Lunch money


My pal, Vicky, doesn’t believe in insurance. I asked her why and she said, “Insurance companies are a rip off. Especially the life policies.”

I don’t think insurance companies are a rip off, Vicky. I don’t even think Kenyans have taken out enough insurance. The reason why there’s always a huffing and puffing insurance salesman knocking at your door or annoyingly leaving you several missed calls, is because we haven’t taken out enough insurance as Kenyans.

The golden rule of thumb is, you can never have enough insurance.

Here’s a story. In December 2008 I took out two insurance policies with Sanlam. They called themselves back then Pan Africa Life. One policy was a life cover and the other a savings plan.

The life cover would kick in if I got into an accident that made me unable to make my bacon. Or something like that, I’m not quite certain. The premiums for it were about 820 bob per month. It’d be adjusted annually for inflation. It made sense to have it. A grown up thing to do. This is what adulting looked like.

The savings plan was… just that, a plan to save your money monthly with an insurance company. What I liked about it was its flexibility – at anytime during the life of the policy, I could ‘flex’ my premiums either upwards or downwards, depending on which direction the wind of my life was blowing.

What really sealed the deal for me, though, was the insurance salesman. His salesmanship was a gift from the gods. Words rolled off his tongue as if they’d lined up in the back of his mouth and were bringing themselves forth as if on cue. He was so suave he could use them to lace up a bow on a box and present the box to you.

I remember he said something to the effect of, “If you start saving 4,000 bob a month now, that’s about 130 bob a day. 130 is what you spend on lunch. Plus, plus” he paused for effect, “you’ll also get a cash payout from both policies after five years.”

I signed up right away.

I was 24, single, freshly employed as an auditor, living at home and had the juvenile gift of blowing money on useless things. I’m in my 30s now and when  I think back to all that money I blew on shoes and Smirnoff Ice and vodka, I wish I’d have that money in my pocket right now.

Folk are constantly asking about that one regret you have from your 20s. My regret is, I wish I’d travelled more and been in the outdoor more. And when I say travel I don’t mean to New York or Cape Town or Zanzibar. No no, around Kenya. Laikipia and Watamu, Mandera and Kisumu. I’ve not seen much of my own country and it’s such a pity. It’s because I was getting wasted on Smirnoff from my 20s.

But then again… hang on. Folk who saved more in their 20s say they wished they’d travelled and let loose more instead, and those who let loose say they wished they’d saved more. Nobody gets it right in their 20s. Even if they did get whatever they got right. So no, I have no regrets. I take my regret back. I will travel when I will.

Anyway, I saved consistently from that December of 2008. I’d set up a direct debit instruction with my bank, the cash left my account on the 10th of every month.

I was in corporate back then so every year we were promoted and our salos increased by a significant percentage. Plus there was bonus sometimes. Not every year, but some years. After our promotions, I’d ‘flex’ my premiums upwards.

I left corporate to freelance as a creative writer in April 2013. I was saving by this time 9gees per month, the equivalent of 300 bob on lunch every day. That’s a healthy lunch with healthy portions in a healthy eatery. I knew I wouldn’t make a sustainable income from my writing for at least one more year, plus I was living off my cash savings, so I ‘flexed’ by premiums downwards to 2gees, the minimum allowed for the policy. Two gees per month is the equivalent of a skinny unhealthy lunch.

Life carried on in this languid rhythm. I continued saving while writing.

In 2014, I got a cash payout of 35 gees from the policies. I remember I was so broke in that year, that when the cash came I immediately withdrew it and stashed it in a dark corner of my wardrobe. In a brown envelope. Then I told no one about it. I startled each time my phone rang, thinking it was the bank calling to tell me there’d been a mistake and they wanted their money back. Nobody called, though, because there had been no mistake. The money was mine. All mine.

I didn’t know it then but insurance had come through for me.

I was heavy with our first child in 2015. Our darling, Muna. I took out an education policy for this yet-to-be-born child and a pension policy for myself. (I say ‘child’ because I didn’t know if the baby was a boy or girl. We had decided not to check the gender of the baby, we would know what it were when it were born.)

I don’t know what informed my decisions to take out these two policies given that my pregnant head felt like it was stuffed with cotton balls. My mind was like mabati. I wasn’t thinking like a regular person. Let alone a person who could make seemingly wise decisions.

Two policies at once, though, was two policies too many. I knew I’d bitten off more than I could chew, but I buried my head in the sand and went on my maternity leave.

A year later, I was at the insurance company’s office on Kenyatta Avenue reviewing the statuses of my four policies. It was June 2016 – I was 31, a writer and new mum, I had taken his last name and had the supernatural maternal ability of running a household on even the most meagre of budgets.

The chap at the customer service desk gave me my statements. I couldn’t believe it: In the eight years since I’d signed up for the savings plan, my savings had grown to a little over 500,000gees. He told me, “If you chose to,“ he leaned in heavily on the ‘if’, “you can terminate the policy and the cash will be sent to your bank account within three business days.”

I almost fell off my seat. Yaani I’d been sitting on half a mil and I didn’t even know about it? The way I was broke? And I mean, this was lunch money I’d been saving. Lunch!

I said to the customer service chap, “I want to terminate the policy right away.”

He almost fell off his seat. “Why?! This was a really good product and they don’t sell it anymore.”

“Because…” I sighed. “Because the policy has done what it needed to do. This was its purpose, to sort me out when I needed it to. Of course I didn’t know this when I signed up but…” I shrugged my shoulders. “Now it has.”

I took out yet another education policy for my yet-to-be-conceived second child. Then I terminated this savings plan and redirected the cash to an investment project. The returns from this project settles the premiums for my four insurance policies.

And guess what? I’m not yet done. I will take out more insurance. Insurance will be the silhouettes of my financial horizon.

To Vicky and to you who’s reading this, insurance exists because life happens: you could lose your primary source of income, your kids will need to go to school, you could decide to return to school, you will retire, you will die, you could get into a bad run that turns you into a cabbage (touch wood), you could decide to pursue your hobby in urban fashion or hand-making neck jewellery as a business, or backpack through West Africa for a year…

Look, a lot will – and could – happen tomorrow or next week or in ten years, I’m not certain. What I’m certain of is, you’ll immediately need a boatload of money. Insurance is one of the sure ways to have that money in your hands, before the need arises.

Just think of how much you spend on your lunch every day.

An edited version of this story first ran in the Personal Finance column of Saturday Nation Magazine.

Also, the little girl in the picture has nothing to do with the story, but how gorgeous is she? TIA! I got her from Unsplash. I’m even crediting the photographer so you can check out more of his work: Trevor Cole on Unsplash

My baby is a chameleon
Weaver man

Comments (7)

  1. Lilian

    Love how you turn your experiences into stories. I too have surrendered from life policies and pension to settle obligations. The additional benefit in tax relief is a plus for those salaried.

    • Bett

      Thanks, Lilian! I realized it’s easier for me to make sense of things when it’s told in a story. It’s probably the African in me.

      Three stones, fireplaces, anyone? Hehhee.

      Ah yes, there’s that tax relief. Taking back from the government of Kenya. Tell me, is the relief only on PAYE (for the salo’d folk) or also on WHT (for us freelancers and, uhm, consultants? Ahem)?


  2. Wakhu Andati

    Kudos GB’s second in command. Your stories inspire me a lot! Keep me posted whenever its published especially matters finance.

    • Bett

      Andati! Thanks and thanks, man! (Cool name, by the way.)

      So I have this column on Daily Nation online called Money Talks. Runs Mondays.

      Hapo now I go HAM with these personal finance stories. I’m actually having a good time writing them. Who’dathought?

      Make sure to subscribe.

      PS. The Nation website is knotted up like spaghetti. All the best unknotting it.


      • Wakhu Andati

        Hello Bett. Will definitely subscribe to get more financial insights from you. Its my area of interest.

    • Bett

      Thanks for the read, Muindi!

      Let me read yours as well. (Scratch mine I scratch yours? Hahaa)

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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