Skewed Spending Habits

I’ve had a fruitful and impactful day doing work I love, having stimulating conversations and finally homing in. On the backdrop of this, there’s been a constant nudge on spending habits in the current times. For start, I thought it through in terms of the recent trends in consumer habits which based on a recent zoom session I took part in, we acknowledged that there’s a consistent trend towards consumerism. It didn’t start today and may not be coming to an end anytime soon. Unfortunately, with consumerism there’s little investment for the future which might be unpredictable as COVID-19 outbreak. As a follow up on this, in order to understand the translation of this, I reflected on the burden of mental health which is a topic that has been close to my heart for the last five (5) years. Gauging from the reports and some contributing factors which have implicated social media even as per the Mental Health Task Force Report that we discussed in one of our Health Round Up sessions here, I tend to acquit social media of the cost. Social media is just but a medium through which we display our consumerism tendencies which as an addiction has a positive reinforcing effect. It also happens to have a contagious attribute because people get influenced with much ease to adopt a trend in their environments even though they don’t understand why they do so. In this case consumerism is the vice.

In the recent years, our consumerism have also been a key contributor to market trends and investment decisions in some form. In 2020 alone, there were over 100 tour and travels companies registered in Kenya that I know of yet COVID-19 was here and travels were not permitted. Over the same period, there were at least two incidents of arrests in drinking dens per weekend in the country that were reported in the media. It’s reported that even with losses the entertainment industry was still able to stay afloat regardless of the COVID-19 disruption. This is due to the consumerism culture that we’ve embraced as a way of life.

Today in a discussion with a friend, we noted that there are chances that an individual can spend every weekend on entertainment but never buy even a single book. Binge watch Sitcom for an entire weekend and not even watch a single episode of a Masterclass or even a documentary. Why would this be the case? Because our focus shifted from delayed gratification to immediate and spontaneous fulfillment. We would rather spend all our money on fancy things in the moment and hope for a miracle tomorrow than be reasonable and spend with moderation to cater for a rainy day. This is also the very reason micro-finance loaning facilities have thrived in the recent past. My concern is on whether they are making any returns or it’s a money laundering scheme for I don’t understand how one would borrow money for non-essentials consistently and pay-up on time. It’s a worrying trend for me and I believe for anyone who cares to think this through. This is why I decided to pen this piece down to encourage you reading this piece to take time over the weekend to reflect on your spending habits and ask yourself whether it is in your best interest to spend as you do.

Should you find out that you’ve been on an unwise path, please consider refocusing and doing better. My major worry is that as young people most of us can’t put aside any money to invest in our personal development but can spend our school fees on drugs until we lose ourselves. We can fail to pay rent on time or even create emergencies to fleece parents of hard-earned money just to go for a road trip. What and where are our priorities? Take time to reflect on this. In the meantime, remember there’s only one life to live and while you live it, consider knowing whether you are living with hope or on hope. Living with hope translates to envisioning a better future and working towards it while you enjoy the moment. Living on hope is aspiring for a better future but doing nothing with an unrealistic expectation that it’ll materialize. Make a choice and a timely one for that matter.

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