Sacco (Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisation) works more in one's favour when saving money.
"When compared to banks, Saccos have better returns on savings. This means that the money deposited in the Sacco will have a higher interest growth rate as compared to money deposited in a bank," notes the financial adviser.
He adds that chances of a Sacco making a loss are minimal compared to the banks. "We have been witness to banks closing down after being declared insolvent, or cases of grand theft which leave people concerned on the safety of their money. With Saccos, such stories are rare, meaning that the members' money remains intact," says Mr Rono.
The good thing with a Sacco, he says, is that in case of an emergency, it can offer you up to three or four times of the deposit you have saved with them as a loan to help you deal with the pressing need.
Joining a savings group (Chama)
"It is possible to get a group of people you trust who will hold you accountable for saving a certain amount of money every month. This is usually the case with Chamas," advises Mr Rono.
A Chama is a group of people committed to contributing money towards a common goal, like investments. While Mr Rono agrees that joining a Chama can help in saving money, he warns against joining one that seems unstable.
"If you are to join a Chama, ensure you join one that has a reputation of having trustworthy members. Money is sensitive and cannot be entrusted to just anyone," he advises.
He emphasises that the money collected within the Chama should be directed towards a proper channel of saving such as a Sacco or a bank, rather than being entrusted in one person's care.
"The Chama you join should have a plan on how the money contributed is managed. If the money is deposited to a channel such as a Sacco, it makes it easier for the group to account for how much has been saved," says Mr Rono. Added to that, the money will accrue interest instead of remaining dormant.
Making an investment
In the given economy, young people are encouraged to look at investments as a way of saving money rather than simply depositing the money into a bank account and forgetting about it.
"It is easy to deposit money into a savings account and forget about it. However, what people fail to realise is that simply depositing money in the bank will not necessarily take into account the economy's inflation. This means that sometimes, the inflation rate in the economy could be higher than the interest rate the money is gaining in the account and in a sense, it is not gaining profit at all," advises Mr Rono.
On the other hand, taking an amount of money and making a wise investment with it may yield better returns in the long run, he observes. While it is not practical to assume that a young person can have millions to invest in real estate, there are ventures they can opt for that will work within their budget.
"A good example of such an investment would be with the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). This enables people to be able to invest in the real estate market and get a stake for investment amounts as low as Sh6,000, subject to how the REIT is structured. Such trusts come in handy for low income people who are able to invest their money and get returns from it."
Using the check off system
Discipline is paramount if one wants to succeed in saving their money, notes the financial adviser, adding that the major mistake made by the youth is saving money after exhausting all their financial demands.
"It is important to have a standard percentage of your money that is committed to being put aside as savings per month. It is recommended that one saves between 15-20% of what they earn," notes the financial adviser.
Those that have a stable income and are not disciplined enough to save can opt for the check off or standoff method, he offers. This is a system whereby a Sacco or bank works with one's employer to apply deduction of a certain amount of money from a person's wages and directly into their deposit account.
This means that one can spend the amount they receive later freely since they have already saved a percentage of their money.
While speaking to a local TV station, however, Programs and Communications Manager at Centonomy, Waithaka Gatumia, dismissed the idea of saving a standard amount of money saying that a flat rate of saving cannot be applied to everyone. "Our lives are different. We each have different family dynamics and needs," says Mr Waithaka.
He adds that someone living with their parents and have no costs such as rent and food, and provision for a family has no reason not to save up to 100% of what they earn.
However, someone else who earns very little money will not be able to put aside a large percentage of money and commit it to saving as they will then, not be able to meet their basic needs. He recommends that everyone should save as much as they can in alignment with their goals.
Mr Rono concludes by emphasising that it is important that the saving culture be introduced to people at a young age. This will make it a habit that remains even in adulthood, thus creating a generation of more responsible individuals when it comes to money and its use.
"Many young people have the misguided mentality that they will start saving when they are older or when they get a job earning them a 'stable income'. What they fail to realise is that the earlier one begins to save for things such as their future homes, the better it will be for them. One avoids being tangled in the ropes of mortgages and so on."
Choosing the correct mower for your lawn
Beautiful gardens do not just happen, they are created by carefully tending the grass and trimming the hedges so that they are at their best. Though mowing a lawn seems simple enough, it pays to invest in the right tools for the job.
There are different kinds of lawnmowers available in shops and depending on your individual needs, there will always be an appropriate one.
Walk Behind Lawnmowers
These are the most commonly used lawnmowers and are either push or self-propelled. In case of a Push lawnmower, the operator stands behind and pushes the equipment whereas the self-propelled the operator's job is simply to guide the machine. Walk behind mowers come in a variety of sizes de-pending on the acreage of your garden and how much money you wish to spend.
For a typical town house backyard garden, the basic 3.5 horsepower is most appropriate. This is small, simple to operate, pocket friendly and easy to maintain. For bigger gardens, it is wiser to invest in a 6 horsepower or more.
Most mowers have inbuilt grass collectors either in canvas, or plastic for people not wishing to rake the lawn after mowing. They also have height adjuster so that you can cut grass to your desired height.
The quality of a mower is determined by the deck on which the engine sits. These come in a choice of aluminium, alloy, or cast iron decks which last longer and do not rust from the wet grass.
Some models have self-cleaning nozzles and higher rear wheels making them easier to move on thick grass.
Ride on Mowers
Ride on mowers are most suitable for big gardens, golf courses, school fields, play grounds and ranches. As the name suggests, the rider sits on the mower so it is less tiring to the operator and has the advantage of speed so it can mow a large area in a short time. They are available in several sizes with different specifications.
Brush cutters are powered garden tools used to trim hedges, small trees, long grass and foliage not accessible by a lawnmower. Various blades, or trimmer heads can be attached to the machine for specific applications.
The base range is the 2hp engine which is adequate for domestic use while the more powerful 3hp engine is ideal for commercial purposes. These are light to carry and operate with the main advantage of ergonomic design which makes them easy to manoeuvre.