In Summary
  • I like Tala. It’s my dirty little secret.
  • I’m floating in a peaceful Zen-like bubble knowing that it’s right there in my phone.
  • And that we’re in good terms. And that it’ll sort me out when I need it to.

I have a confession: I’ve been borrowing money from Tala.

You must know Tala? Formerly Mkopo Rahisi? It’s that app that sends cash to your M-pesa when you ask for it. The cash comes in almost instantly, as an unsecured loan.

I first borrowed from Branch in late November, I was doing it as research for this column. (Branch works in almost the same way as Tala. But more on that another day.) Branch led me to Tala. Tala led me to more money. I haven’t left Tala since.

I like Tala. It’s my dirty little secret. I’m floating in a peaceful Zen-like bubble knowing that it’s right there in my phone. And that we’re in good terms. And that it’ll sort me out when I need it to.

I don’t have any loans currently outstanding but I will borrow again soon. That’s for sure. I’ll borrow because I need to complete my research for that story, but I’ll borrow mostly because it’s the 89 days of January and I don’t know how many miles the coins I have in my pocket will run. Which brings me to the first survival pointer in the Njaanuary toolkit.

Borrow from Branch, Tala, any such apps or from a shylock
I won’t be coy about this – if you need money to survive the long painful trek of January, then borrow. Don’t suffer, borrow. Borrow what you need and have a plan to how you’ll pay it back in full and on time.

I’m good friends with Branch and Tala because I’d been borrowing and repaying on time – my credit history has earned me a license to bigger loans on lower interest rates.

You can also borrow from Safaricom’s M-Shwari, KCB, Timiza... it’s a long list of apps.

There’s also the good old shylocks.

Shylocks trump these apps because you don’t need to have been building a good borrowing-and-repaying-on-time history with them to get the money you need, right away. You also have the option to negotiate collateral, interest rates and repayment period with them.

Budget for your January income to settle these loans
Not repaying a loan is just bad manners. And it will cost you, one way or the other, it will cost you: a shylock will break your knee caps or send someone with a growling name (like Bruno) to rough you up and take away your car keys.

The apps are passive-aggressive, they’ll just keep rolling forward your unpaid loan and charging sinful interest rates on it, until the day you pay it back.

Honestly though, it’s senseless and really just idiotic not to settle your loans on time and in full.

I strongly suggest that you use your income – or salary – to settle them. Don’t borrow a new loan to settle an old one; you’ll be starting yourself on a trap of living off bad debt. It’s a difficult habit to break, one demanding more discipline than you imagine.

Also remember that you must be good to these ‘financial saviours’ because you don’t know when another financial emergency will rear its ugly head.

Don’t host any guests at your home
Look, hosting isn’t easy on the pocket. You know that as well as I do. I know it much more because GB and I love to host in our home. Our tales of the Holiday Season last December aren’t without our hosting dramas.

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