How to survive January on a shoe-string budget
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Hashtags like #shoptillwedrop and #timetospend were the order of the day on social media during the festive season. But at the end of the festivities marked by extravagant spending, you had more ‘month’ than salary at the end of December! The festivities hangover took a hike on the first day of January. Suddenly, you realised your bank balance is in negative even before you start the new month. Reminders about pending bills like rent clogged your mind; not forgetting ‘back to school’ time is beckoning.
January is here, the 40-day long month of waiting before your next pay cheque. If you are in this situation, fret not because many are in the same boat. And it is not time to cry over spilled milk, blaming your poor finance management habits. That perhaps should be your New Year’s resolution.
Now it is time to sail through January like a seasoned captain who manages to safely dock a ship through heavy hailstorms and water waves. Below is a simple guide to survive January.
So, you got carried away and spent a little more than you should have over the holidays. Normally, you play by the book and are comfortable taking three beers at your local bar and heading straight home. But it was Christmas, and because of that, several individuals at the local joint went home spelling their name backwards, thanks to your generosity.
Now you are wondering why you did that. You don’t even remember who those people were, if you even knew them at all!
Don’t bewail, there’s no point. Instead, have a budget and stick to it. Now’s not the time to go waltzing through clothing stores to see if that bag or jumper is still available because if you can’t afford it, you’ll only torture yourself. Spend on what you absolutely need; mostly food, transport to work (if you use public means) or fuel for the car, phone expenses like airtime; you might want to go slow on the ‘heavy’ internet bundles you seemed so keen on during the festive season. Note down your daily expenses and see what can be avoided, this will help you manage the little cash you have left and see you through this tough month.
No more outings
There’s a good chance that you partied enough to last you a couple of months. So hard you partied that your home guard or househelp thought you were on a mission to abandon your own home.
The invitations are no more, you can now actually have a meal at home. Buy food in the market and ask the house help to cook, as opposed to eating out -it’s costly and at a time like this, you need all the money you can get. It is time to eat all meals at home.
Cut down on expenses
During the festive season, your kids saw you at your finest point; everything they asked for was given to them without hesitation. Now that things are ‘tight’, you can’t afford to get into the car every time they want some ice cream at Makuza Plaza, or take them for the fast food that is not even good for their health. It’s time to go back to the good old peas, beans and other veggies they thought they’d seen the last of. They won’t be happy, but keep telling yourself that you are actually doing them a favour.
The kids love Nickelodeon and Disney. But subscription is a luxury you can’t afford right now; it is time for them to get acquainted with local TV stations. Yes, TV Rwanda isn’t what it used to be, they have some kids shows your little ones perhaps won’t be impressed by, but they will just have to adjust, won’t they?
School is almost starting. Lucky for you, many schools offer an instalment payment programme. So, relax, do not collapse just yet. Figure out how much you need for the first instalment, and put it aside. Resist the urge to ‘pinch’ it because Collateral Beauty is showing at the cinema.
Never be too proud to seek the guidance of someone who is better prepared to deal with these issues. We all have that relative or friend that has it together; not a stagger off the budget line, or a money out of place. It is no secret that they will silently judge you, but if they help you deal with this tough time, who cares? Ask them how to tackle the financial burden. A few tips in the budget would help you avoid January blues.
Embrace something different
It’s a new year. Get with the ‘new year, new me’ programme and find something to do that you didn’t before.
For example, if you are the fine wine/ kind of person, it wouldn’t hurt to try out something cheaper, like beer, may be even water!
Quit bad habits
While we are embracing new things, why not simply take that resolution seriously and quit whatever costly bad habits you may have. Like drinking, or smoking, for example. Some people have been at it for so long, they could easily purchase real estate in Monaco with that money. Better yet, they’d have so much money,January blues would be the last thing they worry about.
Stay safe and healthy
Remember the motos you jumped on with excitement unmatched over the festive season because there were so many shops to go to and not enough time? Yes, try and go slow this time, because should you fall off a speeding one (God forbid), you might not be as excited to look at the hospital bill.
While we are on this subject, now is really not the time to fall sick either. In fact, make a note and pin it up somewhere that diseases are not allowed anywhere near you in January.
Avoid salary advances in January
Whatever the case avoid asking for salary advance at work in January. Asking for salary advance just because you want to keep up with your lifestyle of sausages and bacon is like using paraffin to put out fire. It will put you on a bad footing financially as you start the New Year. Unless it is a serious emergency, keep away from salary advance in January. If anything, avoid being a subject of this guide at the end of 2017, your new year’s resolution should be to start saving in January.
How will you get through January blues?
Michael Odeke, lawyer
Well, it’s not that easy surviving this period, you know January is always tricky after over spending during the festive period.
But I am trying to manage, the good thing is that I planned ahead.
I knew what I was going to spend and also set aside what will support me for this month.
Vianney Muhawenimana, stylist
The festivities are done, and we are now dealing with the hangover from all the partying.
It’s really tough, especially when one has to go back to work immediately.
For this whole week, I have been working half-day and to unwind, I hit the sauna to relax a bit.
I think by next week, I will be relaxed enough to resume my daily routine.
Olivia Karungi, housewife
January is really a hard month to go through, especially with the expenses since most of the money was spent on Christmas and New Year’s Day, life, however, goes on.
I have cut on my usual expenses and I am mostly dealing with the essentials.
Laban Bizimungu, cashier
I am actually surviving; I wouldn’t say the New Year has started off roughly, aside from the fatigue from the festivities, everything is in order.
My finances were well managed and I think I will survive this month without too much hustle.