Auma’s Coin Confession

Welcome to The Coin Confession! We are demystifying how people spend their money by asking everyday people to share their spending over a 7-day period.

Today: a young journalist in a well-paying job, documents how she’s typically spending her money during this quarantine period.


Name: Auma

Age: 24

Gross Salary: KES 254,000

Deductions: KES 87,227 (I maxed out my pension contributions recently to the highest amount matched by my employer whilst still being under the tax-free threshold. This brought my total contribution to 20,000 per month instead of 12,000 p/m as it was before.

Net salary: Typically, it’s KES 166,773.00. This month it was KES 179,897.35 because of Covid-19 tax relief.

Rent: KES 12,500 (I have a friend who moved in last year and is now able to contribute half of the rent. So, my rental contribution will be 12,500 for the first time this month. Other months it was 17,000 but now it’ll be 12,500 hopefully.)

Other expenses (shopping, airtime, data, etc): Roughly KES 35,000–50,000 inclusive of giving, utilities, gym, eating out, home décor, cleaning, and miscellaneous spending, etc. This quarantine period has forced me to really assess my spending! Do you want to know how much you spend on these categories? Find out more about Africa’s Pocket Budgeting Tool here.

Monthly savings: I am for at least KES 60,000 to 110,000 (on a great month). This is looking like a really good month because staying home saves a lot of money. I own a business so sometimes I spend from my personal acc for my business. I’m trying to get better about making sure I pay myself back because this is one of the ways I end up spending a lot of money.

Disclaimer: This week is payday and it’s also the week I pay for a lot of bills/contributions so it’s filled with more fixed expenses than usual.

Weekly budget: KES 10,000

Monday 27th April 2020

8:30 am: I woke up later than I intended today because I didn’t really sleep well. Spent the previous night/morning trying to fight a mosquito! I managed to smack one down thinking it was the only soldier. Turns out there was a last man standing and we were on the battlefield for about one hour (I KNOW!) at like 4 am in the morning (SMH). Eventually, I succumbed to my loss of the battle and fell asleep.

10:00 am: I finally get out of bed. I’m feeling bad because I should have gotten my morning walk in today but sadly I won’t get the time to. I’ll aim for this tomorrow!

10:30 am: I decide to intermittent fast today which means that I’ll start eating from noon.

I work in media and my boss needs me to record a video from home today. I start preparing for this as I put on my makeup to look somewhat decent for the camera before I start filming.

12:15 pm: My first meal of the day is sort of Mexican inspired. I have a bowl of mincemeat, a little chicken breast, some roast potatoes, and beets, and dress it in some mustard and ketchup with a side of guacamole. Sounds weird but it’s YUM! I prepared the meal which means that I don’t have to spend any cash on lunch today.

(Side note: I actually don’t spend a lot on lunch because I always cook in bulk every week).

3 pm: I finally finish filming and tick off most of the small tasks that I had for the day. I am feeling very satisfied because the biggest task on my to-do list (filming the video) is finally done.

5 pm: 5 pm and I still haven’t got my work out in. I’m taking part in a fitness challenge and I’m in the last week of it. I had promised myself that I would work out today but, I’m weirdly starting to crave chapo (not a good combo).

5:30 pm: My body doesn’t want to work out but my mind knows that if I don’t do it today I’ll have to go really hard tomorrow and honestly that just makes my work so difficult. So with this in mind, I try to reason with myself (kind of, trick myself) that if I get to work out today, I can treat myself to a chapo (sounds like a plan right?).

After formulating this genius plan, I walk outside the house and head over to my chapo guy feeling very happy and satisfied with my decision but just when I am about to get there, I start having second thoughts and make an about-turn (not today carbs! not today). I remember that I have food in the house so there’s really no need to get a chapo. Let’s save that KES 15.

6:15 pm: I put on my work out gear to psych myself up! (this is a true representation of “I am already here anyway, let’s get it over with”).

7:15 pm: I just completed my work out session. Feeling super tired but glad that I did it anyway.

8:30 pm: It’s time to eat dinner as I watch videos about ways to make fermented foods at home. I also make sure to spray my bedroom and vent it to prevent another mosquito fight tonight.

9:30 pm: I begin my bedtime routine because my trusted YouTube fitness influencers keep telling me that I will not get results if I don’t get quality sleep.

Skincare routine — check. Mosquito spray — check. Read a few pages of a book — check.

Total spend: 0 KES

Tuesday 28th April 2020

7:50 am: I get out of bed after a wonderful night’s rest. Today, I am very motivated to do some hill sprints at a nearby steep hill as well as hit 10,000 steps. Without wasting any time, I dress up and set off to do the hill sprints.

9:30 am: I’m back at home from my outdoor workout. I stopped by Naivas to pick up some cleaning items for my deep cleaning session today. I spent 596 Bob on some unga, cooking oil, cleaning spray, and sponges as well as some coffee sachets. I bought the unga and oil to donate as part of Naivas’ ‘give back’ initiative, so I left those in a box at the market. I also bought some sweet potatoes on my way home for 50 Bob.

On my walk home, I get a text from my bank that payday has come through, and because of the new tax changes, it’s looking a lot healthier than usual. I’m obviously VERY pleased to see this, so pleased that I’m somewhat suspicious. I call our work accountant just to make sure that they remembered to deduct my extra pension contribution and he confirms that they did so and encourages me to enjoy the extra coins LOL.

10:30 am: After a nice shower and some YouTube videos, I get started with my work for the day.

1:30 pm: I’ve just finished the biggest work task that I had and with the task well completed, I decide to relax a bit and have my first meal of the day.

2:30 pm: I send KES 4,000 to a friend’s account. She is the treasurer of a group that we formed to help with one of our friend’s living situation. He lives in Kibra (a slum in Nairobi) and life can get very tough for him but, with our monthly contributions, he’s able to at least get by. My contributions are typically 2k a month but because I forgot to send the money last month, I decide to make up for it and send 4k.

3:30 pm: I begin cleaning my kitchen because ISSA WHOLE MESS and it makes me look like I have zero home training. As I am getting this done, I decide to catch up with a good friend of mine whom I haven’t spoken to in almost a year.

6:30 pm: I cave into my chapati cravings and decide to treat myself. The result of this, however, is that I end up buying two instead of my usual one. My local chapo guy persuaded me by using the old “ongeza 10 Bob nikupee mbili” so I walk away 30 bob less rich 😆.

9:30 pm: I run an Airbnb business and recently my cleaning lady, who also helps me manage the place, helped me negotiate the price of a chest of drawers from 16k to 11k. I send her the money from my personal account, keeping in mind that I’ll have to transfer the funds back from my business (the Mpesa transaction fees are insane. 87 BOB!? Wow Safaricom!).

9:30 pm: Since today is payday, I just decide to send all my necessary contributions. This time, it’s for my workplace chama. Each one of us contributes 10,000 every month so I send my contributions. The same 87 Bob is taken by Mpesa again :(

Total spend: KES 15,850 (Mpesa transactions accounted for) I will pay myself back from the business savings. Chama Savings: 10,000 KES

Wednesday 29th April 2020

I woke up slightly late today but I managed to squeeze my work out before 11 am.

11:30 am: I get started on my work tasks for the day which takes up my entire day. I was working on another video and also needed to edit it. Finished everything at around 5 pm.

5:30 pm: I’m getting ready to leave the house to get my steps in for the day. I always need to listen to something when doing this but since I’ve run out of data, I spend KES 1000 to buy 5GB worth of data — *sigh*. I seriously need to get an Airtel line.

6:45 pm: In the spirit of #LivingLifeOnTheEdge, I decide to use a new route back home despite the fact that curfew is just a few minutes away. On my way back, I get tempted to buy some mahindi choma so I decide to treat myself to the full size at KES 30 (yummy!).

8:30 pm: As I am having super, I remember that my landlady sent me my water bill but I haven’t sorted it out yet. This month’s total is much higher than usual (KES 1,350 bob) mainly because the landlady had to order several bowsers to deal with kanjo being stingy with their water. Thankfully she also decided to invest in another tank that will collect rainwater which should hopefully offset Kanjo’s tactics.

9:30 pm-10:30 pm: I wind down the night with my usual routine which brings me peace of mind. Watch a cooking video — check. Spray and vent my bedroom — check. Skincare routine — check. Try to squeeze a few pages of the book I’m reading — didn’t manage this at all LOL.

Total spend: 2,380 KES

Thursday 30th April 2020

7 am: Rise and shine! It’s time to get up and get my workout in for the day.

Today’s session will be a quick one so I should be done in about 20 minutes

2 pm: I’m feeling generous today so I decide to treat a colleague/friend of mine. She had her birthday a couple of days ago but she didn’t get to celebrate it because of this lockdown mess. See, back at the office we usually get cake for each other but since that’s currently not an option, I decide to order some delicious pork and ugali and have it delivered to her house as a surprise (yay! she won’t see this coming).

I don’t spend on anything else for the day and my routine stays roughly the same.

Food cost: 430

Delivery: 80

Total: 510 KES

Friday 1st May 2020

7:30 am: I wake up and flip through different social media accounts to see what’s going on in the world. Mid scrolling, I get a text from Safaricom that I’ve purchased the postpay package of 1000 mins and 15GB of data which costs me an unexpected KES 1965.52 😳 My first time using this service was last month and I really didn’t know that it would auto-renew itself.

I usually use the BLAZE deal for under 25’s of 20GB for KES 2000 but I got post-pay for the inclusive calling minutes. During the month, I realized that this plan wasn’t perfectly fitting for me during quarantine so I’m a bit annoyed that I didn’t get to cancel it in time. If only Safcom actually gave us the full 15GB *cries real tears* I’ll ride it out for the month to see if it works for me.

9:02 am: I had to jump out of bed because I just remembered that I had a zoom workout scheduled for 9 am with the colleague that I surprised yesterday.

9:30 am: We finally get started and after completing one round she assumes that we’re done, only for me to tell her that we have 3 more rounds of the workout. At this point, she decides it’s best to exit the chat 😆

11 am: I shower and wash my hair whilst thinking about all the salon visits I’m missing during this quarantine life. I don’t spend a lot of money on beauty but I do try to budget for it as part of my routine every 8 weeks or so. I use this as a treat once in a while but normally I tend to care for my hair all by myself. Anyway, one thing is for sure, I’ve saved a lot of money just being at home during the lockdown.

12:30 pm: I break my fast today with some egg and avocado then I watch more videos on YouTube about fitness and nutrition — I swear I can binge watch YouTube for weeks.

1 pm-5 pm: It’s labor day. I spent most of these hours just sitting on my sofa watching YouTube videos. I’m really enjoying all this rest after a relatively laborious week.

6 pm: I head outside for a quick walk to avoid being a couch potato. My walk is however cut short by the onset of slight rain so I start to make my way back home, just 15 minutes into the walk.

On my way back, I spot a really nice looking spaghetti squash. The mama mboga is only selling it at KES 80 so I decide to grab it.

Total spend: 2045.52

Saturday 2nd May 2020

07:00 am: Today is officially grocery day but I wake up to yet another rude shock! KES 1131.41 was withdrawn from my debit card for a Netflix subscription. I quickly berate myself for forgetting to cancel this subscription (because I recently got a new Netflix subscription with friends which costs me just KES 300 per month).

I instantly put a reminder to cancel the previous subscription asap.

1:30 pm: I make my way to the mall on foot. This has been an excellent time for gentle exercise and a little therapy with my favorite podcast. The walk takes me about 40 mins, but time really flies by when you’ve got your headphones on.

2:30 pm: I leave Zucchini with a few groceries for KES 324. Previously I would hardly ever shop here because they look too boujee and overpriced but I’ve recently discovered that I can get some rare ingredients like lemongrass, oyster mushrooms, etc, for a pretty good price. If you avoid all the kombucha, olive stands, and fresh juice stalls, Zucchini has some affordable options (P.S: I said SOME! Overall, I still think it’s boujee LOL).

Whilst still on this topic, I hate the fact that Zucchini doesn’t display the price of all their products. I don’t like the fact that sometimes I have to get to the till just so I can know the price per kilo for some items. I DON’T LIKE SUCH SURPRISES! To any zucchini manager that might be reading this, DISPLAY THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING PLEASE AND THANK YOU!

2:45 pm: I head into Carrefour for my weekly shopping. I pick up some items that don’t normally make it to my weekly shopping list. These include; two kilos of mincemeat (for meal prep), coconut milk/cream (for a coconut curry that I’d like to make soon), noodles, beetroot, a big jug of water and some personal items. The total bill comes to 2775 KES. Yikes!– Am I the only one who gets to the till and sometimes begins to wonder, ‘kwani what did I buy? Dhahabu?’ SMH. I don’t think I bought enough things to warrant that price but I swipe my card and silent the frugal spirit in the depths of my soul that I’m sinning against.

4:30 pm: I order a BOLT from the mall to my house which depletes my account of KES 170. Not bad at all. Uber always charges at least 100 bob more for this route but for today I opted for the cheaper option, despite the fact that Bolt isn’t exactly known for its amazing service.

8:00 pm: Back on YouTube again and I’m on Milly Chebby’s channel. I’m watching her vlog about how she does bulk shopping for her family of 3 at only 10,000 roughly every three months. WILD! She also shared some tips on how to cheapen the cost of meat by going to the proper Kichinjio areas. I make a note of this and vow to switch to bulk shopping once this lockdown is over.

Total spend: 4,400.41 KES

Sunday 3rd May 2020

8 am: It’s a beautiful Sunday morning! I just woke up feeling super refreshed and made a personal goal to head over to the soko for some essential fresh veggies. I save on tomatoes, onions, and your typical fresh produce by getting it at the market instead of Carrefour.

9 am: I make a call to my cleaning lady asking her to come over despite the fact that this wasn’t in my budget for the week.

After she’s done cleaning, I pay her the normal amount, KES 1000, and decide to add her a KES 100 tip because of the current state of the economy

3 pm: The soko nearby is CHEAP and I save a crazy amount of money by shopping for the bulk of my fresh produce here. It’s so cheap that they even have small onions and small ginger pieces selling for 1 bob! I end up buying 30 eggs, carrots, ginger, garlic, peppers, lemon, tomatoes, onions, and avocados for just 630 KES. (P.s; on the 30 eggs, please don’t judge me 😂 Here’s the thing, I buy the whole egg tray because I get through eggs quickly as I mainly eat the whites because they’re an excellent protein source. I sound like a gym rat right now, but it’s true).

4 pm: I start to crave some chapati and walk around the market looking for some to no avail. My chapo guy isn’t where he usually stands today which makes me legitimately sad. I end up finding a mama who sells mahindi chemsha which also goes well with that afternoon tea that I was planning on having. I pay 30 KES for the whole piece.

Total spend: 1760 KES


Weekly budget: 10,000

Total weekly spent: 15,945.93 (I paid myself back from the business and did not count my chama savings as spending)

My closing thoughts:

I tend to sometimes grossly underestimate my expenses, and the fact that I was over budget shows that right?

Money management is something I’m continuing to learn every day. The most important thing is to be realistic and honest with myself about my actual spending. I’m super proud of keeping take out orders at a minimum during this quarantine period though! Small goals for the win!

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