Should I? An expert answers your key money questions

Florence Bett’s personal finance book “Should I?” [File]

Do I need to take out a loan to buy a car? Should I save or invest? Should I borrow money from my partner? How much should I send to my parents? What should I know before joining a Sacco? Should I hire a financial planner to manage my money? How much do I need to retire? These are some of the insightful questions that 37-year-old personal finance expert Florence Bett-Kinyatti answers in her three-part book, Should I?

What makes you think you should educate people about money?

As a small business owner, chartered accountant and former financial auditor (I worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for five years). I have practical experience with money.

That, plus my readers relate to what I write about money and even send me questions about their personal finance issues. It is these questions, plus a host of others – and my answers – that I capture in this book.

With so many personal finance books to choose from, why should I (see what I did there?) choose Should I?

On the one hand, the structure of the book is different. It is a three-part question and answer format. This way, you can access the book map (the table of contents), select a chapter you feel like, and run with it. This is neither a novel nor a love letter. This is not a book you start reading from scratch.

On the other hand, I drew heavily on my personal experiences and my engagements with my readers. I am honest with you in this book. Embarrassingly honest.

I also have, with the stories, sketched figures. I write about money; after all, decisions about money are weighed against the scale of numbers and emotions. All the stories will be for nothing if I don’t show you what I mean by calculating the numbers.

If it’s not a novel or a love letter, what would you compare it to?

A Bible. Keep it close to you, come back to it whenever you need guidance, master its wisdom, and never finish reading it.

You mentioned three parts. Please specify ?

The first section deals with issues relating to the management of personal money. The second, aptly titled The dynamics of love, sex and money, deals with money in relationships – within the family and in relationships. The third, How and where to grow your money, covers savings and investments.

What unconventional advice do you offer in the book?

Florence Bett [File]

When faced with the decision to take out a loan to buy furniture, maybe go on vacation, or borrow money from a mobile app to hold you over until your next payday, financial experts will tell you of a stern voice, forefinger raised in the air to warn: “Don’t do it.” Stay away from bad debts.

Good debt, they say, is when you put your money into something that will earn income or that you can liquidate to get your money back.

I no longer think along these simplistic lines of good and bad debt, neither as a personal finance expert nor as an individual. To me, debt is either manageable or unmanageable. If you can handle the financial and emotional cost of debt, take out the loan.

The financial cost is the measurable cost – the shillings and cents you will pay back in principal and interest.

The emotional cost is the immeasurable shift in negative and positive emotions brought on by debt. The positive emotional response is when you have money in the bank to pay off your debt when you are supposed to or the pot of negative emotions when there is not enough money in the account when the loan is of.

I am for loans. My personal mantra is that I should always service a loan. Always. My first thought when I think of a project is to take out a loan. And another. A loan in addition to another loan. A loan within a loan. Loan for all loans, the mother of loans.

Saving for retirement. What is the essence of this?

Retirement may seem a long way off because it has long been associated with old age. But that’s a mistake, because it negatively influences how we approach our finances when thinking about and planning for retirement.

Let’s start by unlearning some misconceptions, which will then inform your retirement investment decisions.

First, you don’t have to be 60 – Kenya’s legal retirement age – to retire. At sixty, how long can you live? Lord forbid if you are struggling with poor health.

Second, retirement doesn’t mean you stop working. You can retire and start a new professional life in a different industry, like I left financial auditing to retire into creative writing.

Nor does retirement mean that you stop saving and investing.

You can retire anywhere, it doesn’t have to be in the backcountry.

Do I need to take out a loan to buy a car?

You would have to read the book to find out. It sells for 1,399 shillings.

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