From brands to basics, a guide to frugality

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BY DAVID ONJILI

It is self evident that Kenyans are currently going through tough economic times. Job losses, delayed salaries, higher taxes and escalated cost of living are the mare a majority has to put up with. This unprecedented cost of living has not been met by a resultant increase in basic salaries or minimum wages and thus it is time Kenyans really learnt to make do in these harsh times.

Frugality must not be confused with being misers or cheap slates. It is time to assess your expenditure budgets with some magnifying glasses. Like any budget, the income and expenditure columns must keenly be monitored by individuals to ensure they live within their means. You must analyze the income you have and ensure that your living expenses do not exceed this because that will amount to living beyond your means. In the same breadth, you should be able to have some savings that will come good when an emergency arises.

One of the simplest ways to track your expenditure is by sitting down each evening and writing down all the expenses you incurred in a single day. If you keenly observe how and where you spend money you will realize that you spend on things we can do without, it could be that unnecessary bar of chocolate daily or mug of coffee. Daily monitoring of expenditure at an individual level exposes your mind to items you can eliminate and thus subsequently save on the overall monthly budget.

Window-shop before actual purchase.

There is actually nothing wrong with walking around several shops to seek where the commodities are cheaper. By doing so, you will clearly notice price variations in same products at different stores.  It is from this that you must practice to be penny wise or remain pound-foolish.

Shop from bulk retailers and avoid big name supermarkets. While it is a fad to be seen walking into malls and subsequently supermarkets then pushing trolleys, the reality is that a number of basic household commodities are far expensive inside supermarkets and the same can be purchased at up to 20% discount at selected retail shops.

A point to consider is that a number of retailers do offer quantity discounts. So if you want to purchase cereals or flour, doing so will be cheaper from a bulk retailer than purchasing frequently and in smaller quantities.

Avoid the brands fallacy

In the grand scheme of things, product marketing plays around with the emotions of the buyers. Two almost similar toothpaste brands will be advertised and priced differently such that the customer may end up purchasing the most expensive brand due to emotional connection with the brand and not purpose it will serve. Frugality is the ability to avoid this emotional trap and buy what you need for its purpose.

A majority of these similar products have same ingredients and are produced similarly; the difference only arises in the brand naming, packaging and emotional adverts to push sales. Avoid this trap and save more.

Shopping online

How can you not try this especially in this era of smart phones and affordable Internet services? Almost all sellers are moving from physical to online shops? The catch is to be careful and not fall into the trap of fraudsters. Do due diligence before committing your hard earned money. Overall, online shopping is the new frontier.

There has been a massive rise in online shopping platforms in the country. From Jumuia, Alladin to Masoko and Kilimall. These platforms provide shoppers with convenient means of shopping from the comfort of their houses or offices or on the go. Key is for the shopper to ascertain that the goods shopped for online and those delivered are similar in quality. The only downside to online shopping is the fact that the goods do not arrive immediately but with patience it is value for money.

Pool and purchase in bulk

Nothing beats bulk purchase because of the quantity discount that as a consumer you will receive. Certain household commodities like cereals and grains not to mention sugar can be purchased in bulk between several families and then shared appropriately. The objective is to approach the wholesaler as a single buyer and enjoy the massive quantity discount that will be on offer.

Always bargain

Just because there is a price tag on an item does not mean you cannot seek a bargain. By simply asking, the seller will be able to tell you if they do or don’t allow bargaining on items. Through bargaining, you may be able to purchase items at slightly discounted prices.

In the grand scheme of things, the ability to spend hard earned money wisely is the cornerstone of financial prudence and a happy life. Once you master some of the mentioned tricks, you will be able to comfortably live and enjoy yourself in these harsh economic times. Interestingly, people will think you gained a salary increase while in actual sense you just became frugal. It is worth trying.