When I was in boarding school, I tried saving by scattering money in inconspicuous places in my suitcase. The idea was to purposely forget which textbook I’d slipped the 5k note only to stumble upon it when it’s needed most, preferably by me and not a textbook borrower. But while the scheme worked for many of my friends, I personally faced a challenge that resulted from my impeccable memory retention abilities that were rarely replicated in my academics. With time I realized it all didn’t make much sense if one month into the term I could still memorize which page of the atlas had a 5k note and how much was in the Bible.
My first job after university was to supervise in my dad’s shoe shop. My remuneration was a daily wage of shs 10,000 that I occasionally supplemented by fleecing ignorant customers on a lucky day. It is quite hard to bank that money on a daily basis, but if you don’t come up with a decent saving scheme, you may fail to pay rent, more so if it’s remitted on a quarterly basis. It was during this time that the idea of a savings box was introduced to me. Not your fancy tinny piggy bank, but the basic wooden box that goes for not more than sh 1500. “Centenary” is how the vendor referred to his merchandise; a name that suggests a relationship with Centenary Bank’s previous description as a rural development depository institution.
Considering the price, I decided to give “Centenary” a shot. I’d heard stories from Sophia –the girl I worked with—of how she saved up to 120,000 in coins in under two months. I figured if this girl could save that much in coins and yet she didn’t earn half as much as I did, how much more could I save if I occasionally threw in five digit notes?
What Sophia forgot to mention though, is the self-discipline involved. In the first week alone, I saved up to shs 50,000. No coins, just notes. I did the math and the numbers were impressive. On my trajectory, I would have 200,000 at the end of the month, which would add up to 2.7 million at the end of the year. In two years I would have more than enough money to buy a 50 X 100 feet plot in one of Jomayi real estate cites and a couple of bags of cement for the foundation of my house.
However, what would vitiate my scheme was not the defective presumption that the next 107 weeks would be as fruitful as the first one, but my own indiscipline. After two weeks, I experienced a streak of brokenness that ended with the epiphany that I could actually escape my misery by simply relieving my savings box of one or two nails and grope for a note or two. But what was meant to be a onetime incident turned into a contagious habit to which my brother—with whom I shared a house—fell victim.
“I am going to return your money with interest.” Was always his response whenever I faced him up to his transgressions. I later bumped into a regular visitor who liked to refer to herself as my girlfriend crouching under my bed with a pen (which I presumed to have been used for a lever) in one hand a 10,000 note in the other. But while I was hoping for some signs of remorse, what I didn’t see coming was a nonchalant shrug accompanied with a reminder that I hadn’t given her transport.
Posted in Sunday Monitor