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Explainer: How to stretch your shilling this festive season

Tuesday December 3 2019

Nairobi Xmas shopping

Members of the public shop as a supermarket in Nairobi County ahead of the festive season in 2016. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CLAIRE WASILWA
By CLAIRE WASILWA
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The festive season is here and so are expenses.

The long December holiday is supposed to be a joyful time with loved ones but, for many, the season is filled with pressure and temptation to spend, questionable financial decisions and, yes, debt.

Impulse buying and other irrational spending habits leave many with ''January blues'', with some having to go for bank and expensive mobile loans

But do you know that it is possible to enjoy festivities while maintaining your commitment to economical living?

All you have to do is invest some time in creative planning and preparation and ensure you shop smart while keeping in mind that the true meaning of the season has nothing to do with excessive spending.

Here are a few tips.

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•Set priorities

A properly crafted list can help you save money this festive season by allowing you to buy only what you need.

Have a list of items you need, not want, to avoid buying things you are unlikely to use.

• Research before you shop

Check social media pages, visit multiple stores, talk to friends for referrals and find as much information as possible regarding discounts and promotions before you make a purchase.

This research will help you avoid wasting a single opportunity to save money.

• Buy food in bulk

It is true that the ''kadogo'' economy, especially for food items, is not at all economical.

The festive season is characterised by family dinners and parties, so it is important to know that buying food in bulk helps reduce expenses and the number of trips to supermarkets.

Prices of items packed in large quantities are lower in comparison to those in smaller quantities.

If you can, buy items such as rice, cooking oil, wheat and maize flour from wholesalers to save money.

However, be careful as one disadvantage of buying food in bulk is that there is the risk of wastage as it could get spoilt.

• Look out for purchases with free gifts

This December, you’ll find that many retailers will entice you with promotions such as ''Buy 1 Get 1 Free'', which means you’ll have two items for the price of one.

Some retailers will offer an item related to the one on sale.

Examples include a free loaf of bread attached to margarine, or bar soap attached to washing powder.

Take advantage of such offers and they will help you save money.

• DIY

For the uninitiated, this simply means ''do it yourself'''.

Instead of having a costly extravagant party, have a homemade Christmas, where everything is homemade.

You can make your own decorations, gifts, bake your own cake, and grill your own chicken in the oven.

Buying pre-prepared dishes is convenient but expensive and cooking your Christmas dinner from scratch will save you a lot of money.

• Look for discount codes

Before you start your Christmas shopping, check social media and other channels to see if your favourite stores are offering discounts and other such deals.

Additionally, check out for discount codes to help you save money.

To save even more, buy discounted gift cards to pay for your purchases.

• Take advantage of sales

Many supermarkets have the habit of offering huge discounts during the holiday season in an effort to attract consumers.

Without a doubt, the most effective way to save money during the holidays is to shop smarter.

Before you set out to buy anything, take some time and do a quick internet search, and see which stores are offering the best prices on the items you plan to buy.

Don't forget that you can often save money shopping from reputable online retailers as well, especially when combining discounted online prices with free shipping offers or free delivery.

• Free gifts

Take advantage of free Christmas gifts.

Apart from the popular ''Buy 1, Get 1 Free'', some companies give gifts such as cards, shopping vouchers, wines, cookies, mugs and ornaments to their employees.

• Plan ahead; way ahead!

It’s too late to do this for this holiday season but, from now on, always shop right after the holidays.

For the 2020 festive season, consider shopping for gifts as early as this year.

Gift sets, candles, Christmas decorations and even toys go on extremely good clearance sales right after Christmas and will make perfect gifts for next year.

Remember to shop way ahead for your next holiday.