The first salary is always special for everyone. Nothing is as intriguing as the idea of finally making it to the list of salaried citizens. The very thought of getting a paycheck that you have worked hard for is so exciting! It is particularly special because it reminds you that you’ve just started out. But, most people don’t put much thought into how they spend their first pay. We interviewed three youngsters on this issue. Some used the money to buy designer watches for parents and loved ones, others used the money to go on trips while others used it to move out pf their parents’ houses. How did you spend yours?
Beatrice Mutoni, 24
As a student of finance, one of the vital lessons I picked was to always have multiple income streams, even if they all returned meagre earnings.
While at the university, I engaged in side hustles. I did so many promotions for several brands, and sold second hand clothes and e-books. As much as I was studying, I was also earning. It wasn’t much, but together with the pocket money I got from my parents, I was able to sustain myself.
After school, I had to give up the side hustles. Sadly, at my first job, I wasn’t paid for two months, so I opted out. Imagine going without pay for two months! I just couldn’t wait for my first salary.
When I was looking for job, the salary wasn’t too much of a concern since I knew I was fresh from school with no experience in the corporate world. My main goal was to get the necessary experience to help me in the next job hunt. I couldn’t turn down my employer’s request to have me on a Sh15,000 stipend. Luckily, I was later offered a fulltime job.
On December 23, 2019, a few hours to Christmas, I felt so elated that I was working and walking into a festive season loaded with cash.
I do not remember what I did with the money, but I am sure I spent it wisely. Immediately after I made the withdrawal, I wired Sh2,000 to my parents, paid my house rent that was Sh5,000, did my shopping worth Sh3,000 and was left with some small amount to live on until the next pay day.
This is my second year working for the same company and I can say that my eyes are now fully open. I have gained experience in accounts, sales and marketing, and I am also taking short courses related to my occupation. Additionally, I found a side hustle, because my needs keep ballooning. I have so far learnt to take pride in humble beginnings and work my way up, one step at a time, and to always save for a rainy day.
y work as an accountant has taught me to always budget for everything, including the uncertainties. And above all else, always have a plan. It will help you avoid overspending.
Taquin Mugezi, 25
I am born again, introverted and possess a deep love for nature. I worked very hard in my studies because Control and Instrumentation Engineering is a demanding course.
Then came the job hunt after graduating in 2019 from JKUAT. That was tough. I could not find internship. I sent numerous applications but received no reply from prospective employers. Then I learnt that whatever is taught in school had to be complemented with short courses on programming and coding. When I undertook the courses, my CV immediately looked better, and I began sending out application once again.
This time, I got some regret emails here and there. While that was discouraging, I chose to appreciate the process. Maybe the regrets were just computer generated, but who cares? At least I received them. Eventually, I was invited for an interview and secured a job as a graduate trainee. That was my lowest moment. The process was so unfriendly. Still, I smiled a lot.
Nine months later, my first paycheck came. I had expected to get at least Sh70,000, but I was in for a rude shock. I had joined the company midway through the month so I was entitled to less than half of my total pay. However, I was so excited about getting that first pay that I didn’t even mind the amount. I was happy that after all those months of job hunting and waiting, my prospects were finally beginning to look up.
When I walked into the finance office and was handed Sh8,000, I felt exhilarated. Even though it was a small amount, I felt good because I had earned it. At work, lunch was a privilege enjoyed only by those on a monthly salary. The thought that I could finally afford lunch at work was great. I had to treat myself to something good for once.
I had expected to be designing, developing, installing, managing and maintaining equipment at the firm, but I found myself mainly doing maintenance of the machines. I later learnt that to gain the necessary skills, I had to be proactive, ask questions and learn from those who were more experienced.
I sincerely cannot remember what I spent my first pay on, but my bus fare consumed most of it, given that I spent between Sh280 and Sh350 per day on transport. The amount I received wasn’t enough to change my lifestyle. Because I had no other source of income, I knew I couldn’t touch the money meant for fare because one wrong move could result in severe inconveniences. And, because I am introverted, I feared borrowing money from my family or friends. I wrote down a plan and stuck to it.
To-date, I still spend my income wisely, although I know I could have used that first pay more wisely. I could have saved in a Sacco or invested the little extra I had, because after that contract ended, I became really broke. It was terrible, but it taught me the importance of saving.
I have so far learnt to have a financial plan, however little your salary is. It just requires discipline. I draw more lessons from the Holy Book which teaches us to be generous givers. However, we should know when to draw the line. There are times when being too generous can cost you. The bible teaches us to be cheerful givers, but not to the extent where we end up lacking. The Book also teaches us to tithe so I practice that. I do not want to steal from God. I also know that I should never neglect my guardians, siblings, and everyone who’s helped scale the ladder.
Jesca Adema Burudi, 27
I am now a full time entrepreneur, selling both designer and second hand clothes on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp at Jadema Collections. I started the business this year after resigning from my office job. I also love fashion, modelling, good music and travelling, so I derive a lot of satisfaction from my current job because of the flexibility it offers and also because it complements my passion.
For two years, after graduating from Kenyatta University with a degree in journalism, I started looking for a job. I was so desperate that I resorted to hawking clothes in Kasarani and Mwiki estates in Nairobi. I however stopped after a short while, fearing that others would laugh at me, considering I had just graduated from a prestigious city university and had also been Bungoma’s representative at the Miss World Kenya competition.
When I got a job at a debt collection firm, I was so excited since it was my first formal job. I had hoped that with a journalism degree, the worst I would do was to be a customer care agent. I was wrong.
I earned a basic salary of Sh15,000 and commissions whenever I helped the company recover debts. On June 28, 2018, my first pay checked in. In that month and the next two, I only received the gross pay, and after deductions, I took home only Sh9,000. Despite that, I was so happy!
The first thing I did was to move out and rent a room for Sh4,000. After paying the deposit, I had Sh1,000 left, so I had to borrow from friends and family to survive that month. In retrospect, I realise that my move was so thoughtless. I couldn’t save anything.
After paying rent and doing my shopping, I had about Sh2,000 left, so I used Sh500 to buy skirts from Gikomba, which I sold to my colleagues. From the sales, I got enough money to push me through to end month. Selling clothes turned out to be more satisfying than collecting debts, and I enjoyed dressing my colleagues. When the debt recovery job became stressful for me, I resigned and concentrated on my clothes business, which I find so fulfilling.
Over the years, I have learnt the importance of having more than one source of income, investing and saving at the earliest convenience. My advice is, if you are comfortable living where you are, do not move out after getting your first job until you’re sure you can pay the rent on time. Also, save, invest and live within your means, or else you will live from hand to mouth.
Valarie Akello Yogo
Financial expert and bank assurance officer
“Regardless of the company or the amount one is entitled to, the first paycheck is always magical. But, no matter how handsome it is, this is not the money to use to settle debts. It should be used to do some little investments, such as a wardrobe upgrade. It is also important to send your parents a percentage of the income as a show of gratitude for the sacrifices they made to get you where you are, and also to get their much-treasured blessings. To youngsters, money can be so sweet, but always remember that family comes first.
The second sober decision I’d advise is to start saving at the earliest convenience. It is never too early to invest. Join a Sacco. This way, the money you save can earn an interest of up to 13 per cent annually. It also triples your capacity to borrow. Sacco membership is one avenue that will allow you to invest and buy property at relatively low prices.
But, don’t rush into buying bonds and shares. Such ventures are only suitable for individuals with millions lying idle in their accounts.
Your first salary is highly significant. You will always peg your financial growth against it, so here is how you can invest wisely despite the fact that you are an entry level employee: If you have only one stream of income, get a savings plan and put a specific, time bound target. Since you won’t be earning much, choose your savings account wisely.
You can go for an account where your money will gain interest over time.
Secondly, consider adjusting your lifestyle, and that means cutting costs by striking out luxurious wants from your priority list. If possible, find a side hustle to boost your income so that you don’t have to depend on 12 payments a year.