It is an unofficial truth that millions of Kenyans cannot afford one decent meal a day. The economic status of many is poor yet the country's Sh2.1 trillion billion budget makes life even harder as taxation is increased to meet the country's projections in service delivery and development.
With this heavy burden, everyone is feeling the heat of inability to achieve personal financial goals. It is becoming very difficult to survive under this suffocation. So in these difficulties what does one do to cushion oneself from financial meltdown at the home front?
There are a few measures you can take to seal loopholes that allow wastage of resources.
· Buy a new tech fridge, which conserves electricity for ten to 12 hours. So you conveniently switch the fridge off every night without risking food poisoning. This will save you electricity and ensure your tokens run longer. If you have the old fridges that use a belt and mortar to run and you feel them literally sucking electricity, just decommission that fridge and see the difference. In addition, you will eat healthier foods as you will not buy fresh food daily.
· Change from post-paid meter to pre-paid (where you buy tokens and load your metre). In my experience, I have noticed this token business automatically disciplines everyone in the house. The house help who used to switch on every bulb in the house now is at the forefront in conserving electricity. When she leaves a room, the switches off electricity. The TV and radio no longer compete for her attention; she ensures one is off. The water kettle no longer stands with hot water till it cools off, instead the water is kept hot in a flask!
· If you buy water from vendors or a tanker delivers the commodity, change tack and get the owner of the borehole pipe water to your house and pay a monthly bill. For long, a friend bought water which was stored in a 10,000-litre tank in her compound. Wastage was quite high and she ended up buying this volume of water almost monthly at Sh4,000 per delivery. When she got piped water late last year, that amount has reduced to Sh1,300 on average per month. Yet the household has not changed. She monitors the metre and keeps reminding the family to stop wasting water. She believes that bill can go down to Sh800 and she is working on reducing it.
· Come up with a daily menu for the family. I have seen some people who cook three different meals for supper. "So-and-so does not eat githeri, so we are making chapati for her." Take this off the list of options and cook what everyone eats. It is cheaper and saves time.
· You drive a car and so does your partner? Try as much as possible to use one especially if you work in the same direction. Apart from the comfort, convenience and prestige a car gives you, it hogs your money. Thus car pooling can save you that tidy sum which you can use to feed your family.
· Airtime squanders a lot of money. Find out how much you spend in one week. Discipline yourself on usage. I have seen people spending more than 20 minutes on one call to a friend. It is okay to hear a friend or family member's voice often but you can cut the length of time. Use other cheaper options such as SMSes, e-mail, Whatsapp and other social media platforms to keep them abreast with what you are up to.
· If you do not work in town and are going there to run a few errands, just jump into a matatu, have your businesses sorted out and hop back. You will cut a day of stress in the heavy traffic especially in Nairobi and the hassle of looking for parking in a packed city.
· Finally, let your dependants know that these are hard economic times and business will not be as usual. Remember, as you become pragmatic with your expenditure, do not abandon your core commitment of saving.
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