Management Magazine
Office Diary

Silver linings in a financial meltdown

Being broke is stressful, uncomfortable and counterproductive


Picture this! You wake up in the morning and you’re totally not in the feels to go to work. You have so far snoozed your alarm three times with snoozes 30 minutes apart. You can’t help but wonder what kind of solstice you guys are experiencing because nights seem to be extremely shorter than days. You obviously craft an excuse late coming. Because you’re not very creative, you come up with something like, “I had a sick child”, or “the ongoing road construction has caused a traffic jam” et cetera. But if you are as creative as I am, you will probably say something like, “I sprained my hamstrings while doing my morning run and I had to be rushed to a wellness centre for a therapy massage”. I know, it sounds so unbelievable but ‘a man who stands by his lies is more dignified than one who defies the truth’. If you’re a runner, you’re probably a huge weirdo, so I’m glad you’re here and you understand such an excuse! After running in the morning for about a month now, my life has become progressively weirder and I do things that normal folks think are absurd.

That morning you will not be in a hurry. You are going to the office to reply to another of those dull emails that you won’t even use an emoji in. Just another lacklustre email that you will reply with ‘Noted with thanks’ and end it with ‘Kind Regards’. Seated in your car in traffic at a junction, you get filled with road rage. You move your car with every slight move of traffic effectively blocking that old catholic nun in an old Datsun signalling you for permission to join the highway. How cruel! Your morning is noxious because you’re undergoing a financial crunch. And who to blame other than your employer? S/he had one role! Just one role! To ensure that you don’t go broke! But your salary delayed again.

In troubled economic times, a kind of paralysis sets in that shakes the whole essence of being employed. But how do you find a silver lining when you or your organisation is undergoing a financial meltdown? There is real fear of layoffs, pay cuts, salary delays, freezes in spending, and raises. And for those having salary as their only source of income, a delay can mean a lot of financial stress. Retooling helps one explore other options in a downturn.

First, no matter how bad the situation, stay away from credit. Debt and credit will entangle you further into financial woes. Go easy on them. Focus on lifestyle change to accommodate your new situation. Second, relook your investments. With irregular income, your investment strategy needs to have corresponding flexibility to deal with the changing cash-flow. Temporarily slow on cashing your investments to accommodate the crunch then resume with lumpsum funding when income becomes steady. Thirdly, you need to have an emergency corpus, one that can last you several months, say six. This really is a no-brainer. Lastly, know when to call it quits. If your employer is defaulting regularly and there is no solid communication about bringing the pay cycle back to normal, weigh the pros and cons of continuing in the organisation. Depending on your emergency corpus, you need to be smart to know when to start looking out or to fold up and walk away.

Derrick Vikiru is the Sub-Editor Management Magazine. Email:

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