There are only two ways about it: if you want to have more money in your pocket you need to:
Saving money is the most readily available option for most people: even today you can save yourself money but to make more money you likely need more time.
Yesterday I had plans for going into town to buy a few things that I thought I desperately needed but I was also very tired so in the end weariness won and I stayed at home all day and spent no money at all.
Of course, we all have to spend some money to keep our homes running but by going to the right places to do your shopping you can save several thousand kwacha monthly.
Once a month one of my friends goes to three shops to check the prices of the things she needs to buy and she buys every item where it’s cheapest. She goes to Game, Shoprite and Chipiku, however, I recommend you also try the market because fresh fruit and vegetables are much cheaper there.
It seems like a lot of work for a monthly exercise but at the rate that prices are rising it’s so necessary. For most of us salaries are staying stable but prices continue to rise almost daily which means we’re getting poorer and poorer by the day. This shopping-around-routine is much easier than it sounds; you just need to get into the habit.
Write a list of everything that you need.
Plan your shopping-around day, let’s say you choose the third Saturday of every month. First thing in the morning go to the market and buy all your fruit and vegetables, potatoes and legumes (peas, beans, nandolo).
The butchers in the market are also more willing to give you a competitive price for good cuts of meat and fresh fish. Many butchers have a mincing machine so you can save money and control the quality of meat that goes into your minced meat by having it minced in front of you.
After you’re done with the market, go to Game and Shoprite. Note the price of the remaining items that you need. For the record, note down how much you saved by buying your fruits and vegetables at the market.
After Game and Shoprite make for Chipiku stores or Metro. Most things will be cheaper here so it’s best to leave these store last as you’ll buy your items knowing what they cost at Game and Shoprite.
Make The Most of Discount Day
Once a week Game have great product discounts. If you find something that you regularly buy on offer buy it in bulk. Around Christmas time Handy Andy was cut so low that several of my friends stocked up for the whole of 2013!
Remember though, when you see the word “sale” in shops, what that really means is “spend” because they are trying to lure you in to buy things on sale which you may never have intended to purchase to boost their bottom line. Once there it is difficult to resist many other “bargains” and before you know it your budget is blown. So unless you were waiting for that specific product to come on sale (and you knew the pre-sale price) don’t spend just because of the word “sale”.
Make The Most of Business trips
Toiletries are atrociously expensive in Malawi. If you have the opportunity to travel then buy them abroad. You will find face washes, body washes, cleansers and toners for up to one-tenth of the price that they are sold for in Malawi.
With a little planning and foresight you can and you will save thousands of kwacha. At times it takes a lot of patience but it’s the price you have to pay to make ends meet.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.