Tough Money Lessons Old Age Forced Us to Learn

  • A stock photo of a hardware shop.
    A stock photo of a hardware shop.
  • We get it, we are old guards. We are used to doing things the old way. My first born daughter told me that, so did my second-born son, and the last of all, the remaining apple of the eye who left for Canada for further studies one year, seven months ago.

    They say that a last born is special. It is not a lie. For parents, change is the hardest thing to accept, and while we agreed that our other two children were of age and had to leave, it was hard letting go of the youngest, because he was more a younger brother to me and my wife, a reminder of the swift feet that we lost in the battle with age.

    For two straight years, he was the money man if I might call him so, for every end of the week, he would unburden the safe and cart the money off to the bank for us, after which he would take 70 percent off the total amount and send it to the land broker whom we were paying for a piece somewhere.

    With him out of the picture, my wife and I were worried about how we would make the payments as religiously as he used to, and being a personal account, we could not trust anyone else to do it for us so we had to saddle the weight.

    A stock photo of a couple holding hands.
    A stock photo of a couple holding hands.

    It was always a painstaking journey, but she would do it every once in a while and return home complaining of aching joints and fatigue. I am not a good one either, because the bumpy road to the bank and back is a tough headache that I can live without, but the sacrifice is important.

    We do not have long, that is one fact that we have come to embrace with difficulty, and our children are the reason we are paying for the piece of land, as they all advised us to consider moving on to another neighbourhood where my wife and I visited and fell in love with.

    It is a lush patch of grass, a hill not too far away, there is a river towards the end of the property, and there are not too many people. The space there would be perfect to age and enjoy the last years of our life away from this gruelling work.

    It is in this spirit that I boarded a matatu four months ago to make the payments knowing that we still had 8 months, 16 more visits to the bank then boom, I saw a Cooperative Bank tent outside one of the plazas on the way to town.

    I had read about oases but didn't know how it felt, because the insanity that befell me as I urged the conductor to stop the matatu was simply out of this world.

    "Maybe they will allow me to make the payment on the spot and cut my journey to town by one hour," I prayed, my fingers crossed as I headed towards the agents.

    They did not allow me to pay.

    I still needed to go to the bank, but the knowledge they gave me had me kicking myself all the way to town. I did not know that I could easily get a pay bill number and be making direct deposits into both my account and the broker's from the comfort of my phone at no additional cost.

    Digital Banking solutions offered by Co-operative Bank
    Digital Banking solutions offered by Co-operative Bank

    Neither did I know that as a Cooperative Bank customer who receives payments via Mpesa, I would qualify for the much-needed loans based on my business turnover if I was a beneficiary of the Coop Bank Lipa na Mpesa service. And just at the right time, the government gave a directive on cashless transactions. What a boon for us?

    Retirement is a real scary concept given that we've been working for over forty years and carved a niche in the hardware sector, but my wife and I are happy that in giving up this one great thing, we are bound to get another that will finally give us the great purpose we need.

    I believe the little one will have the lush hills to play in instead of running into wheelbarrows, bags of cement, paint cans and registers and all that mess that has been part of our lives for the past forty years.