This article explores relations between ways of experiencing socio-economic disorder, strategies on how to deal with it, and monetary classifications that symbolize these ways and strategies. It assumes that we can learn something from the fact that the concept of pesa makech (‘bitter money’) has been replaced with the much more diffuse notion of pesa marach (‘bad money’) in Western Kenya during the last twenty-five years. This shift in how ‘negative forms’ of money are discursively marked indexes a change in the way in which the people of Kaleko, a small market centre in Western Kenya, conceptualize the disorder of their surroundings. Instead of interpreting disorder as an effect of events taking place inside their sphere of influence, residents of Kaleko now predominantly situate the cause of disorder in actions of external actors that are perceived as uncontrollable: the ‘economy’, money itself, politicians, members of other ethnic groups and untrustworthy Luo. This necessarily changes the ways in which disorder is tackled: while pesa makech’s bitterness could be resolved by ‘sorting out’ (rieyo) the homestead's disorder, nowadays people employ other ways that aim at resolving disorder: upscaling rieyo’s potential to the Kenyan nation; ‘struggling’ (chandre) through disorder; and relativizing rieyo’s applicability.