Insights: The thin line between being poor and broke

A friend once told me that if he could only get God’s phone number, or if he would know of his whereabouts, he would humbly and politely beg him to shorten the days of the month by half.

A friend once told me that if he could only get God’s phone number, or if he would know of his whereabouts, he would humbly and politely beg him to shorten the days of the month by half.

To him, 15 days are what it takes to exhaust his pay check and he blames this on the cost of living in Kigali. Later, I discovered that it was not the length of the month, but his lifestyle that was causing him sleepless nights.

When people first come to Kigali, what they hear whispered or shouted are the high cost of commodities. Those who have been here a while, will tell you that you cannot survive on a six digit salary even if you try. Well it is not hard to survive here because of the cost of living, it is poor planning and bad spending habits.

Having interacted with many people about money issues, I must say that everywhere you go, there is at least one person claiming to be broke all the time. You know the one’s; they never have enough money to pay their children’s school fees, house rent, and can’t afford to pay all their bills.

On one hand, they are complaining about how they had to borrow money to pay a bill or to eat, but on the other hand, after a few days, they are boosting about how they spent dime at the newly opened discotheque in town or how they spent the weekend at the beach in Gisenyi. At times, people put on a “poor me” attitude when actually they seem to be doing better than most.

George Magula, a writer, says that last year, for various reasons, he gave up his second job. He knew it would make things a bit tight, but with careful planning, and thinking before spending, he says he is not doing too badly.

He made some changes in lifestyle, and he has more in the pipeline. He is not well off, but he thinks he is in the great scheme of things, life isn’t bad.

People have different definitions of being broke. Rutayisire says he always looked at it the other way around and felt that the definition of being ‘not broke’ was when after a serious outing, a waiter brings to his table a bill “facture” and you don’t panic,- in other words, that you know all the bills can be paid on the spot.

I used to work with a guy who would spends several hours every week telling me how little money he has and then in the next breath says that he’s just bought a new 42” plasma screen Tv (he currently has 4 TV’s in his house - where only 2 people live!).

I guess my point is that each of us has a different definition of being “broke”. Are you really broke just because you couldn’t pay your bills because you threw all you money away on things you thought mattered so much??? NO! You are just being irresponsible and need to learn to manage your money!

 

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