To survive in Nairobi, you have to learn the simple art of money management. At the crux of money management is saving. As a renter, you need to have enough savings to cushion you in case you lose your job or your employer delays your salary payment. You must go above and beyond to save the little you get or find ways to make more. As the saying goes, spend less or make more. Below are a few simple ways in which you save money as a renter in Nairobi.
1. Side hustle
If you are going to live in this town comfortably then you should know not to expect that your salary will be enough. Your salary will be taxed extensively. Nairobi’s life will kick you in the wallet. In some cases, because of the economy, your employer might have trouble paying you on time. There are people who have had their salaries slashed by as much as 50%. If there ever was a time to get a little side income, this is it. The thing about Nairobi is that there is plenty of opportunity for this. You can sell things online. You can find weekend event management gigs. Point is that there is a lot you can do and you should do it.
It is always best to pay the least possible amount in rent. Anything more than a quarter of your salary is risky, if you get to a third of it then you are pushing it. There are many living options in Nairobi where you would be comfortable, safe but not spend a huge chunk of your salary. Housing in Roysambu is pretty good. It is affordable. It is also comfortable and safe. The commute will be fairly manageable. Less rent allows you to save on one of your biggest expenditures. Low rent could also mean less spending on things like power, food, and water.
Speaking of food, there are so many options for takeout eating in Nairobi. There are even options to have the food delivered right to your doorstep. It is so easy to never use your kitchen for anything other than some evening tea. However, what you do not realize is that this is burning through your money. You could take one hour to cook and save a lot of money. If you order food, it will take about a half-hour or more depending on where you live. If you decide to cook, it will take about the same amount of time or a little bit more. In terms of money though, take out is at least 300 shillings. Chances are that you would not be sated let alone have any food left for the next day. If you cook, that same amount could buy you enough food and still have some left over for a packed lunch. This is another thing, consider packed lunches instead of buying food every day.
Bulk buying means bulk discounts. Here is an example, three big ripe tomatoes go for 20 shillings. If you buy tomatoes worth 50 shillings, you get eight or nine pieces depending on how generous the grocer is. If you buy tomatoes worth 100 shillings, you get 19 pieces. This applies to all groceries. A kilo of maize flour is 70 shillings while a two-kilo bag of maize flour is 130 shillings. If you buy the two-kilo bag you save 10 shillings for every bag you buy. One piece of tissue is 30 shillings, if you buy the two it will cost you 50 shillings. The four-pack is 100 shillings. The bigger the pack you buy, the more you save. This means that you will do your shopping, say, once every two or three months. An additional perk is that you will have fewer chances for impulse buys thus saving more money. The amounts might seem small with 10 shillings here and 20 someplace else. But, if you aggregate these amounts you will find that you are actually saving quite a bit.
This is not something you can do without. There are multiple apps that you can use to help develop a budget that is suitable for your lifestyle and salary. The same apps can help keep track of your spending so that you do not go overboard with expenditures. Your budget should account for everything from rent to food to transport and even entertainment. Making the budget will probably be the easiest part. Keeping to it will be way harder especially if you are used to a particular kind of lifestyle.
6. Energy saving
Apart from your rent, your utility bill will be another major bother. Most landlords take on the water bill and you will therefore not be bothered with it. In other cases, you will be required to pay a fixed amount every month. In this instance, there is nothing you can do about the water bill. However, there is plenty you can do to ensure that you are using fewer power units every day and therefore paying less. That means getting efficient bulbs for your house. These use significantly less power. You should also keep an eye on the passive consumption of power. This is every electronic left on but that is not in use. It is the water heater left on. It is light left on for hours but is not in use. Be mindful of how long your hot showers run. This same level of proactive preservation should be exercised by every member of the household.
A roommate will be a companion. A roommate will help you cover the bills. With a roommate, you can live in a more expensive address that is closer to your place of work. This will reduce your cost of commuting. You will save even more money. Make sure to get a good reliable roommate who you can trust. Also, before you make the decision to get one think about if you are the kind of person to have a roommate. Some people do not do well with roommates and you could be one of them.
8. Low cost of living
Different neighborhoods have different levels of living costs. You could not compare the cost of living in Runda with the cost in Githurai. The target customers are in different financial classes and therefore have different levels and forms of price sensitivity. This is why the cost of living varies. Therefore, you should choose a neighborhood with a low cost of living. Find a neighborhood where you can buy a week’s worth of groceries for 500 shillings or less.
If you work in town but live in Syokimau and use the train, you will use at least 100 shillings every day on transport to work. You might also pay about 50 shillings for a motorbike to the train station. That is a total of 150 shillings every day. If you work 5 days a week, you will spend 3000 shillings every month on transport only. This is exclusive of when you miss the train or the motorbikes hike the fare during the rainy season. However, if you live in Kawangware in a one-bedroom house that goes for about 12,000 shillings, you will spend 100 shillings every day on transport. The buses that ply that route do not base their fares on the weather. The point here is to find affordable living within a reasonable distance of your workplace so that you can manage both the rent and transport costs.
10.Embrace second hand
You have options when it comes to furnishings for your house. You could get your furniture from auctions. You could also go around looking for second-hand furniture shops. You will not have to look too long. You should also consider second-hand clothing. You can get some great stuff without suffering the debilitating and sticky mud of Gikomba market. Just find shops like Think Twice and you will have everything from shirts to blazers and even duvets at very low prices. A duvet in town will set you back 3000 shillings. A second-hand one will cost you nothing more than 100 shillings. Words of caution though, look out for bedbugs. Bot second-hand clothes and furniture can carry bedbugs. If you bring a single egg to your house there will be a full-blown infestation within a week.
Second-hand shopping is great and will save you a lot of money. However, be careful about your buying habits. Do not go on a binge and buy everything all at once. Get a shirt today and a pair of pants tomorrow. Space out your purchases. The furnishing should be planned well ahead. Do not forget to include these purchases in your budget. Impulse buys do not go well with Nairobi living because there will always be something to buy.
The more you save, the more comfortable you will be. You never know when you will need that safety net. Be disciplined. Be wise. Be financially secure.