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January blues- The party is over, in come the bills 

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th January 2009 03:00 AM

THE best time of the year 2008 has ended. Yes, Christmas and the festivities of the New Year have ended. If you are anything like me, the year ended with invitations to party after party.

THE best time of the year 2008 has ended. Yes, Christmas and the festivities of the New Year have ended. If you are anything like me, the year ended with invitations to party after party.

By Lucy Parwot

THE best time of the year 2008 has ended. Yes, Christmas and the festivities of the New Year have ended. If you are anything like me, the year ended with invitations to party after party.

Of course, if you are still in your prime, you would have endeavoured to attend them all, otherwise, you sieve through them and go for only the ones you think are going to be worth it.

Even work was slack by the end of last week, but this week, it is back to being with your nose to the grindstone. It is back to getting up an hour earlier because the dreaded traffic jams resumed this week. It is back to normal life – or is it?

Normal, except for the bank account. Do not read that line and start thinking to yourself: “What’s poor Lucy to do?” I bet most of you reading this are in the same boat I am. The end of the year is about spend, spend and spend some more.

And, as if last year was not lesson enough, I know come the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, I will do the same thing.

But for now, it is going to be serious budgeting until the January salary is posted into the account. Man, what a long month it is going to be!

I appreciate that my bosses realise I have to prepare and plan for the festive season, but December salary in the middle of the month? What were they thinking?

Come the first week of January, the money left on the account is just enough for me to barely scrape through January.

It is that time when every time you leave home, you pray: “Lord, let me not step on someone’s tomatoes today. Let the housegirl not call to say: ‘Daddy’s special coffee is finished’ or ‘there is very little fabric softener left.’”

Well, even if it is, she had better pray that the Good Lord above can multiply it so that it will last until the end of January with a little bit left to spare. Or, what the heck! ‘Daddy’ will just have to do with the cheaper coffee until all is back to normal come the end of the month.

There is definitely no compromising with the baby, so instead of going for a full manicure every weekend, it will have to be: “No ssebo, today just paint the nails.”
As for my crowning glory, it will have to be a visit after two weeks, instead of every weekend.

Even braiding it at this point is unthinkable — the sh30,000 I would have used for it can go a long way before my cash-flow improves.

So, there is going to be no over-indulgence with that left-over wine from the festive season, and ‘Daddy’ will have to make do with one bottle of beer while watching TV, instead of the usual three.

Thank God the DStv payment is on until these January cash blues lift. And, better still, I have no family or close friend’s birthdays and other anniversaries to celebrate.

Drat! I had forgotten that there was still a spill-over of weddings this month and if I am not mistaken, I have at least one that I have to make a sensible contribution to. That just cuts down my costs even further.

Oh well, I am sure I will find something that I (read ‘Daddy’) can do without for just three more weeks.

It might seem bad, but if I were to turn back the hands of time, I would probably do everything the same as before. Like I said earlier: come the celebrations at the end of this year, the story will be exactly the same.

Who am I kidding? End of the year? My friends, there is a perfectly good, long weekend during Easter to celebrate and indulge a little more. It is not as bad as the Christmas festivities, but it is still a time to live a little on the wild side!

Coping Tips
The post-holiday season brings with it anxieties; dreading the phone and hoping you will wake up from your debt nightmare.

The fancy parties and nights-out are no more. All you can think about is whether your drained wallet can sustain you. It gets worse if you have to save for the children’s school fees.

Joy Mirembe Abola, a financial consultant with Akamai Business and Financial Advisers, says people are short of money because they were paid earlier than usual.

Barnabas Assasira, an accountant, says: “I got my salary on December 15, by the end of the month, I had spent it.” He has resorted to going without supper as a means of saving.

Mirembe explains that there was so much to spend on during the holiday period. “There were so many things being thrown at people; there were a lot of promotions that prompted people to buy.” The rise in fuel also drained finances.

According to Mirembe, the first step is to appreciate your circumstances by realising you have a problem and you need to address it.

Avoid borrowing for consumption. It is like taking financial poison.

Tone down your lifestyle. Cut out airtime, pay television and nights-out.

Grow food, if you have space, to reduce on the costs

Put in extra hours at work. You also need to be creative even if it means doing odd jobs.

Give your car a break and walk to reduce on fuel costs.

A new start
Start saving now instead of waiting for the holidays. Mirembe encourages people to set up investments that will generate income.

Fred Kawuki, a stock controller, says he saved for the holidays to avoid straining himself. “People spend and forget life has to continue,” he says.

Mirembe advises parents to talk to their children about money management.

Compiled By Angela Ndagaano

January blues- The party is over, in come the bills 

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