Ingenious methods of cutting costs in tough economic times

A petrol attendant fuels a car at Rubis Petrol Station along Koinange Street in Nairobi on April 15, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The high cost of living as the shilling lost value and new taxes set in led to creative ways of confronting the new reality.

Some are obvious like shrinkflation, where the price is kept the same but the quantity is reduced. Have you noted that with some brands? 

Selling in smaller quantities has been tried in the kadogo economy. Who has time to find out if it’s more expensive to buy in small quantities?

Who has the time to calculate the annual interest rate offered by shylocks or some lending platforms? Why bother when living one day at a time is what matters? 

Our maths teachers should have hammered into us the price of hating the subject and nicknaming them.

One teacher had an uncanny nickname, Piri. It was short for Piriton because he made the students sleep during math lessons. What was your maths teacher’s nickname?  

Enough digression. My most recent encounter with an ingenious way to beat inflation came through car hire.  

Typically, you got a car with a full tank and returned it with a full tank. Nowadays, they only provide you with enough fuel to take you to the nearest petrol station.  

That was strange until you unveil the economics behind it. Annoyed by an empty tank, the most logical thing to do is to fill it up!  

It gets more interesting. What if you later realise your trip will not burn all that fuel, and you can’t drain it or transfer it to another car? The car owner ends up with a bonus - free fuel.

Even a quarter tank is a lot. A quarter of a 50-litre tank is 12.25 litres, costing you about Sh2,000. Not a bad deal. A full tank is also rarely given back full! 

But it’s more than just getting bonus fuel. We need to spend more time studying human behaviour.

Who wants to keep fueling the car on a trip? Fill it up!  Two, those who hire cars are unlikely to be hustlers. 

That extra fuel is like a tip, not that significant to the tipper but matters a lot to the recipient. Why won’t to demand back your fuel?

Most Kenyans do not want to be thought of as poor. The popular term, hustler is coded. And clever entrepreneurs know that. 

That is why prices are high in Kenya compared with our neighbours. High prices are associated with status. We even boast of how much we spent on a night out with buddies and worry about the priorities later. Can you deny that? How have you creatively confronted the high cost of living?

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