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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Vincent Kamau: What I learned after buying a plot using a loan

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Vincent Kamau is a Nairobi-based independent financial specialist involved in performing management accounting and analysis, internal audit, forensic audit, and compliance.

I made it by being patient and waiting for my right time. I remember when I started out in finance, I was eager to take on bigger roles and have my own specialties. But my seniors told me to stop trying to jump the gun and follow the process. Learn to crawl before you can run to walk or run. This paid off. In January 2019 and 2020 when new accounting models came up, I was among the highly ranked developers of the IFRS 9 and IFRS 16 Models. It is important to be aware of emerging issues in your profession, to learn without taking shortcuts, and to heed the wisdom of your seniors and mentors.

Despite being in the field of finance, I have made some financial choices out of fear and pressure. Some of these decisions have turned out to be very costly. In 2012 for example, I purchased a piece of land on loan just because my friends were purchasing land. It only took my next paycheck to realize the kind of mistake I had made. I could barely sustain my life, and had to live from hand to mouth. Buying a plot using a loan taught me that we do not have the same financial muscles. It also made me aware that financial decisions should be dependent on need rather than herd mentality.

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Apart from money losses, I have also suffered some lifestyle losses. At one point in my life, I became a workaholic. I would record up to 19 hours of nonstop work per day. In 2016, things started to go south. Due to work pressure and the immense day to day stressors, I was diagnosed with critical irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). My ulcers deteriorated from bad to worse. I was off work for more than three months, and within that period, I generally lost all that I had worked so hard to build. In my recovery, I realized that my body is not a machine. I must nourish and take care of it.

I am risk averse and as such I like to spread my risk. I am not the person to have money seating idle in my bank account. My biggest reward has been on stocks and bond purchases. Always with very minimal risk even when the country ratings drop.  I realized that if I save Sh. 5,000 every month in my bank account, I will have saved Sh. 60,000 by the end of the year. But, if I buy bonds worth the same amount, I will have Sh. 66,000.

Earlier on in my career, I lost and embarrassed myself a lot. I applied for jobs that never came through. But I never quit. I knew I had the talent to succeed but I didn’t have the gut to fail. To get something you never had, you must do something you never did. The chances you take, the mentors and people you meet, the faith that you have, is what defines you! Be prepared for rejection and always know that money is not everything.

There are also times when I have hit rock bottom financially and emotionally. I know what it feels to be at that position where you see no hope. I have experienced it all. But if I could start all over again, I would use the darkest points of my life to mold a better version of myself. Focus more and anticipate better. Set goals and actually work to achieve them without postponing or creating excuses. Buying a plot using a loan.

This feature was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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