By Michelle Wanjiku
Over the years, white collar jobs have been viewed as better than blue collar jobs. This is why as children we were told to study hard and become doctors, bankers, engineers, lawyers and more. No one ever tells their children to become bus drivers, conductors or manual laborers.
Most people thus think that if you get a good office job, you will become wealthy and if you work in manual labor you will never become wealthy.
For this reason, you will find yourself wondering how that mtumba seller managed to build a house while you are still struggling to pay rent?
Well, the answer is very simple, the way white collar workers handle their money is very different from how blue collar workers handle theirs
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Living within your means
Take, for example, a security guard working in Nairobi earning 10K a month. This person will look for a house where rent won’t be more than 3K. This person is not worried about what society thinks about him living in that house or in that neighborhood, in fact, it is expected.
Whereas, a graduate engineer earning a monthly salary of about 45K, due to his perceived ‘high-class status’ will rent a one bedroom house in a good neighborhood that costs him almost 15K because this is what society expects.
When it comes to saving the security guard is able to save more because he has very few expenses. If he is smart, he will join a SACCO or have some sort of savings plan. He won’t be spending his money on expensive food because he doesn’t mind eating at a ‘kiosk’
He has a plan to buy land in the village where land is cheaper and gain supplementary income from selling what he plants.
Meanwhile, the engineer is thinking about moving to a bigger house and buying a car. You can never find him buying food in a ‘kibanda’ because it is beneath him. So he spends hundreds of shillings daily on meals.
He is busy financing a lifestyle while the security guard is saving most of his earnings.
A few years later the security guard has been promoted and is earning 15K, he has bought the piece of land in the village which his wife is taking care of and selling the produce to supplement the family’s earnings.
The engineer has also been promoted, he now earns 100K. He has moved into a bigger house in a posh estate where rent is 50K and has still not come up with a way to supplement his earnings.
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He is still paying off the car loan and now wants to take a loan to buy a house. His children are attending expensive private schools as is expected.
Meanwhile, the security guard’s children are attending public school or just decent private school where he doesn’t pat through the nose which makes it easier for him to continue saving.
He keeps increasing the size of his piece of land and his earnings from the farm have grown. He can finally quit his job and become a full-time farmer because he is earning more from the farm than as a guard.
The engineer keeps getting promoted and earning more money but his expenses keep increasing. He has to take a huge loan to buy a house in Runda for his family which he will keep paying for after he retires.
In the end, the security guard becomes wealthier because he made smart financial decisions with the little money he was earning and won’t have to worry about retiring. The engineer though has no other source of income so he has to continue working if he wants to sustain his lifestyle.
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The moral of the story is you shouldn’t think that just because you have a well-paying job you will become wealthy, or because you don’t have a well-paying job you are doomed to a life of poverty. It’s not about what you are earning now but what you do with it.
Sure, the person working in an office has an advantage over the shoe cleaner or waiter but it doesn’t mean that they are the only ones who can become rich.