How to manage a household on a budget

From sometime last year, Kenyans have experienced the heat with the ever-increasing prices of basic food commodities and other essentials such as cooking gas.

You walk into a shop or the supermarket and when you buy an item, you realize that the price has increased from the previous time you bought it.

The situation has made it difficult for many families to cope, something that made individuals protest about the high cost of living in the country driven by a spike in the cost of basic commodities, including electricity and fuel.

Using the hashtag #lowerfoodprices, Kenyans have criticized the government for failing to stem the rise in the prices of everyday items which they say has made life unbearable.

Jane Mwenda, a security officer at a certain local supermarket and a mother of two says she is struggling to put food on the table as her monthly salary cannot buy as much as it could a few months ago and also cater for the house rent.

“Taking care of the family has become hard enough considering that there are many bills to be paid and food to purchase. The price of goods has really gone up. I have to do menial jobs such as washing clothes for customers in and close to our neighborhood in order to at least supplement my husband’s income. It’s a tough balance,” says Jane.

With this challenge experienced in many households, it is wise to come up with a household budget to enable you to manage your money. The key to budgeting is spending less money than you earn. When you spend less than you earn, you can start saving money.

How to create and manage a budget

Here are some ways to create and manage a budget that you can stick to and provide your family with what they need.

Track Your Spending Habits. Note how you currently spend your money. This will allow you to realize when you are spending a little more in a category than you would ideally like.

Set a Realistic Budget. Budgets can be tricky, so set one that you can be comfortable with. Look for areas where you think you could possibly cut back to increase the amount of money going into investments and/or savings.

Think of the Long Term, as well as the Short. The week-to-week or month-to-month planning is necessary. However, planning ahead for emergencies is equally important.

Look for Ways to Increase Savings. If you are a full-time employee, you can look for other side hustles that you can do on the side during your free time that can earn you some extra cash which you can save up for other use.

Schedule Bill-Paying Days. Setting aside a time when you can really focus on getting things paid and taking care of anything else is important. Whether it’s the same day every week or the 15th and the 30th of every month, be sure to make it consistent. 

Spend Time Reevaluating Your Budget. Budgets change as the needs of your family change. Be prepared to make adjustments to your budget after several months of giving it a go.

Use a List When Shopping. One of the best ways to stick to a budget is through the use of lists. Before you even walk through the door of the shop or supermarket, write down what it is you are going to purchase. Take the list with you and only purchase those items.

Sources: Zameen, my money coach, raising children, modern mom

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