Who doesn’t want to save more money? But sometimes the thought of trying to squeeze out even more value from your income can seem so overwhelmingly impossible.
So instead of trying to save a little, we give up on the idea and decide to leave things as they are. This paralysis hits so many of us that our poor savings culture has raised Government concern. The Treasury says as a result, it is becoming more difficult for the country to invest significantly in any sector of the economy.
According to official data, Kenyans save an average of Sh12 out of every Sh100 they earn, while in Asian giants like Singapore, citizens save as much as Sh40 out of every Sh100.
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So how can you turn yourself into a slightly better saver, without the idea of it making you break into a cold sweat?
1. Embrace the sharing economy
Platforms like Uber and Airbnb have made the idea of sharing our resources an easier pill to swallow. Try to squeeze out as much value from what you own as you possibly can.
If you drive, start a carpooling service and charge your neighbours a small fee. You can decide this cash is what will make up your savings.
If you have office space and don’t really need it all, sub-lease it to someone who does. You have a spare bedroom? Consider listing it on Airbnb. Loan out what you’re not using – but be careful about whom you decide to give so you don’t lose your stuff altogether
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2. Do it yourself
YouTube videos are a goldmine – you can teach yourself to do almost anything.
Save yourself some extra cash by learning how to do general repairs and maintenance work yourself. You can learn how to fix up torn clothing, broken furniture or even a leaking tap and save yourself the cost of calling someone to do it for you.
And take care of your things. Don’t wait until something gets ruined to fix it, it will cost more. Change your oil before your car engine gets destroyed, seal cracks before they destroy your walls, and so on.
3. Food hacks
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Shopping for your house can make it seem almost impossible to save money. So start small. Plan out your groceries for a week so you only enter a supermarket once. And when you get in, go with a list and stick to it.
Don’t browse the aisle because you can bet you’ll put things in your basket that you don’t need.
Also see if you can cook more when you do, and freeze what won’t be consumed that day. And if you’re planning a road trip, carry homemade snacks; you’ll spend less than you would if you shopped in a supermarket.
4. Entertain yourself for free
You want to have a life, but this can get expensive. So, to avoid staying cooped up in your house driving yourself crazy, why not find free events around you.
You can attend art exhibitions, motivational talks and even dance recitals at all sorts of venues, including cultural centres and universities, and all for free.
Take a walk and enjoy nature. Take the children to the library – there’s usually a children’s section. And if going to the gym is a priority for you, save yourself those fees by getting a home workout programme.
5. Buy generic
Big brands are more likely to cost more because they’ll charge you for their marketing budgets.
Where possible, pick the generic option. The insides are usually the same. However, don’t go cheap for things you plan to use long-term, like appliances. You don’t want to keep replacing certain products. And once you shell out good money for something, take care of it.