Readjusting your spending habits to get through the pandemic
By Paul Kariuki | June 19th 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the financial fortunes of many people shrinking, while others have lost their livelihoods altogether as businesses close down and companies downsize.
Others have to contend with pay cuts, leaving them with little or no disposable income.
The latest report from polling firm GeoPoll indicates that the economic fortunes of most Kenyans have deteriorated since the beginning of the year, with young people disproportionately affected.
"The recent resurgence of the pandemic and renewal of governmental restrictions in Kenya appears to have had a severe economic impact, with 79 per cent of respondents reporting a decrease in income,” explained GeoPoll in its report.
“Young people in Kenya appear to be particularly affected, with 66 per cent of respondents aged 15-25 saying their income has decreased a lot.”
The study was conducted in Cote d’Ivoire, the DRC, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa in April this year. About 400 respondents from each country were polled with the data compared to sentiments collected in January 2021.
According to the report, only 10 per cent of respondents across the six countries reported their income has increased since January this year.
In Kenya, more than half of the respondents said their spending on non-essential items has decreased since the start of this year as households tightened their belts.
One such Kenyan is Millicent Kamau*, an employee with a financial institution, who before the pandemic used to drop her daughter at school and later pick her up in the evening.
But this is a luxury that she can no longer afford and has been forced to pay for her daughter to use the school bus, which is cheaper.
“When the schools reopened after the long closure this year and after doing my calculations, I realised I was spending a lot on fuel compared to what the school charges per parent per month for using the school bus,” she says.
Going by the current fuel cost, where a litre goes for Sh122, it would cost her Sh2,440 monthly to drive her daughter to and from school.
She now interchanges between using public transport and driving to work, saving on her monthly fuel budget.
Mike Imbai, a Nakuru-based pastor used to take his clothes for dry cleaning every week before the pandemic. As a man of the cloth, he has to look sharp, with suits more of a necessity than a luxury.
He, however, has had to make adjustments to his monthly budget, cutting down on the amount he uses for dry cleaning.
“I used to spend well over Sh1,000 on drycleaning weekly... but the trips to the dry cleaner have become fewer,” says Imbai.
His wife now does his cleaning or engages the services of Mama Fua (cleaning lady) at a fraction of what he would pay at the dry cleaner.
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