January is not a myth

14Jan 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
January is not a myth

Tanzanians love the festive season and all the dramas it brings. During this time, everyone spends money, be it on travel upcountry on holidays, shopping, drinking and partying.

Most people tend to use the jolly season as an excuse to splurge on things they wouldn’t usually do, ending up spending beyond means. Overindulging in shopping, food and drinks is so often matched by overdoing our spending; thus, the first part of the year turns into a damage repair exercise of personal finances.

During the festive season, Tanzanian's social media pages go bizarre with videos and pictures of people partying from morning to morning. It is like a marathon of who parties most. We have all seen a recent video of people partying with a wheelbarrow full of liquors. Yes, a wheelbarrow.

Fast-forward, three weeks later, people will start complaining about being broke. Social media posts flips from ‘party scenes’ to people pleading with Headmasters and Landlords for patience. Behold, ‘Njaa-nuary’ has arrived!

Six weeks in a month

For most workers, January seems to oddly have six weeks because many employers pay salaries in the middle of December. By the time Christmas arrives, there will likely be five more weeks before the next paycheque.  Still, for parents, January means back-to-school, hence fees, uniforms, books, and stationery have to be paid for out of December's salary and for some, rents are due.

The case of touching a hot stove, again and again

One might think the sobering experience of running out of cash and being broke in previous ‘Januarys’ years prior, would have been a lesson for people to better manage their finances, but all is in vain.

The festive season can be financially taxing; with all the festive sales, deals and discounts, it's easy to get off track and let your holiday spending get away from you. To become more conscious, it is crucial to develop a budget and stick to it.

List the priority areas for December, look at the critical ones for January and see how best to resolve them. Budgeting while everyone else is partying sounds basic and boring, but it is the best way forward.

Those with stable sources of income should make savings for December their annual New Year's resolution. Whether it is a ‘Piggy Bank’ or a particular bank account for the holiday season, try to develop a monthly deposit plan that will give you a financial cushion at the year-end. Village Community Banks (Vicoba) are another way out. Forming a savings club, like Vicoba , could be one way of ensuring an extra income at the end of the year...read more on https://epaper.ippmedia.com