BusinessPeople Daily

Why January tends to be painful for Kenyans

Franc Muli

It is no surprise that Kenyans face financial hardships every January. According to analysts, the perennial difficulties most people face can be attributed to the fact that too many people aspire to acquire consumer habits which are above their earnings during the festive season.

The month has been tagged the longest in the year not because it has extra days but because of financial hardships most Kenyans face during the month.

Speaking to People Daily, financial consultant William Odhiambo from Elim Consulting observes that a significant segment of Kenyans have limited resources that barely meet their needs.

“African middle class is not as safe as their Western counterparts. The salary for middle-class workers in our country is not a match for salaries in the Western countries,’ he says.

“For instance in Kenya, a person in the middle class will have to look at the needs of the extended family before spending on luxury. By the end of the day, she/he will find that her/his resources are overstretched.” Odhiambo also attributes the hardships to the growing young population joining the job market every year.

He says these young workers barely have skills to manage their income, which in reality is meagre but appears much for them. “There is a lot of young population joining the job market.

Very few of them know how to manage their income. During the festive season they will spend all their money on luxury without caring about the future. In January that is when they feel the financial hardship,” he says.

Also being the largest group on social media, Odhiambo argues, the outcry of how January is hard will be heard so much and it will seem that every Kenyan is going through it. According to a report released in May last year, youths aged between 15 and 35 years constitute 35 per cent of the population with 67 per cent of these unemployed.

A 2014 study shows that more than 50,000 graduates are churned out of public and private universities in Kenya every year. Most of these graduates earn between Sh30,000 and Sh60,000.

According to Philip Makori, a young communication graduate in Nairobi, January is one of the hardest months for him. “I had money in December but I can’t tell where it has gone,” he says. Showing-off and competition for interests is another aspect that is drowning resources for most Kenyans who want to patronise where they cannot afford.

Then there are those Kenyans who want to live their dream life before actualising it. Some will hire cars when going upcountry to show how “successful” they are. Seeing the “success”, relatives will want to have a taste of the money minted in the city.

Obliged to prove their success, such people will give in and end up spending money meant for January needs. “Everyone wants to fit into the middle class but not everyone has got the financial muscle to make it. However, it is not always an issue of spending and planning. It depends on who is talking and what informs their speech,” Odhiambo concludes.

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