Plan well to have the best austerity Christmas

It is still possible for you to have all the best time as you have always had during previous festive seasons. Photo / courtesy 

What you need to know:

  • As the economy recovered from the mess created by Covid-19, Ebola struck to make things worse. Therefore, as we close 2022, it is important that we take caution given the uncertainty that continue to make life difficult for many Ugandans.  

When you look at the economy right not, it is still crawling out of the Covid-19 mess, the chaos brought by floods in different parts of the country and Ebola, which worsened has things. Yes, worse than they were this time last year.  

Sure enough, it has taken a good beating and the Central Bank has issued several austerity measures all in the name of keeping the situation manageable before it gets out of hand. 

Unfortunately, that has in one way, affected both income and spending habits yet many still want to lavish their families to close off what has been a difficult year. 

However, as you format out things you might want to consider certain things to ride you through the storm. 

Keep bills within manageable limits 

Flavia Nabukwasi, a financial advisor with Money Be Wiser, says there are some small yet critical things that families need to watch out for this festive season. 

For instance, she says, January and the subsequent months to April, are always difficult for most families. Therefore, there is need to keep bills, especially for utilities, within manageable limits.  

“Turn off the taps well to avoid water from leaking,” Nabukwasi says. 

And while this is not necessarily about Christmas, she says, the festive season comes with several visitors who might eventually have a big impact on utilities. 

For instance, she says, unnecessary flushing should be preached around the house, especially to children. 

Beyond water are the electricity bills, which, according to Milka Mugume, a financial advisor, can be burdensome seeing that the holidays are longer. 

Electricity is consumed in incremental amounts. Lights in bedrooms and security lights that light throughout the day are a burden on consumption in so many ways. 

“Caution children and remind adults to watch out for lights that are not being used to cut back on consumption,” she says.

Host parities out

The festive season is ordinarily known for big budget parties. 

However, this year, Nabukwasi says, have a budget that includes going out instead of hosting parties at home. 

“But even then, ensure that you go out with only what you need. That way, unprecedented expenditures will be avoided,” she says. 

However, Nabukwasi says, it is important that you have meals prepared from home for the family because eating out continuously eventually becomes costly. 

“You can always cook nice food at home and enjoy it. If you need to go for an outing, first prepare your meals and eat then head out,” she says. Additionally, Mugume says, you can also pack food and head out for a picnic. 

“It will allow you to enjoy the outside without spending hundreds of thousands of money,” she says.

Invite manageable numbers

African families are usually big and the size gets even bigger during festivities as friends join in in the mix.  Therefore, the possibility of food budgets shooting up is always high. 

However, as you ride through the hard times, Nabukwasi says, you ought to normalise inviting people that fit your budget. 

“It is important to remember that there are other bills to cater for beyond festivities and only spend on what is needed not what is wanted,” she says.

Learn how to bargain

In Uganda, majority of our shopping places are informal setups, which gives you an opportunity to bargain.  Therefore, during this season, assume the habit of bargaining rather than taking whatever price you are given. 

When you bargain, discounts will come through, say eventually buying a dress at Shs300,000 instead of Shs500,000. 

“It takes special tactics to bargain down prices during festive seasons. However, it is not impossible. Do it this Christmas,” Mugume says.

Additionally, it is important that you look out for discounted goods because it is around this time that people seek to maximise sales by offering discounts. 

However, even with all the price reductions, you should remember to ask yourself if you need that item before you cash in on it. 

“In no way should the discounts, no matter how big they are, fool you into buying things you do not need. Otherwise, you will be spending money that you would have used to get something you need,” Nabukwasi says. 

However, it is also important to note that at times, some of the food stuffs sold on discount have a few days to expire. 

Therefore, it is important that you check the expiry date as you make the purchases so that you make an informed decision. 

Either you buy and use it before it is unusable or do not buy at all.

Write down your shopping list 

Just like you need a budget for those outings, meaning you have detailed the items you need for that outing, so should you when going for shopping. 

Write out what you intend to buy so that you are not taken over by the festive buying frenzy. 

“If you need to get any item that was not earlier on the list, look for an item on your list that you can either replace or reduce in quantity to accommodate the new item. With that, you will spend within your budget,” Nabukwasi says.

Travel less 

Times are hard, so, you and your family need every coin that can be spared.  Therefore, if it is not an emergency, it is not written anywhere that you must travel to the village for the festivities. 

Technology has afforded the world an opportunity. So, use it in the best way possible. 

Instead of buying things and taking them to your parents in the village, send them mobile money. 

Of course, this takes away the fun of being with family, but it makes a lot of sense because you can save on transport at a time when charges go through the roof.