I earn Sh27,000 and spend Sh26,700; should I change careers?


It is important to monitor expenses regularly to determine where the money goes.

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What you need to know:

  • Monitor your expenses regularly to determine where every shilling goes.
  • Scan your immediate environment and identify a problem that you can solve.

My name is Carol. I am 29 and single. I work as an accountant earning Sh27,000. My rent is Sh3,000, water and electricity Sh1,200, food and a supplementary budget for emergencies Sh10,000, personal care Sh10,000, transport Sh2,500.

I have a debt of Sh120,000 that I took to pay for my sibling’s vocational college fees. This debt is in default. I am not progressing in my career and I think this is because of AI.

I am considering quitting and changing to nursing. My plan is to go back to my parents and then go to nursing school, but I don’t know how to raise the fees, how long this would take, and if this is the right thing to do.

Am I too old? How do I manage my money so I can achieve all this?

Chacha Nyaigoti Bichang’a - a financial coach at Chachanomics Consulting Firm and the author of Mastering Your Money

Your total expenditure is Sh26,700 leaving you with a negligible balance of Sh300. This implies that you are living from hand to mouth with a net salary of Sh27,000.

That is why your debt of Sh120,000 is in default because you cannot repay it with your exhausted salary. To address your financial challenges, you need to do the following:

Review your financial situation. Re-examine how you spend your salary and identify what you can do to cut down on unnecessary expenditures.

For example, it is not clear how much exactly you spend on food and the supplementary budget for emergencies. The figure of Sh10,000 is perhaps a general estimate.

Monitor your expenses on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to determine where every shilling goes. Cut down your expenditure on personal care which consumes Sh10,000 (translating to 37 per cent of your salary).

You can save more than Sh5,000 a month. You can do hair that can last at least two months, buy cosmetics and other adornments in bulk once in three months and forgo other unnecessary related expenses.

Use the 50/30/20 budgeting guide. Spend 50 per cent (Sh13,500) on necessary expenses like rent, electricity, food, transport, then spend 30 per cent (Sh8,100) on emergencies and investment.

Lastly, spend 20 per cent (Sh5,400) on wants or unnecessary expenses that do not sustain your life on a day-to-day basis such as personal care, fashion and trends. But because you have a huge unpaid debt, you can forgo this and concentrate on repaying the loan.

Have a debt repayment strategy. Your unpaid debt of Sh120,000 requires you to make adjustments to your budget and squeeze on discretionary expenses or wants to get some money to start repaying the debt.

You can also channel the money meant for saving towards clearing the debt first then embark on a robust saving and investment scheme.

Set aside Sh10,000 every month to repay the loan and in 12 months you will have cleared it. You should know the difference between a good debt and a bad debt.

A good debt is able to repay itself but a bad one is financed from your salary and a different source of income.

It is not clear how much interest is charged for the loan you took to pay your sibling’s vocational college fees.

The debt itself is a liability. Make sure you save some money in an interest earning money market fund for such expenses.

Start a side hustle. To supplement your small income, scan your immediate environment and identify a problem that you can solve by providing an essential service.

Use your accounting skills to do part-time jobs like auditing for businesses, organisations and institutions at a modest fee.

Register an audit or accounting firm that offers accounting services. You can also do part-time teaching during your free time in various institutions that offer accounting courses and earn extra money that can enable you to repay your debt, save and invest more.

Set SMARTER financial goals. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. In terms of time, the goals should range from short-term (three to 12 months) to medium-term (two to five years) and long-term (five years and above).

One of the short-term goals include repaying the debt in one year. You can decide to save Sh5,000 in a money market fund and Sh5,000 in a Sacco in a span of two years once you have cleared the outstanding debt.

A long-term goal can be to take a Sacco loan in five years’ time and invest in real estate.

You are still young and have plenty of time to plan your finances wisely. Strive to acquire financial literacy by enrolling in a personal financial coaching programme, hire the services of a financial coach and mentor who can walk along with you to accomplish your financial plans.

Remember, you cannot solve the same financial problem with the same mind that created it. You need a different software, a mental reprogramming and reconditioning for you to get the desired outcomes.

On your quest to change professions, this should be guided by your qualifications and whether nursing is something you are passionate about. Age is not a major factor as you are still young.

In fact, if you were to enroll for a nursing diploma in March 2025, you could be a qualified nurse by age 32.

The upside to this is that you will have two careers, one that you can practice full time (nursing) and one that you can use as a side hustle (accounting).

Financial implications will be there as nursing is a full time course that might require you to take a lengthy sabbatical from work, and probably move back in with your parents, not to mention the fees and related study costs that might be as high as around Sh450,000 at the end of the course.

If you have any money problems, send us an email at [email protected] and leave your number for contact. Money questions will be answered on this column