The financial crisis that started in the United States now seems to have reached Africa and more so Rwanda. This is evident by the low purchasing power of the Rwandan franc.
As individuals we therefore have to be careful on the way we spend whatever little money we get. We have to make lifestyle choices and choose what we really need.
No matter the kind of lifestyle we live, lifestyle choices should not bar us from being conscious consumers.
Instead we should re-analyse our discretionary income – money left over after meeting our primary needs – to ensure that we are spending it in line with what is most important to our families and to us.
Impulse buying or the latte factor is the extra money we spend on items that we have not budgeted for.
For some, it could be the fancy restaurant you dine in or the addictive caffeine at your favourite coffee house.
It could be the seemingly inconsequential items such as cigarettes, soft and hard drinks, magazines or newspapers.
The best and probably only way to monitor these small expenses is to keep a spending journal and track every expense.
Adding these figures up over a long period of time, for example six months will show how much we are spending. A figure of 5000 frw every week adds up to 20,000 frw a month and almost 240,000 frw per year.
This is money that could be put towards the family’s emergency fund or into a children’s savings account or more so invest in a small business for a young person.
If you subscribe to pay TV, publications or newspapers, consider ways of accessing the services without spending your own money.
Many offices, restaurants and beauty salons buy the papers and popular magazines and therefore you can read them while enjoying there services.
Most newspapers are available on the internet for free and in most libraries.
As for satellite TV, unless very necessary, it is possible to suspend the service for a couple of months and resume at will. Another option is to switch to one of the less expensive packages that suit your needs.
If you are a member of a club or gym and you do not use the gym or facilities very frequently, it is advisable to pay per visit as opposed to a monthly or quarterly rate.
Entertainment is crucial in the way we spend our money. Cut down the weekly dinner rates in favour of a home cooked meal alternatively, make one of your favourite dishes at home and invite friends over.
Ask them to bring an accompaniment or a dessert. A few candles and some nice music in the background will save you some hard earned cash.
If you go for weekly beauty treatments such as facials, manicures, and pedicures; consider cutting down to just one visit a month.
You should get your own facial masks and nail kits and pick one night a week to do your nails. You will not only be cutting down on your beauty expenses but you will also have the assurance of using your own products as opposed to those that have been used by other clients.
During these hard times where the world economy is experiencing a recession, we need to sacrifice on some of the things we spent on before that is unnecessary and take bold measures on our spending in order to keep ourselves from the vicious cycle of poverty.