What you learn is more important than what you earn

Recently, I read Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy in a bid to improve my copywriting skills and I stumbled on this phrase; “what you learn is more important than what you earn”. It struck a chord in my heart because my first job’s remuneration was pathetic.

Like most fresh graduates on the first official job, my experience is limited and there is no place than my income statement that clearly shows it. Er, except of course in the office where I am surrounded by professionals with half of my lifetime as experience. Basically, little experience and limited skill equals little bargaining power.

Though I must admit, when I was negotiating my remuneration the thought of a couple of hundred thousand shillings excited me. (It slipped my mind that those shillings must pay all my living expenses and fun too.) The moment the managing director mentioned the figure I eagerly agreed.

Reality bites into my wallet

A few months on the job, I realized that my income statement was nothing to write home about. Let alone send a stipend to my loved ones, and that is when the end-of-the-month gloom set in. Faced with the depressing reality that I have bills to pay and not enough money, I sank myself into debt. Yes, I sent out SOS to anyone who cared to listen and give.

It took me no time, to start earning a negative salary and to be in a borrowing cycle. By the last week of each month I was on my knees (literally begging God for a miracle).  And to add insult to injury, it seemed my friends and colleagues had lots of money to spend on life’s little luxuries- designer perfumes, new cars, custom made jewelry and trips around the world. The best trip I could give myself was from my office to my home!

My wallet fights back

But, I got out of debt by learning to live on what I earn and accepting my limitations. I started saving and making little investments. So when I stumbled on this book, as Oprah says it was an “Aha” moment. My focus had been wrong. I was consumed with amassing wealth What’s more you will get more kyeyo deals at better fees. (Yes, if you feel your employer doesn’t pay you enough moonlight! A quote from David Ogilvy.)

Too many fresh graduates are so focused on ‘living the life’ – partying hard, spending money on a whim and showing your swag.  Just because so and so has a fancy Toyota Rav 4 and you are on Rav 2, doesn’t mean anything!

Well, you would ask what about ambition and the multi-billionaires with Mercedes Benzes?  Those high flying people in business and the professional world are wealthy because they have a wealth of experience and skill. It also took these chaps years to amass this wealth. I choose to believe I will get there too by learning more.

A few tips to keep money in your pocket

Since reading Ogilvy on Advertising my eye is on what I can learn not what I earn.  My research on the internet and in financial books turned out these gems:

  1. 1.       Don’t spend on impulse: plan for whatever you need. It may seem cool to splurge but you’ll it regret when you have to walk home or miss lunch. Budget, budget!
  2. Save at least 10- 30% of your earnings. This is very painful for me, because everything seems more urgent so I raid the bank. I kicked this in the butt by getting a fixed deposit account and a standing order to ensure it goes into that account.
  3. Pay off your debts immediately. Another painful thing, it is so sweet to receive but payback ain’t nice.
  4.  Find a housemate. After years of living with your folks or relatives, I know it’s the last thing on your mind to stay with them longer. However, living with family can help you save some money till you are financially stable. Or you can get a housemate to share the rent. Sigh, still struggling with this one because am selfish when it comes to my personal space.
  5. Start a business. My best friend got this right she saw she didn’t need a lot of capital to start her snack business. Now she delivers snacks to her work colleagues every morning and makes quite a profit.
  6. Cut down on your outings. You don’t have to scrap it, just cut back. You don’t need to club like a fresher unleashed on humanity or drink like fish daily.
  7. Watch the little things. You would be amazed to see how much those tiny expenses amount to. I have soft spot for buying airtime daily because it is only 1,000 shillings and I adore muffins. However, I realized that this cost me as much as my rent at the end of the month.
  1. Set financial goals. This is my favourite, I love writing down my plans but struggle to execute them. Be real, write goals that are feasible
  2. Spend less than you earn. It sounds logical but it needs discipline. If you spend more than you earn, you don’t need to be a  financial guru to figure out that you will be broke.
  3. Be happy. Ok, I did not find this in a financial book I just discovered that if you stay positive , somehow good things come your way.

Above all, learn all you can, do all you can and earn as much as possible.
(These tips were adapted from www.studenomics.com and www.associatemoney.com)