Wednesday, May 25, 2022

5 tips to lower your living costs

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We are experiencing tough economic times in Kenya and around the world – if we’re being honest. The cost of food and other essential commodities has skyrocketed to unimaginable levels, and this means that a majority of us will have to adjust our lifestyles accordingly in order to live somewhat comfortably.

As we hope for things to get better, here are five suggestions on how we may save money at home.

1. Review current expenses

Start by listing all your monthly expenses, such as rent, food and groceries, transport, airtime, power, water, personal upkeep, and so on. Analyse each item critically, as this will paint a clearer picture of your spending habits and give you an indication of what you can cut back on and what you can do without entirely. 

Memberships and subscriptions are loopholes for spending money unnecessarily because people tend to pay and not utilise these services accordingly. Check how you use your monthly TV subscriptions or gym memberships, and consider cancelling them if they are hardly used or switching to less expensive packages that suit your needs. Upgrade when necessary or over the holidays when you have more time to spare. The same applies to internet services as well.

2. Shopping options

Take the time to identify multiple service providers and retailers for price comparison. Doing this will help you settle on cheaper or more affordable alternatives to fit your budget. Another cost-saving tip is to consider bulk buying. This is becoming increasingly popular in Kenya as more people move towards bulk shopping from wholesalers. This is when one purchases non-perishable items in large quantities to last for months. If you live alone and are concerned about the quantity of the goods, pair up with someone else and split the items with them. 

Don’t shy away from signing up for reward programmes commonly referred to as “points” offered by local supermarkets. They always come in handy when you have stretched your budget, and you can use them to top up the difference. Keep an eye out for daily or weekly bargains on household items frequently advertised by supermarket chains.

Also, start planning your meals on a weekly or monthly basis. A meal plan guides you when grocery shopping, helping reduce food wastage because you only buy what you need for the meals. This is especially true of groceries, which we are all guilty of purchasing in excess from time to time.

3. Outsource help

Releasing your live-in housekeeper and scheduling a cleaner to come in once or twice a week to clean your home is a viable cost-cutting approach if you live alone, have older children, or other adults staying with you. Assign the remaining light responsibilities to the rest of the household. Companies like SweepSouth provide reliable cleaners who can take on such tasks.

“Security and safety are important to us, and all our staff go through thorough vetting before enlisting their services,” says Alisha Rajan, Country Manager for SweepSouth Kenya, an on-demand online home cleaning service platform that connects people with trusted domestic professionals. “We understand the need to have someone trustworthy in your home. Once you’ve given instructions, allow them to carry out their tasks with the confidence that the cleaning will be completed to the utmost standards,” says Alisha. “Focus your time on other responsibilities you may have.” 

For homes with two housekeepers, you could let one go if you can no longer afford both and hire help as and when the need arises. 

4. Save energy

Electricity is one of the most costly but necessary household expenses. Several households experienced a surge in their electricity consumption after the pandemic began because of lockdowns that confined people to their homes. However, things seem to have somewhat gone back to normal, but many people are still working from home, so there is a need to conserve more energy. With so many appliances running on electricity, here are a few ways we can conserve energy and save some money in the long run. 

Switch from the ‘normal’ light bulbs known as incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs as they are more energy-efficient and longer-lasting. Carefully select and use the most energy-efficient settings on your washing machine and run it only once or twice during the week. If you have a dryer, rather hang your clothes outside to dry. Layer up, whether inside or outside the house, to keep warm so that you won’t have to use heaters unnecessarily.

Other small tips, like ensuring the lights are off when not needed, and taking shorter hot showers, go a long way. Cooking in bulk and freezing the food saves gas and time. It also comes in handy on days when you can’t cook for one reason or another, and then you have ready-to-go meals.

5. Lifestyle Adjustments

We all like to enjoy the little joys and comforts that life offers. However, when tough times call, we should be ready to scale down on these luxuries. 

Reduce the number of times you eat out or buy take-outs in a month. It will save you more money and is also a healthier option for you in the long run. Carpool to work or other engagements with a friend or relative who lives in or around your neighbourhood. Share the cost of fuel or alternate cars every week. Examine how much you spend on grooming each month, and do what you can at home.

There are many ways one can cut costs on the home front. However, for this exercise to be successful, honesty with oneself is required to make an informed judgement when making the necessary changes. If you struggle to be honest with yourself or you need assistance, consider engaging a financial planner to help you shift your focus to the right things, put your money into perspective, and give you sound advice.

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