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What is an asue?

This word is synonymous with Bahamian culture. But an interesting fact about what we’ve come to know as an “asue” is its African origin. In many African languages the word asue means “partner”. This method of monetary budgeting has helped persons of African descent save money for centuries.

But how does an asue work?

Simply put, an asue is formed when a group of people put their money into one “pot”. The asue holder is then designated and that person is placed in charge of distributing the money in the pot based on when it is someone’s “draw”. A draw is when it is one person’s turn to receive all of the money in the pot for that given pay period. The draw is determined by the people in the asue and when they wish to receive their money. The draw usually takes place weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

In the mid-to-late ‘60s asues were very prevalent in many pockets of The Bahamas and in particular the straw market. This was a very effective way for persons to save due to the lack of availability of banks. But in recent times this once reliable way of saving money for Bahamians has been plagued with dishonest and deceitful people who don’t put their money in the asue for every draw, or, even worse, the asue holder goes missing and steals the money out of the pot. It’s an unfortunate reality we have come to live with.

Personal asues are now considered to be unsafe and very risky. The court system is littered with cases of persons trying to retrieve stolen funds, via this same method designed to help people save. As a certified financial planner (CFP), I wholeheartedly agree that asues are no longer a smart savings tool in The Bahamas. A few local financial companies have tried to reintroduce this concept with earnings on the amount deposited, but haven’t seen the success of the traditional asues.

One of the big issues now that have plagued Bahamians when it comes to saving is their high levels of consumption in entertainment, food and living expenses. Unlike the past, we can now safely save money in banks. Unfortunately, our expenditure usually outweighs our income and ultimately our savings.

Here are two tips that can help anyone save in this modern society that we now live in.

1. Track your spending by viewing your bank statement for two straight months and see how much you are withdrawing and spending. This is very easy to do now via online banking.

2. Automate your savings. Set up automatic direct deposit (or transfers) so money goes directly into your savings account every pay period.

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