By Norbert Mao
As new MPs prepare to take their seats as the country’s lawmakers, many businesses are welcoming them with fantastic offers of instant cash secured by their expected earnings over the next five years.
Estate agents are reaching out to MPs promoting neighbourhoods where the MPs should acquire homes. Stylists are also telling the MPs about the kind of clothes that will make them be recognised as important people without an introduction.
Furniture shops, not to be outdone, are hovering around the MPs with offers of the latest furnishings that will allow the big men and women to relax after a hard day’s work.
Of course, the happiest people are the car dealers. The MPs will receive at least Shs200 million to buy cars. The owners of car bonds are on the prowl promoting their cars to the MPs who need something impressive so they can arrive back in their constituencies in style.
I’m told some lenders are giving the new kids on the block up to Shs100m simply after seeing that their names have been gazetted as winners! But all that shines is not gold.
Lurking behind some of these too good to be true financial baits are hooks that will keep the unsuspecting MPs in financial bondage for years. The crafty city wheeler dealers want the MPs to spend their money in advance in exchange for things that shouldn’t even be their top priority.
It is only natural that when one ascends to high office, one desires to “be seen”! Those offering the MPs loans are aware of this craving. The tendency for people with new money to indulge in conspicuous consumption is as old as the hills.
In some cases the new kids on the block suffer from what psychologists call “impostor syndrome”.
This is a mental pattern that gives a person a feeling that they are inadequate and undeserving of the success they have achieved despite evidence to the contrary. It is this that leads to conspicuous consumption in order to get a sense of belonging by buying services or goods that are aimed at showing off wealth rather that meeting basic needs.
Of course, MPs can afford ostentatious, lavish or wasteful spending because they have more disposable income than most citizens. The new MPs will thus indulge in these expenses to show that they are a class apart.
So what should the new MPs do? First make sure you have a budget. This simply means having a monthly estimate of what you expect to earn and what you expect to spend. Second, you better save money to buy certain things rather than borrow money.
Third, have an investment plan. This means putting your money on projects that will bring cash flow. An example is buying land that you can sell after some time or farming. Fourth, even though MPs are not likely to be pestered too much to pay their bills, make it a habit to pay your bills promptly.
Neglecting a water bill for several months may lead to embarrassment!
Fifth, don’t get excited about subscribing to services you may not use or even need. That gym you’re too busy to use, online streaming services or even that WiFi you seldom use are recurring expenses you should cut.
Sixth, many times we’re forced to borrow because we’ve not put anything aside. Make sure you develop a habit of saving. And since you may be harbouring the ambition of getting re-elected, you should put something into your political war chest for the next elections. Start with your first pay check to avoid the fate of being a political “has been”.
And finally, and most obviously, track where your money goes. The occasional coffee, entertainment, dining out, or even money gifts to the many “friends” who share with you their endless financial horror stories. The bottom line is that managing your money well means kicking bad money habits and developing good money habits! If symptoms persist, ask for advice.