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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How to Survive on a Low Income in Kenya Today

 Most households in Kenya today are finding it hard to survive on the peanuts they earn to the end of each month. With inflation ensuring that the prices of goods and services, in Kenya, are increasing at a rate faster than your pay cheque, it is easy to see why this has become an overwhelming problem for so many people.
This can be especially true for low and middle income families (what majority of Kenyans consider middle class is actually the upper lower class), who are already feeling stretched to the limit and have very little or no resources left after footing their basic bills.

All is not lost, however, as there are some basic ways that every 'hustler' can save money on their day-to-day expenditure. Below is a look at the top money saving tips perfect for anyone, more so the low-income earner
  1.  Save on Transport: Transport is a recurring expense which consumes a significant portion of a Kenyan income. Therefore, it is only wise to save that 10 or 20 bob, per trip. Always look for ways to save on transport expenses. Be it walking the short distances, using public transport instead of driving, or waking up early and staying late in the office to avoid the rush hour peak fares, saving on transport is a must for a Kenyan hustler.
  2. Change Your Bank Account. If you have been operating a bank account which charges account keeping fees or that which requires you to have a minimum balance on your account, then it is prudent you change to a more pocket friendly bank. The Kshs. 200 account maintenance fee might seem small but its effect on your money is significantly huge, especially when you don't have enough income to sustain it.
  3. Saving on Meals: You don't have to take your breakfast in a hotel if you can easily wake up early and make it yourself. A cup of tea in Nairobi in 2015 is ksh. 50 or more. Whereas this may be tastier and ready made, a cup of tea would cost you ksh. 15 bob or less if you made it yourself. You can carry your lunch to work instead of buying lunch in the cafeteria for over 200 shillings.
  4. Save on TV: Until recently, television was not considered a recurring expenditure to the Kenyan low income earner. However, with the enforcement of the digital migration directive, Kenyans have found themselves paying something little to watch TV. But to save on TV, it may require that you eliminate your Pay TV services and opt for a free to Air TV instead. The cost of a free to air set top box might be slightly higher than the pay TV ones but the overall cost of a pay TV (even if it is kshs. 150 per month) is tenfold more.
  5. Shopping: You don't want to spend the 1,000 shillings daily on grocery if you hardly have enough cash to feed to span a month. Shop for sales items at the grocery store and strive to purchase items in bulk, to get the cheaper per unit price.
  6. Movies and books are sometimes considered a luxury, but if you have to, rent a movie instead of heading out to the movie theater where tickets are fairly expenses. Some information contained in the the books can be accessed inexpensively through the internet or by renting instead of buying a book.
  7. Saving on Cell phone credit: If you have a cell phone plan already, you may opt for the monthly post paid service, if your calling is intense or reduce extensively on the number of unnecessary calls you make. SMS plan and Whatsapp comes handy here.
  8. Eat outs and Dinners: Limit the number of times you eat out each month and choose to eat at home instead. When you do eat out, be sure to ask for water instead of more expensive drinks, and skip dessert at the end of your meal.
  9. Save on Electricity: Lower your electricity bills, by using energy saver bulbs and appliances and turning off your lights and TV when you are not in the room, and unplugging your appliances at the outlet when not in use.
  10. Sometimes it is good to avoid big stores: Sell and buy items at a local kiosk or smaller stores when buying clothes, household furnishings and miscellaneous goods. The supermarkets are cheap outlets for basic commodities like Unga. However, when buying furniture, and clothes, you don't want to compete with guys who hold the notion that expensive is stylish.
  11. Health and Fitness: Instead of paying that monthly subscription at the gym, you can start a walking club with some of your friends, or purchase some yoga training videos that you can do at home. Keeping yourself healthy is fundamental both to your current and future savings. Watch what you eat and keep exercising. The good news is: healthy food are inexpensive.
  12. Buy Generic: Brand names are always expensive. Therefore it makes sense to purchase generic-named medications, cleaners and groceries in place of the "original" ones. Cautions: do not try this trick on electronics, the cost will double.
Combining these twelve money savings tips can help a low income earner spend less on the everyday items they purchase and survive to end month with zero debt and/or extra cash for savings. While not all of the tips may be applicable to your household, just doing five of them on a regular basis can help you save a lot of money over the course of just a few weeks.  You should always be on the lookout for ways to save money, no matter how much you earn.

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