In last week’s post (The Main Obstacle to Success), I shared an experience that revealed my hidden money blocks and how I got over them. Since financial success is core to any business, it’s important that you too identify your money blocks and eliminate the ones that are holding you and your business back.

Over the next 4 weeks, I’ll share a series of articles on women and money. These articles were first posted in my former blog (Better Life and Love) in 2013. The series will close with an interview with Lisa Muthoni one of the top 50 accredited insurance agents in Kenya. Now let’s dive into today’s article…

Human beings have interesting relationships with money. For most people, there is never enough money no matter how much they earn or receive; and their money habits make the situation worse.

It’s also not easy to find people who say, “I have enough money and don’t need to work for money anymore”; and for this group, achieving their money goals simply means creating even bigger goals.

All the people I’ve met who want to start a business or have a business aim to be rich. The concept of wealth means different things to different people, but everyone understands how important money is and what it can do for them. We also all understand just how limiting lack of money can be.

What most new business owners don’t understand is the fact that your personal money habits will easily translate into your business money habits. Here’s how it looks like:

  • If you spend your personal income frivolously, you will spend your business income frivolously.
  • If you’re stingy with your money, you will be stingy in your business (even when it comes to paying for things that need to be paid for urgently).
  • If you’re careful with your money, plan for it and follow your plan, you will do the same with your business income.
  • If you and your partner are always fighting about money, guess what will happen when your business becomes successful or needs extra cash injection? Yes, the personal fights will spill over into the business!

That is why it’s important for you to figure out your money ‘stuff’ and get it in order before it gets in the way of business success.

Let’s talk about money

The holiday season is coming up and nothing holds as much importance in Kenya during this season as money or lack of it. For some, especially those living in urban areas, December is the time to go back to the rural areas and flout their wealth (big cars, new clothes, loads of money to buy drinks for the locals…). For others, this is a time to party and get rid of all the stress that’s been accumulated during the year. Others go on holiday and the coastal town of Mombasa sees an influx of “watu wa bara” or “people from upcountry” as the coastal people call the visitors.

Whatever activities one chooses to partake during this season, we can comfortably say that a lot of money is spent, sometimes without thinking about the upcoming rents, school fees or surviving the cash-dry month of January.

As the holiday season comes closer, have you already planned for your money? What is your plan for holiday spending? How will you spend or save money this season? Are you and your spouse planning together or is one of you falling into the other’s plans (sometimes with resentment)? And if you and your spouse cannot agree on how to save, what responsibility have you taken about the money you bring into the family? It’s easy to blame the other person, but the reality is that by not taking a stand on the money you earn, you are making a decision to let someone else take care of it in their own way…so you shouldn’t complain about it!

While money happens to be one of the main causes of friction in relationships and marriage, it also happens to be a taboo topic that people don’t like discussing or sharing. The main topics on prime-time radio lean towards infidelity, relationships, what is going wrong with society, but not much about money and how to handle it.

Isn’t it time then that you made a difference in your life and did something different with your money before the festive season this year? Isn’t it time you took charge of your money so that at the beginning of next year, you’ll have a reason to smile instead of having a reason to run to the SACCO requesting for emergency and school fees loans or being among the first to ask the bank for a personal loan that carries hefty interest?

It takes time to get into the rhythm of good money habits so the sooner you start taking care of your money, the easier it will be for you to spend wisely at the end of the year.

How do you take charge of your money?

The first step is to identify your money blocks – the beliefs, attitudes and habits you have about money. To do this, answer the following questions as accurately as you can:

  1. What are the common beliefs you have about money? What have you learnt when growing up (from parents, relatives, friends, colleagues, the community you live in, church, etc)? Has this information helped you become a better money manager or has it made you worse?
  2. How have you handled money in the past and how are you handling it today?
  3. If you were to lose your main source of income today, would you be able to survive at the same level for 6 to 12 months? (this is a painful question, especially for women who rely on their partners for financial support…)
  4. If you were to continue spending money at the rate that you do today, how much money will have slipped through your fingers (and into someone else’s pocket or bank account) within the next 5 years?
  5. If you’re employed, what have you done with the salary increments and bonuses you’ve received over the years?
  6. Whose advice have you followed in the past when it comes to money and how has this worked for you? Are these people themselves experts in increasing their net worth or are they struggling?
  7. How many chamas (investment clubs) are you involved in and how have they helped you increase (or decrease) your net worth?
  8. How many businesses have you started and dropped (or failed in) within the last 5 years?
  9. How many businesses have been successful in that are still running?
  10. What is your current net worth (sum of your savings and investments minus your debts and expenses)? Use this calculator to get an accurate figure. For more information on personal financial statements, read this article.
  11. Do you know where your money is and how much it is worth right now (savings, investments, insurance, property, etc)?
  12. Do you have financial goals that you’re working towards?
  13. Are you aware of ways that you can increase your money’s worth legally and in a way that is comfortable to you? (financial education)
  14. What are you going to do to improve your money situation, starting this month?

If you’re married, share this quiz with your partner. Each of you can answer these questions on their own and then compare your answers. Or you can answer them together and allow the responses to guide you into creating a new financial plan, including making changes about your holiday spending this year.

Before you do the quiz together with your partner, it would be useful to agree not to bash each other with the results or go down memory lane with accusations. See this as a new beginning and enjoy the process of learning new skills together.

What next?

This quiz will reveal your true relationship with money. You will have a clearer picture of your current money situation and what you have done to improve or make it worse. With this information you are then ready to make changes on how you handle money and thereby create a better and brighter future.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share what I have learnt about handling money and some of the steps I took to become more financial savvy. I’m not a financial expert, but I’ve learnt how to get a grip of my finances through courses; trial and error; advice from financially savvy friends and relatives; being a member of chamas; and with the help of financial and personal development experts. As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20” and while I don’t regret my life, I do wish I had this kind of information years ago when I was a salaried employee and before I started my first business!

How about you? What has been your experience with money and how have you taken charge of it? Share with us in the Comments section below.

Image credit:  iosphere at www.freedigitalphotos.net

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You can read the other articles in this series here:

Part 2: How to Figure Out Your Money Leaks

Part 3: How to Create a Budget That Works

Part 4: Women, Money and Relationships


Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo created her dream business and ran it as a solopreneur for 6 years. She then teamed up with 2 other coaches and formed Biashara 360 where she is now the Head of Coaching. As a Business Coach, she's been helping professionals start and grow successful businesses while reducing the time they spend working. You can find out more about her work at www.biasharathreesixty.com.