The Fool and His Money....

 Gambling is increasingly becoming a way for many seeking a short-cut to instant riches. The mouth watering sums at stake, especially the jackpot prizes, are seeing many a young person ‘invest’ in this front in hopes of striking it rich in life. Whereas few will smile their way to the bank, majority are left counting losses. And those unable to reconcile with losses can go to an extent of stealing or taking loans they can hardly repay just to sustain gambling addiction or even take their lives.

 When Jackson Kamau* won Sh1 million through Kenya Charity sweepstakes some years back, he thought he had it all mapped out for a life of ease and comfort for the rest of his days. It wasn’t to be, for financial discretion took a sabbatical and he was back to square one sooner than he anticipated.

  “All of a sudden, I had so many friends hanging round me like moths to a glow globe,” he recalls.

  He was generous to a fault standing them drinks or literally painting the town red during their many outings or dishing cash right, left and centre as a ‘philanthropic’ gesture. It wasn’t long before reality sunk in when he hit the bottom financially speaking, with no investment worth his name to show for.

  His is not an isolated case for majority of those landing windfalls finds themselves in similar predicaments. Take the case of one Mbugua*, then formerly a resident of a village in Nakuru County who, after being wrongfully dismissed by his employer a decade back, was awarded Sh5 million as compensation through a court ruling. It took little before his life took a down spiral that eventually led to an early grave due to alcoholism.

  The adage that a fool and his money are soon parted company aptly applied to Mbugua’s case. He threw out his legal wife of many years and their two children and brought in a young lady. His life with this young catch was characterized by grandiose partying and bingeing, though short-lived, as he eventually succumbed to kidney failure with the wily young lady transferring all his property to her name.

  According to Sarah Nginda, a financial expert, many people are cautious with the little they have but foolish by the way they carelessly waste the much they have.

  Extravagance becomes synonymous with landing a windfall. Ms Nginda says that as a financial statement, some may try to upgrade their lives just to prove they have ‘arrived’. “Before this life changing fortune, chances are that the recipients of same were in a different social class. But a win or hefty monetary compensation blinds them to the reality of their rushed actions only to regret later,” she says.

  It is not unusual for some to move to costly estates or splurge in things they have no use for, like latest models of cars in the market, only to resell them later out of desperateness at lower prices when reality check dawns. By the time they do a personal lifestyle audit, it is too late to remedy a bad situation.

  She notes that even a win of, say, Sh20, 000, will be deemed as insufficient for any meaningful investment. “It is easier for one to blow up what he or she has not worked for than to wisely invest the same,” she says.

  A win or compensation of whatever amount can go a long way in bettering the life of a recipient, but it would pay to consult financial experts, than to be shilling wise and pound foolish!

*names changed


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