So you ate your December salary and finished it by January 1. And now it seems like four thousand days till payday. There is no need to panic; I am a professional January survivor and I can get you through this if you are willing to take my advice.
The first thing you need to have done (and maybe I should have said this in December) is to stock up on food before going on a spending spree. That way, if all else fails they won’t find you lying face down on the ground clutching the mouse you were planning to eat as a last resort.
If you didn’t stock up on food, there is no need to worry; there are still ways to make it through. To begin with, you can reduce your food intake. God knows you need to after glutting yourself during the festive season.
Or else you can start visiting people at meal time. You have to show up unannounced because people become mean in January. If you call first they might tell you that they are not at home. So just show right before lunch time and refuse to leave until you are fed.
Some people can be quite cunning and they will bring you black tea while they hide in the kitchen eating food. Refuse to fail. Spend the night if necessary, but do not leave until you have had a proper meal.
If you have mouths to feed, ship them off to a rich relative in the name of bonding with their cousins. If that isn’t an option, give them the freedom to visit their friends in the neighbourhood. Spread them out. But always, always close to meal time.
If you spent the money for rent, woe unto you. The landlord/lady will be relentless with their demand for payment. My advice is to be strong-hearted.
You can employ different tactics like leaving early and coming back late or wearing a disguise. You can tell your children to welcome the landlord/lady at the door and address him/her as uncle/grandma-any title befitting a relative of the landlord’s age in a bid to insinuate kinship to soften their heart.
You can ensure that the landlord/lady finds you doing yard work like trimming the hedge; anything that he/she usually pays other people to do. That way, you will come off as a good tenant, delayed payment notwithstanding.
If you live five kilometers or less within the city do away with transportation costs by walking home. Not only will you become healthier, you will also gain the advantage of having enough time to take in Kigali in all its beauty.
Whatever you do, do not under any circumstances borrow money. January is long and that’s bad. But you know what’s worse? A long year. And trust me it will be a long year if you have to play catch up from one month to the next. And borrowing in January will definitely create a debt cycle.
Hopefully, the struggle for survival in January this year will lead to better choices in December.