Why Financial Literacy Matters

Written by: 
Peter Nyanzi

In December 2014, Joshua got his first car, a Toyota Premio in the UAK series. It was in excellent condition. He loved it because he had saved for a year to acquire it at Shs 6 million.

However, months later, his colleagues started to tease him about his ‘old car.’ When one of his friends successfully ordered for a car from Japan, Joshua got excited. He identified a newer model Premio on the internet. Quickly, he got a buyer for his old car and wired the money. That was at the end of May 2015.

When the car arrived in mid July, Joshua was in shock. The taxes had shot through the roof thanks to ‘environmental taxes.’ To put the car on the road, he needed an additional Shs 12m! He had saved Shs 2m, but he needed the balance of Shs 10m urgently.

He decided to take a salary loan from his bank to pay the taxes, a decision that his boss at work vehemently tried in vain to dissuade him from. Two weeks later, Joshua was the proud owner of a new model Premio. Thoufgh servicing the bank loan would take more than half of his salary per month for the next 30 months, he was happy to cruise around in his new ‘machine.’

As part of his New Year’s celebrations, Joshua had arranged to take his fiancé to the Source of the Nile in Jinja. Just after Mabira Forest, Joshua saw a tyre running past him. In just a second, the car had swerved off the road hitting a boda boda that was carrying a woman and a child. They missed an oncoming taxi by meters. The car rolled, leaving Joshua with a shattered collar bone.

The cyclist, the woman and the kid all sustained broken limbs. The four were rushed to Kawolo Hospital. After regaining consciousness, Joshua started to appreciate the magnitude of what had befallen him.

First, he would be out of work for several months. Secondly, it was also his responsibility to foot the hospital bills for the injured people. Thirdly, his car was almost written off yet he had a big loan to pay off. The only option available was for him to sell off his two plots of land to raise cash. Now, he’s back to square one.

Moral of story: Sometimes, the most important lessons in financial literacy are acquired the hard way."