To get in touch with me please email gatwiri@kelliemurungi.com

Last week, I was forced to withdraw most of the money in my #52WeekChallenge Lock Savings Account.

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On Friday last week, I had Kshs 35,213 saved. I was feeling really proud of myself because I was ahead on the challenge, having ticked off the crazy December weeks.

M M-Shwari balance before the tragic events that bring us here today

I am not under any obligation to share my finances on this blog, but I am writing this and the next couple of posts for two reasons:

1. We are in this together. When I last polled my Twitter followers about the challenge, 50% admitted to either being behind or having fallen off the wagon. It would be dishonest of me not to admit my weaknesses too, when this is about accountability.

2. I am not one of those personal finance writers that have their sh*t together to the last cent. I make mistakes, I lose money, I have debt, life happens etc. Sharing this is an important part of what keeps this blog authentic.

So what happened?

My phone screen broke 🙁 🙁 I kid you not. Last Sunday, at the airport on our way to vacation, with an antsy child (thanks for the delay Jambojet), I placed my phone on my lap to reach for her bag to retrieve a book to read together, and that small fall from my lap to the floor, which barely registered totally ruined my phone. At first I didn’t see the effect, but after 20 minutes, a purple spot appeared on the screen. By the time we got to Malindi 2 hours later, my phone was black. The liquid behind the screen broke and covered the entire screen.

Fixing it was going to cost me 18,000 shillings. My options were to either fix the phone, buy an inferior model for less money, or survive phone less until I could afford to replace it.

Now, 18,000 isn’t much money and ordinarily, I would just move a few things around to get the money to fix it, but a number of things had happened to my finances in July/August:

1. My car suffered a devastating accident. While the repairs were footed by the other person and therefore didn’t cost me much, for 6 weeks I did not have a car. My sister gave me her second car for a bit, but I mostly  had to use Uber and Taxify for my work commute. This tripled my commuting costs causing them to go over budget. It does not help that I have had to take it back for repairs that were not done well, so even this week I am car less.

2. Last year I made two major investments that forced me to take on a large amount of debt. I bought some farming land in Meru, that was on sale at a really good price. While I have comfortably serviced the debt so far, my big 2017 goal has been to accelerate the debt payments, with a goal to be done by end of 2018. In July, I cobbled together everything I had saved up and made my first big payment on it. Because I wanted to maximise on this payment, I emptied my savings accounts completely, including my child’s fees account.

3. I was headed on vacation. I had saved up and paid for most of it, but to maximise on my vacation experience, I channelled every extra coin I was going to have in August towards it – including the food we were not going to eat at home while on vacation 🙂

So as my phone broke, I only had enough money to get us through the month post vacation.

Yes. I said I am human.

What were my options?
1. Borrow from my emergency fund. My emergency fund is in form of a friendly credit facility (I will explain in the next post) that is secured on my savings. I usually reserve it for the really serious stuff like losing an income, car issues, school fees, or medical emergencies in the family. I didn’t consider this an emergency.

2. Break my #52WeekChallenge bank. This sucked because I was doing great, but I knew that if I borrowed from this account, I was sure to repay because I had a duty to be accountable to you guys.

That is how I ended up withdrawing some money from my M-shwari Lock Savings Account. The 12,000 shillings goes towards boosting my savings in my emergency account. I will explain why in the next post.

So what next?

1. I have printed a fresh #52WeekChallenge form, and as you can see, I really have quite a way to go.

The printer seems to be running out of ink!

2. I have set a target to be up to date by September. This means that I need to save an extra Kshs 11,000 in the next 6 or so weeks, an average of 2,000 bob a week. This will be tough to do from my spending budget, but I have in the past been able to save money by going on a spending diet. I also have my Merry Go Round, which throws 9,000 bob to me every 4 months. Usually I spend this money on shoes and clothes, but this year it has been going towards the #52Week Challenge.

Kazi kwangu! What hacks are you using to stay on track with the Challenge? Please share.

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About the Author

When I’m not here writing, I run Lattice Training, where we offer customized training solutions for businesses of all sizes, from startup entrepreneurs all the way to large corporations.
The aim of this blog is to simplify personal finance. I write about budgeting, personal finance, management and doing business in Kenya, in a way that everyone will understand.

If you have questions or would like to get in touch with me, leave your details on the form below, and I will get in touch. Thanks for reading.

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