Many young people have been lured into spending beyond their means especially those in Boarding Schools. This situation has been made even worse by the ease and availability of telephone services (mobile phones, phone booths etc.) following the liberalization of the communication industry. Kids simply pick up a phone to call mom or dad to send more money.
All sorts of lies are peddled to get that money some kids literally call all their relatives, each one being fed a different lie. Excuses range from “my money was stolen” to “Auntie, mommy did not give one enough money”.
The levels of expenditure can put to shame some of the so called working class. Some parents leave behind as pocket money as much as Ugx 800,000. Well as it is expected of every parent to provide for their children in terms of up keep, there is a big difference between providence and extravagance. Kids need to be taught how to manage their finances and how to be accountable and responsible.
Many Ugandan parents do not even bother to inquire from their children how they spent the last allotment, but will simply top up.
There is a story that made the rounds in the recent past about a young man in one of the local secondary school who was causing inflation at the school canteen. For about two weeks, he would spend in the upwards of Ugx 50,000 per day on eats and drinks. He was turning into an Ivan Semwanga of sorts let loose on a Friday evening in Guvnor. Well this extravagance caught the interest of the school administrators and being the responsible teachers are they, they called the parents to inquire about the source of this sudden windfall. The parents were quickly summoned to school and on enquiring from the young man what his money source was was, he innocently responded“I picked it from that room where you keep money”. “How much?” inquired the father. “Four bundles”, came the reply (each was of 100, 20,000 notes, you can do the math)
One would have expected the parents to show some surprise but the teachers were left embarrassed when the dad simply retorted “Olulala ojaako ezimala, kati olaba bwonyononedde ebiseera” with which loosely translates “Next time just pick enough. Do you see how you’ve wasted my time”.
This is just one of many stories of how students get enormous stacks of cash to spend at school. The repercussions of these unchecked access to money has let many school goers doing everything and anything including stealing from fellow students to keep up appearance.
Here are a few tips on how to manage your finances better while at school.
1. Draw a mini budget.
Before going to the canteen list down the things that are absolutely essential and only spend just within that budget.
2. Do not spend just for the sake
I have heard groupies call themselves such boisterous names as big spenders, money bags, Ruperalia group to connote who spends more money than all others.
Don’t be tempted to simply throw away your money just to be counted. It is not worth it. There is a saying I have coined which says “Never take pride in spending, you’re always the loser”
3. Open up an account.
If you keep butter near fire, it will surely melt, likewise if you’re always hanging out near the canteen you may be urged to spend just to fit in. If you can’t resist the urge to spend, don’t keep money on you. Open up an electronic facility such as…. or open up an account with your warden, matron, school bursar or even a teacher you trust. I know of kids who withdraw money once per week, this has helped them spend better. Moreover you account keeper can help you plan your expenditure.
4. Learn to save
My 11 year old son, Axam wanted to buy his little brother Imran a present for his 10th birthday. My wife advised him to save half of all the money he received in a Piggie bank. Excited about growing his own account balance, Imran also asked for his own Piggie bank not to be left out. After 4 months or so of saving, they broke the adapter to the decoder. I refused to buy a new one for them and instead proposed to them that we break their banks to replace it. They both refused and when I inquire as to why they could not replace the adapter using their own money they said that they didn’t want to waste their money.
The moral of this story is that when you save money you begin to appreciate its value and to treat it with respect.
In all my adult life the one thing I’ve looked back upon with regret over my school days is the fact that no one ever talked to me about personal finance or money for the matter. It is therefore my personal mission to help as many your people in school to learn how to manage their finances better so as not to fall victim of the e falls that I had pitfalls that I had to extricate myself from time and again. I’ll sign off with one of my favourite quotes “If you do not change, you can become extinct” -Dr. Spencer Johnson. Author of who moved my cheese.
Bon chance and enjoy term 1, 2016 as you spend more wisely.
By Hajji Katantazi Siraj