The power of broke


I’m in Ruiru with my pal, Joan. It’s a Thursday. She and I are down here looking at houses for sale.

There are pockets of ongoing development and some ready-for-sale units. All these units sit in gated communities – a gate with a uniformed Kale guard (of course), a perimeter fence that creates the feeling of a thriving oasis, pave ways fitted with carbro, like a large jigsaw puzzle, manicured patches of scanty Maadi river grass and hanging lines in the outdoors.

Hanging lines in the outdoor always gnaw at my heart.

The houses themselves don’t have their own gates, what they have are little gardens of live growing fences separating the neighbour from the next. Picket fences, if you may. I imagine such next-door neighbours chatting over those fences in the mornings, with mugs of steaming tea in their hands.

The houses in these properties are mostly bungalows. Three-bedroom bungalows with the master en suite, a shared shower and toilet for the other two. The laundry rooms extend to the back of the kitchen and open into the backyard and hanging lines.

It’s all quite cosy, quite appealing. The air smells of community and the satisfaction of achieving the dream of home ownership.

One of the sales girls on one of the site tells us, “We have 24 units here, only three are remaining. We were selling them off-plan for 3.5M. Buying off plan is cheaper. But there are those who’d rather buy a ready house than take the risk with off plan.

“So what some people do is, they buy off plan, then sell the ready house for 4.5, sometimes 5M.”

She pauses to stare down Joan and I. None of us barges. We stare back. She swallows spit and carries on, “We have another property coming up on the other side of Ruiru. It’s already 95 per cent sold…”

Well, they always say the units are ‘95 per cent sold’. Or, ‘we have only two units left here’. I doubt it’s ever true. I think they say this so they can create a sense of urgency. Have you imagine that it’s now or never. That the train is leaving the station and there won’t be another one to catch. So do it now. Now!

It’s a Thursday.

I’ve said that already.

I woke up in a funk on Monday, and I couldn’t place my finger on it.

I dragged myself to the shower. Dragged myself to put on some clothes and fill in my eyebrows. Dragged myself through a breakfast of ngwace and hot chocolate. Dragged myself to sit in the car to drop Muna to school. GB dropped me in the office after.

I said little in the ride over. Juliani’s album was playing from the car stereo, he filled in the silence with his razor-sharp wordplay.

I had half the mind to go back home and back to bed. The only reason I didn’t is because my hair was really oily; that oil needed to live through the day and evaporate from my head. Mostly because we had an editorial meeting later that morning.

The funk didn’t lift on Monday.

Or Tuesday.

Or Wednesday morning.

I was irritable and testy.

Muna’s whines were driving me up the wall. Emails were making me drowsy. WhatsApp groups were a racket.

Was my period on its way? Had GB made a slighting comment I’d taken to heart? Why did I suddenly not want to see another MS Word document? Why were chapos bland and Burna Boy droning? Maybe I needed to write from anywhere but my office desk. Maybe get a new wardrobe. Maybe I should go backpack through West Africa…

I caught myself looking out windows – the office window, bus window, bedroom window – and asking myself with longing, ‘What else is out there? I feel like there’s opportunity passing me over while I’m here stewing at my laptop.’

Wednesday afternoon, my pal, Joan was talking about… I don’t know. I could see her lips moving as she sat at her desk but I couldn’t make out what she was saying. “…Shee recommended this extension. It looks natural, eh? Thanks…. I told her to cut off my… Then Roy said their boss…. You remember that interminent fasting…. And the way I’m broke… See this meme about… ha-ha… ”

I clapped hard and jumped off my seat. “That’s it, Joan! I’m broke. That’s why I’ve been in such a funk all week. Because I’m broke. My goodness.”

There’s a power in being broke. You have to be mindful of this power so you can harness it to your benefit.

In hindsight, a better version of myself has emerged in those moments I become strongly aware of my dwindling bank balance. The precarious position it puts me.

Some ready examples come to mind.

End of 2013, months after I left corporate audit, I taught myself how to become a better and more consistent writer because my savings were next to nil and I needed to make money off my words so I could survive.

In 2014, the money from my writing wasn’t coming in fast enough so I reached out to my mentor about starting a Creative Writing Masterclass. We’re now five years in and hosting our 20th Edition next September, Inshallah. (Registration is happening right now. The slots are 95 per cent pre-booked…)

Nanny Viv wanted a pay rise but she owed me money already. I’d lent her the money to start a small farming biashara for her Mum back in Kitale. The biashara didn’t go as they’d anticipated (unpredictable weather patterns; reason why I’d never get into farming) and they lost all the money they’d invested.

I took Nanny Viv’s burden and made it mine. All that happened last year, in 2018. She and I are now running a profitable side-hustle that’s gradually gaining traction.

She also harnessed her power of broke. She opted to go college instead of taking a pay rise – the returns from our business settles her tuition fees.

When you’re broke, it’s as if the universe ignites a fire under your lazy ass. A fire that says, “Get up and get moving, Bett.  Whining about your empty pockets won’t do you any good. You’ve been far too comfortable. That’s why you’ve been growing fat and your pants no longer fit.

“You’re content with you have, with where you are. Your goals don’t frighten you anymore. Shake up your dreams. Write some new big goals, then go out there.”

That fire will have you hit the road – literally and figuratively – in search of opportunity to make more money.

You become hungry and thirsty again.

You must stay hungry and thirsty. Stay foolish.

That’s how Joan and I find ourselves in Ruiru looking at houses for sale. On a Thursday.

We may invest the houses, or we may not. We may live there or we may not, we may lease them out, instead, or flip them to the investor with a lower risk appetite.

We may get money in our pockets again and lose the urgency that comes with being broke, or we may not.

I’m not certain.

What I’m certain is, a fire inside me has been ignited.

This story originally ran in my personal finance column with Daily Nation online. We call it ‘Money Talks’. Because it’s about… money. Personal finance, yeah. Subscribe to get the weekly updates.

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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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