Maggie Ireri is a researcher and Managing Director of TIFA (Trends and Insights for Africa) Research Limited and a Director of sports marketing company Frontiers Sport & Entertainment.
Greatest financial milestone: In my early thirties, I made a decision to purchase a house in an area with middle income earners. I paid off the loan in less than six years. I learned that the most ideal real estate properties are medium valued. Such properties, if well maintained, will always have tenants, resulting in a positive and consistent cash flow. Many Kenyans though, want to purchase their dream houses in upmarket areas. Unfortunately, properties in such areas are very pricey.
Biggest money mistake: When I was younger, I got into the habit of using a credit card for obscure expenses. Then I started missing on payment dates. The interest accumulated and I could not make adequate payments. One day, I cut the credit card using a pair of scissors and eventually paid my debt. I have since learned that with credit cards, you can only start being cautious in your usage once you appreciate that credit companies primarily want to make money off you.
Making it as an employee and entrepreneur: Although entrepreneurship has an upper hand in wealth creation, not all of us are born to be entrepreneurs. This means that you must know how to create wealth in employment just as you would in entrepreneurship. As an employee, I learned that the secret to financial freedom is a consistent savings culture. It is highly essential that one gets into a monthly savings plan early. Once you build up your savings into large reserves, invest it in interest earning financial products. As an entrepreneur, I have learned that the secret to making money and building wealth is keeping your costs low and having an absolutely clear focus on sales. At certain times in entrepreneurship, though, you have to follow the mantra of building your own doors when opportunities don’t come knocking!
If I could go back in time: I started tracking my monthly income and expenditure using an excel worksheet about five years ago. I wish I had started doing this when I got my first job over fifteen years ago. Today, having a visual plan of my income and expenses has helped me make smart choices on money.
Saving method: I have a monthly standing order from my current account to a savings account. I accumulate money on the savings account for one year, then I make a decision on where to invest it.
Making money: One of the best ways to earn money is to become an expert in a specific area. You should acquire a skill that can make you money whether you are in employment or in entrepreneurship. Once you have the skill, build a strong personal brand that aligns with this skill set, and money will inevitably follow you.
The side hustle: It is important for women to set up businesses even while under employment. Look for businesses that require minimal supervision, or invest in technology so that you can still run your business and still be able to focus on your primary job. Nonetheless, when you decide to take the side hustle route, you must take care so that your business doesn’t come into competition with your employer.
This feature was first published in the Saturday Magazine.