Living from paycheck to paycheck is easily the norm among many Kenyans. Before one receives their salary, it’s already spent so that when they do get it, they are paying debts for what was already spent on. Although the harsh reality is that a lot of people are earning barely enough to sustain their needs, many defend their non-saving habits by mentioning how little money they earn, and therefore how impossible it is for them to save, what with their bills and all. Most of them don’t know how to save on a low income. Others try to save but stay non-committed to the practice. Below are top nine tips that will help you save money this coming months if observed with discipline and commitment.
1. Monitor your spending
Money tends to be lost when you impulse buy. Impulse buying is a dangerous habit when gotten used to. I know it may be difficult holding on to your coins when you’re walking through town and all you see are hawkers selling everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but it’s important that you do. If not, any extra money you have hanging in your wallet will be spent leaving you broke and without savings.
2. Shop cheap
Cheap is expensive but this is not what I mean when I say “shop cheap”. The same goods tend to have different prices depending on the shop and it’s location. For example, a lot of the middle class in Kenya prefer doing their house shopping at Tuskys Supermarket which they find cheaper than Nakumatt. Also, the same pair of shoe may be more expensive in a mall than in a stall in town.
Clothes, shoes, bags, utensils and many others with surprisingly good quality are cheaper in Gikomba market than anywhere else. Compare prices before shopping.
3. Buy second hand
Buying used stuff saves money as it’s cheaper than buying brand new. A lot of people sell off what they no longer need on social media. Thrift shopping is also a good way of finding used stuff. The most common items that are sold second hand are television sets, radios, furniture, carpets, utensils.
4. Shop in bulk
Groceries can take up so much money if bought frequently. They tend to be expensive when bought singularly and cheap when bought in bulk. There are many markets in Kenya that sell groceries in bulk. For example, you can buy a sack of rice, sugar, beans or green grams instead of buying it in packets in the supermarket. Tomatoes and onions are cheaper when bought in bulk.
5. Set a standing order with your bank
If you have two accounts with the same bank or different banks, you can set a standing order so that money is automatically transferred to your savings accounts immediately your salary account is debited. This ensures you save every month especially for those who lack discipline with saving.
6. Set an emergency fund
Things like accidents and sickness are not planned for. They happen when least expected. You may also be expected to travel for a sudden function. Having an emergency fund to take care of such scenarios helps save a lot of money. There are people who have ended up spending their entire life savings in hospital because they either did not have insurance or lacked an emergency fund.
7. Save loose change
Another tip on how to save on a low income is saving loose change. Many have been surprised to find that they saved quite a lot of money after throwing all their change in a piggy bank for let’s say a year. So buy yourself a piggy bank, or make one, and watch your savings grow!
8. Avoid credit cards
Like we discussed in this article, How to survive January come 2017, use cash instead of credit cards or M-pesa as you are charged to spend your own money. As meager as the charges may seem, when calculated after a long period of time, you may be surprised to discover that you lost a lot of money via transaction charges.
9. Join local savings groups
And finally, you will learn how to save on a low income by joining local savings groups. “Chamas” are very popular. They are ideal for people with bank accounts and those without. Members are expected to save a certain amount every month and then given a lump-sum at the end of a certain number of months, depending on the agreement. When in a “chama”, you end up disciplined even if you weren’t because you are motivated by others in the group.