How to cut costs while shopping for Christmas

Thursday December 20 2018

In downtown Kampala, this is the time to get a

In downtown Kampala, this is the time to get a bargain on everything, especially presents. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa 

By George Katongole

Christmas shopping can be a big headache yet the days are numbered. Getting the perfect items in a town that is so crammed with stuff on the street and people requires skill and knowledge. Beat the hustle by getting the best value for your hard earned money.

Getting around town
With a lot of congestion, one may be stuck in traffic jam for hours, which leads to time wasting. For office workers, who may need to escape for some minutes before returning to office, the phone is the best companion. One needs to download any of the Safe Boda, Taxify, Dial Jack, Uber or Mondo Ride apps. This is a cheaper way of getting about town safely. For the safety conscious people in a hurry, these improved boda boda services are a bargain. A trip around town is usually half the price of normal boda bodas. The trick is to order your boda boda during off peak hours when the base cost is low.
Using commuter services of the taxi is still the old way of cutting your expenditures but it is advisable to take advantage of off-peak hours to run errands.

For people who work in the city, obtaining affordable food is a hustle. If you are new in town, do not spend an arm and leg for food or settle for junk. There are several budget places around town which even the middle-class people you admire throng for lunch. Most of these meals are between Shs3,000 to Shs5,000 depending on the accompanying sauce. That is if you get hungry while still in town.

But if you plan on shopping for food, there are several roadside markets where foodstuff such as matooke, cassava, and sweet potatoes, among others are sold. Kaleerwe, Bwaise, Nakawa and Kireka markets have made a niche for selling cheap foodstuffs, vegetable and fruits. A sizeable bunch of matooke at Kaleerwe for instance sells for between Shs8,000 and Shs15,000. If you need cheap beef supply, the trick is to go to the abattoirs. Also, in Kirinya, just behind Namboole Stadium, a kilogramme of beef is usually Shs2,000 cheaper and can go for Shs10,000.

There is a growing number of clothing suppliers and boutiques around town. The only limitation is price.
However, Kiyembe, just near the Old Taxi Park is the masterstroke if you want a good bargain and quality. Christmas time calls for choirs to change uniforms, yet some people want their clothing tailor made. Some shops like at Ham Plaza also have quality second hand clothing. A nice t-shirt costs about Shs15,000 if you compare to imports from China or India that could go for about Shs40,000. For those looking for African fabric, buying your pieces is one way, but shops along Buganda Road and the National Theatre, have several outlets for ready-made clothing.

Looking beautiful is part of Christmas. But premium looks come at a cost yet there are far more appealing and cheap options. Top of the range salons in the city charge as much as Shs25,000 for a a hair cut for men. For women, braiding costs as much as Shs100,000, which could put a huge dent in the Christmas budget. You can walk a few metres away from the glitzy salons and get a bargain.
At Gazaland in Kampala, there are young ladies that make your hair look great for as low as Shs40,000. The beauty about these spots is that they are easily accessible to the masses. The chairs, noisy environment and congestion will not offer the comfort you may be used to but you will definitely get a bargain.

Car parts
Most people will most likely spend the festive days driving their cars. However, there is no need to break the bank for your vehicle’s spare parts. In the notorious Kisekka market and Katwe, you will have good bargains. Everything you ever needed, be it accessories, is readily available. The most popular is for cars of Japanese make although even spares for European cars are available. There is usually no guarantee, which means you must be careful to avoid being trapped by the sweet talking sellers.
The trick is to always move with someone who knows the area well. Also, go to the various shops to compare prices and available parts in order to make the best buy. This will ensure that you do not buy overpriced items.

Household items
This is the time of the year when most people restock their kitchenware and bathroom appliances. Kikuubo market has a vast supply of household appliances at pocket friendly prices. The Asian shops too, have a variety of supplies suited for your kitchen and bathroom. You can save a good buck when buying from these shops. Supermarkets have plenty of such supplies but the trick is to make a saving. Watch out for products that are on promotion. However, be vigilant because the town is full of errant folk who deal in fake products, especially during this time. For the lights - Neons, LEDs, chandeliers and desk lights, Kiyembe is a must visit.

The city centre is a hub of different television and types and sizes. Most people will obviously be shopping for new TV sets. The starting point is on your phone. Online Jumia, Masikini, GulaOnline, OLX and Kikuu offer great deals. But the best idea is to look out for promotions as selected products such as TVs seem to be on clearance sales at this time of the year. Do not fall for fakes during this time.

At the Container Village in downtown Kampala, shoes are in abundance and cheap. Here you will find very nice and comfortable shoes that will blow you away. Most of the shops uptown, which sell used shoes actually obtain their merchandise from here. From heels to boots, ladies are pretty much sorted and with as little as Sh20,000 one can walk away with a pair or two. Men are also not left out as the variety means they can also get a feel of nice and affordable shoes. Canvas and leather shoes are very common and cost from the region of Sh20,000. If you are the type who thinks a step or two ahead, this is the best season to buy next term’s shoes for your children.

Make a budget
• The first step to sticking to a budget is to make one. So sit down with a pen and paper and work out what you can afford. Work out how much money you have to spend then write a list of everything you need to spend money on such as decorations; presents and food.
• Then once you know everything you need to buy, split how much money you have into each category and assign an amount to each.
Avoid last-minute costs
It might sound obvious, but leaving things until the last minute will not only make for a stressful festive season but it could also make Christmas even more expensive.

• Plan for next year
But before you sit back, spare a thought for next Christmas. A little bit of forward planning could leave you in a much better position next December.
• Consider opening a savings account and setting aside a little bit of money each month so you have a bit more to spend next year.