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How millennials in Nairobi lose their money in a day.

How you lose your money in a week

Even when you catch a windfall from sports betting or a sudden uncharacteristic moment of altruism from a parent, you still somehow end up in your default state. Around ten days after receiving your salary, or your winnings, you just go back to being that person who has ATMs spit out your debit card before the scanner even goes off.

So how do you end up finishing all your money in such a short time? You didn’t make any extravagant purchases. You didn’t really have many debts. Your bills were normal. There was no emergency. But how did you end up with nothing?

On Monday the M-Pesa or bank message kicks in that money has been deposited, you are out of the office only for your supervisor to remind you that it isn’t home time yet. Like a chastised child, you sit back at your desk, occasionally bouncing and flaunting your message to your workmates. They congratulate you as they encourage you to buy them all drinks. And somehow you agree.


On the way there, you decide to take an Uber. Some of your colleagues can’t afford the entire amount.

“Please pay my share, I’ll refund you,” they say. You agree, rationalising that it’s only a couple of hundred.

When you get to the local, your order a kilo of nyama and drinks for everyone. But no, the want a mzinga of Jameson. What’s a couple more thousand? The bewildered waitress adds the order at your go-ahead.

The following morning, you’re hung over. You want to remain in bed and let the demons of alcohol past fight their battles without you. But you know if you miss work, your supervisor may give you that job which nobody else wants. So you shower and call another Uber. First you pass by the chemist, then your mayai pasua guy and then you go to work. The extra traffic causes your Uber fare to go up, but it’s not a big deal. It’s only a few hundred.

Your hangover slowly fades as the day crawls on slowly. By evening, you need a pick me up. As though reading your mind your ride or die homie for life calls you and you tell them about the wild night you had with your workmates. Somehow this doesn’t go over well. Your bff feels like they should have been invited too. And you remember you still have money so you make it up to them by inviting them for coffee. It’s only a few hundred.


Over the next few days, messages pop up. Your Branch loan is up for repayment, your M-Shwari loan, your Okoa Jahazi loan, your Tala loan, even GOtv are reminding you that your subscription is due in two weeks. But why not clear them all. After all, each of them is only a few hundred.

The weekend catches you at home wanting to watch all episodes of Narcos. But bae calls. And wants to come over. But bae is particular. Only the finest things. Domino’s pizza. Or a trip to the market to get that fresh fish that came out of the lake that very morning. It’s no big deal. It all just comes over a thousand.

By Monday, you are on cloud nine after that great weekend with bae. You see a pair of shoes on the streets, they look amazing. And you deserve them after all your hard work. You try them on and they fit. It’s a sign. You were meant to have them. You only have fare in your wallet but it’s fine. The vendor accepts M-Pesa. You send him the couple thousand and as your brand new shoes are packed in the eco-friendly bag, the vendor’s phone chimes with the incoming money. Your phone buzzes in response you glance down at the screen. Habit. But what you see stops you cold.

“LIC_________ZMS Confirmed. Ksh. 2300.00 sent to Mtu wa Viatu 0701xxxxxx on 11/9/17  at 7.48 PM. New M-PESA balance is Ksh3.00.”

You look up at the vendor still holding out your brand new shoes that were only a couple of thousand. You slowly grab them as you ask out loud, “Where did all my money go?”


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