By Veronica Cherop; Eve Woman Magazine.
When you get a job, before you earn your first pay, find out how you can join the company’s Sacco and start saving immediately. If the company does not have such a facility, find one that has a stable Sacco and join. These days, the savings facility is open to the public unlike in the past that members had to be employees and when they left the company, they were asked to quit the savings scheme as well.
Saccos gave women the opportunity to borrow loans when banks required a long list of conditions to be met before a loan was granted. Sometimes the husband was supposed to write supporting letters and provide other documents to enable the bank manager append that important signature that would unlock the wife’s loan thus, many women found refuge in Saccos. It was, therefore, my assumption that all my colleagues in the office were members of our vibrant Sacco, which gave us the highest percentage dividend payment ever at 13 per cent.
Everyone in the office was talking about how they were going to invest the money. As I was having lunch with a colleague, I casually inquired how she was going to spend the windfall. He killed my joy by saying she was not a member of the Sacco. I nearly choked on my food. I assumed everyone was on the same wavelength as far as savings go. She reminded me about the time I was on my first job. My friends and I avoided the Sacco representatives who encouraged us to put aside a part of our salaries. Our argument was that after working so hard through school and university, why should someone want to retain part of our pay instead of letting us enjoy our sweat?
When we could not run any more from the officials, we filled the membership forms and agreed among ourselves as new teachers that we were to give the minimum contribution of Sh500 a month then. At that point, we did not know that the savings was for our own benefit or we waxed our ears and chose not to listen to the ‘marketing strategy’ of the Sacco official. Perhaps he was not good at recruiting new members.
Later, when I quit the organization and got a job at a blue chip company, the employer on recruiting me, among other things, stressed that their Sacco was the best among the company’s peers and explained the members’ benefits. For the first time, I allowed, without second thoughts, to contribute quite a tidy amount of my salary. I had transformed from the unconverted to the converted. After the first year of savings, I got my dividends – quite a good amount – because the Sacco gave 12 per cent interest on my savings. Since then, I have enjoyed good annual returns on my investment and I access loans without bothering the banks or getting ulcers worrying about the high and fluctuating bank interests in addition to the other hidden costs.
In nurturing my savings nest with the Sacco, I have learnt gems that have guided me through my financial growth. For example, if you are repaying a loan, you could use your dividends to offset the loan. This reduces the repayment burden greatly. And, of course, reduces the interest you repay at the end of the loan repayment instead of sweating the whole course. If you do not have a pressing financial need, you can also use your dividends to boost your shares. This is beneficial in two ways – it boosts your shares hence, even higher dividends at the end of the year and also positions well in case you want to access higher loans.
In a nutshell, this is why saving with a Sacco is good for you:
- You get your money to work for you: You earn dividends from your money.
- If you want an emergency loan, it is available and the amount is as good as your savings.
- Some Saccos write off your loan in case of death and give your next of kin some percentage on top of your savings.
- Most Saccos encourage members to own property. They do this by buying huge chunks of land, subdividing it into smaller units and selling it off to members.
- At the end of the day, if you want your money back, you will receive a clean cheque with all your money intact.
If you were undecided, go ahead and start saving today, a little at a time.