Recently, while travelling to the village, I shared the shuttle backseat with a fairly old man who looked over 70 but had the zeal of a thirty-something dude. We talked politics and the weather and, as if he knew I write an investment column, the conversation turned to money. Mr Mburu was travelling to Nakuru but had boarded a Kakamega-bound shuttle and paid the full fare.

Why, in these hard economic times, would someone in his right mind pay Kshs1,000 for a distance of only Sh230? “You look a person of the future,” he shot back in heavily accented English “Let me tell you something, time is precious and you have to spend money to buy it sometimes.”

Using the Nakuru PSV would have taken him two hours waiting for it to fill up and another two hours or so to get to Nakuru. And that meant risking “a big deal.” So he took the Western shuttle that got full within minutes. He even told me how one day he bought at a ticket premium from an airline passenger and paid his hotel for an extra night at Heathrow Airport so he could get the next flight to Johannesburg for a business meeting.

Time is money. Those who have more time, have (potentially) more money. Getting rich takes sacrifice, thinking hard as well as walking the valleys and mountains over time. Few lucky ones hit the jackpot or inherit wealth and become millionaires overnight.

Looking at the time value of money, people focus on interest rates, inflation and bank deposits. But that’s a myopic way of looking at it. Every single day nature gives you 24 hours to work with.

Whatever you do with every second of it determines whether you become rich or remain a pauper. You can choose to watch Afro Cinema or read an investment book or work for money.

Given a choice, over 90 per cent will follow the path of least resistance. This tells you to turn time into money, you must be disciplined. That is, doing the right thing at the right time. I love golf, but I won’t play it at 9am for on a week day.

When you are disciplined with time, you will realise that as many people try to create extra hours working till midnight, you have plenty of it to entertain yourself. Mburu would have sat in a bus for two hours to save 770 bob.

But he knew the time value and figured he could afford to lose small change and make up for it in a big way in a matter of hours. That’s smart thinking. The earlier you start investing, the better.

Aside from enjoying the rewards of compound interest, time is on your side. You can take high-risk and high-return investments like stocks and currency trading because you have time to recover from fluctuations.

Many people I know do not invest, and some earn six-figure salaries. They keep waiting for the elusive magical figure. They are in the rat race trap of working, paying bills, and going back to work.

Imagine if you started saving – and then investing – at 20 years while in college. Twenty years later you’d be a millionaire. Start investing today and keep increasing as your income grows. Time heals, yes, and time expands too. Whom do you spend your time with?

This is called the power of association. A few moments with the right person can change your life from rags to riches. So choose your friends wisely. I don’t choose friends based on their financial success.

I have friends who have taken the oath of poverty as well as those who earn millions every year. The trick is, I learn from all of them. My rich friends talk about money, how to make it and how not to lose it. I take in the lessons.

Friends who are perpetually broke don’t like talking about money, business or investing. They find it too demanding and unintellectual. So I learn from them what not to do.

Always remember, time wasted can NEVER be recovered. You will never see another Sunday, 20th of May, 2012. Act now.


Luke Mulunda is a media consultant and editor in chief of the Nairobi Business Monthly. He can be reached at [email protected]

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