Surviving ‘Njaanuary’: Kenyans Already On Survival Mode After Festivities

Written by on 2 January 2024

It’s only the second day of the New Year – and many Kenyans are already having to be quite frugal with their coins.

Martha Mong’ina, a resident of Pipeline estate in Nairobi, and who just returned from the village after Christmas, says she is suddenly very broke.

It doesn’t help that schools are just about to open, and her last month’s rent is yet to hit the landlord’s account. She has no idea when she will pay her December rent. 

“Nothing goes to waste this January, every spending is almost ‘measured’ with a ruler,” she says with a smile.

It’s a necessary adjustment Martha has had to preach to her three children and house help.

“January is generally a tough month for most families. It’s a very long month and brings with it many financial demands like school fees and rent,” she says.

“I will only be focusing on paying part of the school fees for my children, and basic needs like food,” she says.

The single mother, just like many other Kenyans, hope that things will normalize around March.

Martha however derives some satisfaction from the fact that she already bought some school textbooks for her children from street vendors.

On her part, Valarie Akinyi and her husband have just released their house help who would take home Ksh.7,000 monthly.

They have also cut down significantly on home budget spending for January.

“I am not making those trips to the salon, neither am I having my nails done this month. I’ll keep it natural and simple for a bit,” she told Wananchi Reporting.

“Our money will only go towards food, school fees and bus fare just so we can get to work,” said Valerie.

Valerie and her husband – have also decided to slow down on their philanthropic acts until things stabilize. Relatives and friends who have always called asking for financial assistance will have to persevere – says Valerie.

Others like Josiah Kibe, have the company voucher to thank.  

“I received Ksh.15,000 company voucher in December, and I kept it for January. This voucher is my life saver,” he says – adding that he will only spend money on fuel, and Sukuma wiki.

Many Kenyans will no doubt be making adjustments to survive this January.

According to Herma Kio, a financial expert in Nairobi, the journey to surviving January should always start in December when you receive your salary.

“Surviving January should be less painful if you did set aside money for rent, transport, water, electricity and food upon receiving your salary in December,” Kio told Wananchi Reporting – noting that many people don’t do this in December.

“Should you find yourself broke in January, which is what happens 90 percent of the time, then consider tightening your spending.

“You can start by regulating your meals; only eating one or two meals a day. Avoid expensive brands and consider shopping in wholesale shops where prices of commodities are much lower,” says Kio.

Kio notes that life is much easier for people who start planning for their holidays right from January; setting aside a small amount of money specifically for holidays.

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