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Four things you shouldn’t do, even if it saves you money

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to cut your expenses? Check out our four bad ideas you must never do

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There are probably a lot of Kenyans sleeping on old mattresses.

Some of the things people do to save money include ladies cutting their hair to avoid salon visits, bargain hunting or even buying second-hand clothes at Gikomba. Some men drink is dingy pubs where beer is cheaper or skip lunch. But there are some things nobody should ever do, not even in the name of saving money, such as the following

Sleeping on a crappy mattress

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter if the décor of your room looks about as attractive as a kidnapper’s basement, or hasn’t changed since you were 12.

But the one thing you should spend money on is a good mattress. You don’t need to spend thousands on the best mattress that money can buy. But when your existing one gets old and threadbare, not changing it could wreck your sleep completely, give you chronic aches and pains and indirectly lead to more stress — and that’s one thing we don’t need more of. Mattresses should be replaced at least every 10 years. There are probably a lot of Kenyans sleeping on old mattresses.

SEE ALSO: Meet the billionaire who keeps money under the mattress

Not maintaining your vehicle

You know how there are some people who will starve themselves so they can buy designer handbags? Well, paying through your nose for a vehicle and then trying to scrimp and save by not getting it serviced and maintained is pretty much the same thing.

Not maintaining your vehicle puts you at risk of accidents. Old tyres skid more easily, especially during the rainy season. And we don’t even need to talk about why your brakes need to be changed from time to time. What’s more, not going for regular oil changes and getting your engine serviced every now and then can result in your wrecking your engine entirely — which will end up costing you more money in the long run.

Never taking a day off (or letting your maid take a day off)

Parents of young kids no doubt already know how hard it is to have two seconds to yourself. This doesn’t just apply to dual income households in which both parents have full-time jobs and rely on in-laws or childcare centres to take care of their kids.

Stay-at-home mothers and fathers also have a tough time. As they’re not working and their kids are unlikely to be in childcare, they can end up having to watch the children 24/7 while trying to get housework done at the same time. These people often don’t get a single day off from their child-rearing duties if they don’t have a maid.

READ: How Kenya’s super-rich invest their money

But taking a day or two off every now and then — even if it means paying an ad-hoc babysitter or hiring a nanny — is necessary for your mental health. Catch up with friends, exercise, go to the cinema, go on a date with your spouse or whatever. This will make you a less stressed out and more patient parent.

If your maid is the one who’s doing most of the child-minding on your behalf, have a heart and let her take her days off. It’s compulsory to give live-in maids at least one day off a week, but beyond that it’s also humane to give her an extra break now and then.

Eating hawker food everyday

In an ideal world, we’d all be making delicious, nutritious meals in our kitchens every day, whistling while we worked. In reality, Kenyans eat out an a lot because nobody has the time to (learn to) cook because of work.

For those who have the cash to wine and dine at nice restaurants every day, good for you. But for the rest of us, this often translates to eating hawker food every damn day (seen people lining up for boiled eggs or nduma in town; and those eating at kiosks?).

READ: Five signs that you are sleeping on a bad mattress

If you’re eating hawker food every single day, don’t think you’re in good health just because you always order the fish aor kienyeji mboga — the soups are often laden with salt and the vegetables with lots of fat. Learn to cook or spend a bit more to replace some of your meals with salads or something more nutritious. The former will actually save you money in the long run.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to save money? Tell us in the comments section below

Business Today is the leading independent online business website in Kenya. Started in 2012 by a veteran business journalist, it has a huge following both in Kenya and abroad. It covers various business and related issues. Email editor at: [email protected]

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  1. John Adera Dola

    September 3, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Greetings! I really like the great job that you are doing to educate Kenyans on how to live a healthy life by reducing risks and maximizing on a healthy life. Just to mention, I am a writer too. I have been writing articles for two years now and I am therefore willing to work with you. Kindly contact me through email [email protected] if you may need my services. Alternatively, My skype ID is renault.missipi. Thanks in advance!

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Personal finance

Five most fuel-efficient cars in Kenya

It is not just about fuel, these cars can still save you a lot of money when it comes to car insurance

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The Honda Fit has earned praise for its engineering and design, and it has found its niche with consumers drawn to its space-efficient design and easily reconfigurable rear seats.

In Kenya where something as ordinary as an election has the potential to crumble the economy, there is a dire need to be frugal with your resources. Every single coin counts as you have clearly seen time and time again and thus it lies in most of us to be very keen how we manage our lifestyles.

Cars are part of this lifestyle as they form a major component in our families and businesses, facilitating easy movement as we go about our day to day activities.

But with the current uncertainty in the economy and constant traffic jams, you need a car that’s really efficient on fuel consumption or else you’ll burn all your money maintaining the car. Luckily, there are quite a number of fuel-efficient cars in the Kenyan market, which are guaranteed to cover your needs while still leaving a little something in your pockets.

Yet it is not just about the fuel, these cars can still save you a lot of money when it comes to the car insurance quotes you will be deciding upon. Here are the top five fuel-efficient cars on Kenyan roads.

HONDA FIT

The first car on the list is the Honda Fit. Now in its 3rd generation, it first debuted in 2001 in Japan and immediately became a big hit. At its introduction in 2001, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award and by December 2001, it had outsold the Toyota Corolla, and ranked first in sales for nine out of 12 months in 2002.

Despite having a subcompact four-door hatchback, the Honda Fit has also earned praise for its engineering and design, and it has found its niche with consumers drawn to its space-efficient design and easily reconfigurable rear seats.

It’s most notable feature, however, is its engine which is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with a consumption of up to 14.5 kmpl . Now if that’s not fuel efficient, then I don’t know what it is.

Other features of the car include air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a 5-inch central display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a four-speaker sound system.

HONDA CIVIC HYBRID

The second car on the fuel efficiency list is yet another Honda, the Honda Civic Hybrid. Although slightly pricey than most cars on this list, it’s efficiency and ease of maintenance definitely covers up for the cost. A variation of the Honda Civic, it was introduced in Japan in 2001 with quite a notable feature, the hybrid electric power train.

HONDA CIVIC 
The hybrid has a 1.5L four-cylinder engine, fuel consumption of up to 18 kmpl and assisted when necessary by a 17kW electric motor. And not only that, it also has idle stop so that when it stops in traffic, the engine shuts off automatically, then restarts immediately when the driver takes their foot off the brake, contributing to both greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

SEE ALSO

> Why expensive cars are a bad investment
> Things you shouldn’t do when driving an automatic car

Its twin spark plugs light the lean fuel-air mixtures sent to the two-valve combustion chambers which work hand in hand with a 1.3-litre single overhead cam i-DSI lean-burn internal-combustion engine with VTEC Cylinder Cut-off System, which allows three cylinders to deactivate during deceleration.

And just because its fuel efficient doesn’t mean it’s all dull and boring. The car is also very spacious with seating for up to five, plus all the interior space you’ll need for anything from a business trip to a nice night out. The most recent generation also comes with a wireless Phone Charger, which provides a hassle-free charging zone that’s easy to access and use.

TOYOTA PRIUS

A mid- sized lift back sized between the Corolla and the Camry, the Prius was first produced in 1997 and it became the first mass produced fuel electric hybrid car. The car has become quite popular in Kenya and its 1.8-liter petrol engine (previously 1.5 liters) has everything to do with it. It generates 98 hp (73 kW), and with the added power of the electric motor generates a total of 134 hp (100 kW) (previously 110 hp or 82 kW).

The larger engine displacement allows for increased torque, reducing engine speeds (RPM), which improves fuel economy at highway speeds.

Thanks to its electric water pump, the Prius engine is the first consumer automotive production engine that requires no accessory belts, which also further improves its fuel economy. The electric motors and other components of the hybrid power train are also smaller and more efficient than the industry average putting it way up on the efficiency basket.

NISSAN MARCH

Another fuel efficient car common in Kenya is the Nissan March. Mostly popular with the ladies, it was first introduced into the market in 1982 as a challenger to the Honda City and Toyota Starlet. Its third generation however, which is mostly common in Kenya was introduced in 2002 and it features a new, 70 mm longer wheelbase and an even more curvy exterior that was taller and slightly wider.

READ: 11 fuel-saving tips every driver should know

Its most distinctive feature was a pair of prominent headlamps that extended to the wing-tops with other additions including a sliding rear seat and the option of keyless ignition on higher specification models. Why Kenyan ladies adore it though is its 3-cylinder engine, 1.0L to 1.5L and fuel consumption of up to 21kmpl.

Mazda-Demio-in-Kenya-1024x628 Five most fuel-efficient cars in Kenya

The Demio uses Mazda’s SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic and SkyActiv-MT five- and six-speed manual gearboxes.

MAZDA DEMIO

Another common Kenyan car that’s breaking the back of fuel efficiency is the Mazda Demio, a supermini which first hit the world market in 1996 before going on to bag the car of the year award in 2008. The Demio uses Mazda’s SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic and SkyActiv-MT five- and six-speed manual gearboxes as well as stop-start technology (“i-STOP” turns the engine off when the car is stationary) and a brake energy regeneration system (“i-ELOOP” uses braking to charge a capacitor for all car electronics, in place of an alternator charging a battery).

This coupled up with its weight, which is below a 1000KG and an engine which ranges from 1.0L to 1.5L with a fuel consumption of 14 Kmpl makes it an ideal fight for most economical Kenyans out here. [source: Pesa Bazaar]

SEE: Things you must know before insuring your car

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Personal finance

Saving is the beginning of financial freedom

In all definitions, it is generally agreed that saving money involves delayed gratification and the act of keeping scarce resources for a later date

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Today is the World Savings Day. Also known as ‘World Thrift Day’, it was established on October 31, 1924 with the aim of creating awareness on the importance of cultivating a savings habit while promoting its benefits. So what are savings?

There are varied definitions available to describe the meaning of saving money. By some it is described as the amount left over once personal expenses have been met (Business Dictionary); by others it is described as the act of keeping money aside till a later date (Cambridge Dictionary); or finally, as asset accumulation and wealth creation over a specific period of time (Investopedia). In all definitions, it is generally agreed that saving money involves delayed gratification and the act of keeping scarce resources for a later date.

However, for the majority of young people, the idea of saving money might seem ludicrous. Economic factors such as the rising cost of living, poverty, high unemployment rates and pressure to take on family debt make it difficult to put money aside. Furthermore, it has been widely reported that youth generally do not see saving as a priority earlier on in life.

Why Save?

The following are reasons why cultivating a savings habit is important.

Greater Financial Independence – Cultivating a savings habit empowers young people in making their own decisions while relying less on family members. According to the United Nations 2013 Youth Financial Inclusion report, providing youth with financial services such as a savings account promotes asset building and emphasizes sustainable livelihoods.

READ: Why this is the right time to buy land or house
  • Less Wastage –The major source of income for most teenagers and young adults comes from allowances either from parents or guardians. Saving encourages youth to make the most of such income and avoid impulse buying. Making an effort to look good is commendable; however, spending the bulk of one’s scare resources on image, at the expense of much more pressing needs may rob a young person of greater opportunities.
  • Builds Money Management Skills – Research also shows that youth in Africa who has access to savings facilities either in formal or informal contexts exhibit better money management skills. For example, a 2015 research report by the MasterCard Foundation on Financial Services for Youth in Sub-Saharan Africa states that African youth with access to savings services appear to be able to handle savings and budgeting activities better. They are also able to accumulate assets long term and improve their ability to handle financial transactions. It could also be argued that positive behaviours and habits are best cultivated in childhood. Maintaining a savings habit is also especially effective for youth when complemented with training in entrepreneurship skills.
  • Compound Interest- Savings accounts typically reward account holders with interest on the savings over a period of time. Opening a savings account affords the account holder the opportunity to earn accumulated interest on the initial amount.
  • Potential Asset Effects – Besides building money management skills and competencies, research shows that cultivating a savings habit could also provide other positive effects. In a 2010 report on Youth Savings in Developing Countries, Save the Children, an international NGO describes these positive effects as “Asset Effects”. These asset effects which include economic, psychological, social, health and intergenerational effects could impact persons, self-esteem, decrease risk-taking behaviour, and improve the overall quality of life.
SEE: How bankruptcy can mess your financial life
What Global Experts Say About Savings

Robert Kiyasoki, a Businessman and Author said: “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” 

Warren Buffet – is a Business magnate, Investor and second on Forbes list of the world’s top billionaires said:“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” 

Suze Orman, Author, Financial Advisor, Motivational Speaker said: “Stop buying things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.”

ALSO READ: TV reporters attacked at NASA meeting

Effective Tips on How to Save

 There are numerous guides on how to save money. In general, the most important tips are as follows:

  • Set a Savings Goal –Setting short and long-term savings goals help in determining what money should be spent on. Goals could also be used as a motivational tool to stay on track and avoid unnecessary expenses.
  • Open a Savings Account – Opening a savings account typically helps the saver achieve their savings goals as money is not easily available to spend carelessly. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, a savings account usually pays interest on the initial deposit. Interest paid annually on saving range from 2% -6% depending on the particular bank. There are new banks currently operating which have been designed specifically to cater to Millennials. Such banks include Alat by Wema Bank. Also, over the past year, Fintech companies have created digital applications which assist both the young and old to save and keep track of spending and transactions. Such applications include Reach, Piggybank and Remita.
  • Budget – A budget, which is an estimate of both income and expenses over a specified period also ensures that a saver sticks to their savings goals. Savers who budget are more likely to live within their means. As earlier discussed, young Africans tend to spend the bulk of their income on beauty and personal care products. Budgeting ensures that the saver only spends money on things they need while saving the rest.
  • Take On An Odd Job–as earlier mentioned, most secondary or higher education students only receive income in the form allowances from parents or guardians. In such a case, a young saver should consider diversifying their earnings by taking on odd jobs. Odd jobs include tutoring, sales jobs, or even starting a small business doing something they are passionate about. Income from an odd job would ensure increased savings and asset accumulation.
  • Invest your savings–Finally, once savings have been accumulated, young adults should consider investing their savings in viable assets. Assets such as Stocks, Treasury Bills and Bonds typically yield rewards for investors. For example, dividends are paid out on stocks while, interest is paid out on T-Bills and Bonds. Interest rates vary depending on the period of time they are held for. Investing is indeed a great way to further accumulate assets, diversify earnings and create wealth.

Conclusion

At first, cultivating a savings habit may seem tough, however, overtime; the benefits far outweigh the limitations.

This article was first published by Nigeria’s The Independent

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Personal finance

Six critical signs you are living large

You are definitely living beyond your means if you fit the following scenario: a month cannot go by without incurring an Mshwari loan debt

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Revellers enjoy the night away during a music concert at a club in Nakuru. Most young people troop to the town for weekend outings, earning it the title Naxvegas.

At one point in our lives, we can all say we have lived beyond our means and we were able to recognise that fact, however this should only be a temporary situation and not a fact of life.

However some may be living beyond their means but they have no idea. It is easy to find yourself in this kind of situation given the YOLO (You Only Live Once) mentality of today’s society and the need to fit into a particular class, created by lifestyle trends on social media.

Here are a few critical indicators to help you judge whether you are living within your financial means.

1. Over spending on rent

The reason we all work so hard is to ensure we can afford a good lifestyle and that we can live in a good neighborhood. The unfortunate thing however is that what we earn may not always afford these little pleasures but we insist on it anyway.

You may earn a salary that can afford you a good house is say Ruiru but you cannot imagine having to tell your peers you live there because it may not be considered a posh enough neighborhood.

You therefore make the decision to live in Westlands or Kilimani or any other neighborhood that maybe considered leafy or posh. This in turn translates to you having to spend half or more of your income on rent. Financial experts often say you should not spend more than 28% of your income on rent. So if your take home salary is KSh 30,000 per month, your rent should not be more than KSh 8,400 per month.

Rent is undoubtedly the biggest monthly expense for most young adults and families which is why there is a real need to keep it as low as possible. Such a recurrent expenditure should be limited to give room for other developmental expenses like investments.

2. You have no savings

You know you are living dangerously-financially speaking if you are going through life with zero savings. No matter how little your income is, you should be able to save a little of that money for a rainy day or for retirement.

If by the end of the month you have spent all your money and saving a little of it was the last thing on your mind then it is a clear sign you are living beyond your means and if not then you are well on your way there.

Financial advisers generally agree that one should save at least 10 to 15 percent of their income at least for retirement if nothing else.

So if your take home salary is KSh 50,000, you should be setting aside at least KSh 5000 per month. If that is too high for whatever reason and you find you are having trouble setting aside even 5% of your monthly income then there is a problem.

Continually setting a little money aside cushions you from life eventualities such as loss of a job or a sudden illness. Living with no savings can be compared to swimming in the big ocean without a life vest, you may survive for a while on your swimming skills but a big tide could end it all at any one time.

3. Always late on bill payments

There could be different reasons why you end up paying your bills including forgetfulness. However, if the reason you are always late on your bills is because you never have enough money to cover them at the right time might mean you are overextended.

ALSO SEE: Top 10 money mistakes Kenyans make

Adjusting your spending habits may help with this problem. For example you do not have to try new restaurant every week or attended every social event that has been building hype all week long. Instead use that money you could have spent to pay off a bill and make such social plans a once a month issue instead of a weekly thing.

Additionally, you can also cut back on the bills altogether, get rid of the non essential bills like broadband, satellite TV, gym memberships and reduce the size of existing ones like electricity, water, food etc.

4. You have no money left by month end

If by the end of the month you have already started taking things from your ‘mama mboga’ on credit and you keep calling your friends or colleagues for a soft loan to cater for your transport then you are definitely living beyond your means. Funding basic lifestyle costs using credit is one sure way to confirm you are living beyond your means.

No matter your salary, proper planning should ensure that the ‘little’ you get should get you through the month.

One way to ensure the money you take home lasts you the entire month, adjustments have to be made. That means no weekend binges on nyama choma and alcohol, no weekly take out because you feel too tired to cook, and no random trips with your boys/girls to Nakuru or other ‘sin’ cities.

Having a budget helps you prioritise your money on what is really important.

5. Constantly indebted

If you are in doubt on whether you are living beyond your means or not, access the debt you are in. if you are constantly in debt then you have your answer.

You are definitely living beyond your means if you fit the following scenario: a month cannot go by without incurring an Mshwari loan debt or any other mobile money service that offers the service. You owe one or more of your friends some money maybe even from the month before. Despite having a monthly income you find yourself borrowing to cover your bills, you are reliant on salary advance loans from your bank. And when things get really thick you often ask for salary advance from your employer.

Being debt despite having a constant income is a sign that something about your spending habits is off and needs to change if you are to be financially healthy.

If you want to be classified as someone who lives within their means then it means that you need to organize your finances to sustain your lifestyle without having to borrow to fund lifestyle expenses.

6. Poor credit score/ineligibility

We are living in times when it’s a good idea what your credit score is and if lenders will gladly give you a loan or run for the hills at the mention of your name. On top of a CRB check, simply walk your nearest bank branch and take a loan eligibility test, can you get a quick loan of up to 3 months’ salary?

Some employers require you to have a clearance report from a certified Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) showing that you are not in default with any lender.

The credit score is a measure of if an individual will meet their financial obligations such as paying off a loan.

Related: 14 signs that you are likely to become a millionaire

CRBs calculate your credit score by looking at your outstanding balances, total available credit, late payments and the age of the credit account.

So how does your credit score show whether you are living within your means or not?

According to financial experts a low credit scores may be a sign you are living beyond your means. Your low credit score may be as a result of late payments or defaulting on your payments which is a sign all is not well with you financially.

One CRB in Kenya, Metropol ranges its scores between 200 and 900 and points out that a credit score of less than 400 indicates that one is a defaulter.
So if you check your credit score is below 400 then it is time to review your lifestyle.

Copyright: www.pesabazaar.com. PESABAZAAR.com is Kenya’s premier insurance aggregator that provides online insurance comparison services.  It is registered with the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) of Kenya under PCAX Insurance Agents Ltd. 

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Personal finance

Why Kenya’s rich are also crying

Most of them are living on the edge but pretend to be doing well – they survive on borrowed money with no idea of how they will pay back, says Cofek’s Stephen Mutoro

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By Kenya’s middle-class standards, Bob Otieno fits this definition well—he has a car and lives in one of Nairobi’s leafy suburbs.

Like many other Kenyans trying to fit into the fast growing societal strata, Otieno is forced to put on a show. He is however not sure for how long he will put up with this lifestyle as creditors are already on his neck.

To fit into this group, Otieno, an accountant in a middle-level company, survives on soft loans he gets from small lenders who don’t demand a lot of collateral. All they demand is a pay slip and proof that one is employed.

“To my neighbours and colleagues, I’m living a perfect life, I have BMW X6, and I live in Kileleshwa (one of the posh estates in Nairobi), what they don’t know is that behind all these, is a broke man. I am in a deep hole of debt, yet I have no plan on how to get out of it,” he told Xinhua on Friday.

READ: Growing middle-class lures McDonald’s to Kenya

Joyce Kaivilu, 36, is also deep in debt. Her story is not so different from that of Otieno only that in her case she in the verge of losing a job as a customer relations manager in a bank as she is facing a case in court where she has been accused of failing to service a Ksh 518,500 (US$5,000) debt she acquired from one of her friends.

“I am at breaking point and I don’t know how I will get out of this hole. I have committed almost all of my salary to servicing loans, from my 1,500 dollars salary (about Ksh 155, 550), I’m normally left with less than 60 dollars (Ksh 6, 222), which can’t sustain me throughout the month which further pushes me into debt,” she said.

According to Kaivilu, it will take a miracle to get her out of the situation as she has already received a warning letter from her bosses.

“I have between now and December to deal with the case I’m facing in court, my bosses have threatened to let me go if I will not have settled the debt,” she added.

ALSO SEE: Kenya’s middle class illusion

A consumer rights lobby, the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) Secretary General Joseph Mutoro termed Otieno and Kaivilu as “captives of an imaginary status with no basis.”

“These people live on the edge, without these loans, they would not have lives,” Mutoro told Xinhua.

The World Bank puts the middle class individual’s or household’s daily income at between Ksh 1, 037 to Ksh 5, 184 (US$10 and US$50) per person per day while the African Development Bank (AfDB) defines middle class as anyone who spends between Ksh 207 to Ksh 2, 074 (US$2 and US$20) a day – putting the middle class at 34% of Africa’s population, or nearly 350 million people.

By the two international institutions’ standards, Otieno and Kaivilu fit the definition of middle class, only that in their case, they don’t live within their means.

Mutoro expressed concern that millions of Kenyans have been pushed into the middle class craze at the expense of their own wellbeing.

“Most of the Kenyans thriving on this craze are living on the edge but pretend to be doing well – they survive on borrowed money which they have no idea of how they will pay back,” he added.

In a volatile economic environment as Kenya’s where a job is not guaranteed, the effects of putting up with this lifestyle is and has been devastating.

According to Mutoro, middle class is more of a way of life and people have crafted that to live beyond their means.

2015-BMW-X6-1024x680 Why Kenya's rich are also crying

A 2015 BMW X6. According to Bob Otieno, though he lives in Kileleshwa and drives such a car, what his neighbours do not know is that he is a broke man. Credit: File

In trying to fit into the Hollywood-esque middle class description which is characterised by home and car ownership, and having children in expensive private schools, most Kenyans have painstakingly been pushed into debt.

NEXT READ: Shopping malls deliver middle class dream

This has eaten into their disposable income, leaving them in a precarious state. “If I had known the happiness I was looking for would land me in the state I am now, I would have never tried to put up with the show. I spend sleepless nights wondering how I will get out of this. Someone has advised me on filing a bankruptcy petition in court but I can’t take up this option yet as I am still in employment,” Kaivilu further told Xinhua.

According to a report by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD), with the expansion of bank branches, 73% of the Kenyan population now live within three kilometers of a financial sector touch point, increasing access to credit for most Kenyans.

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