Malindi and Forced Frugality

malindi market produce

I used to love market runs until I met Malindi.  Something about fresh produce that would excite my every Saturday. Now, I’d postpone those for as long as it’s possible. I dread those visits – a constant confrontation of my expectations versus adult realities. My first visit to the market here was easily a culture shock. I would do my quick math and nothing added up. It was too expensive to live here. Still is. Tourists love it here, residents though? Debatable. Everything is sold at Italian price. Clearly I am not the target market. But I pay a heavy price because of that, in form of utilities and household expenses.

We moved towns a few months ago and I’m still reeling from the effects of the high cost of living. This little rich in Italian culture town is drying my non-existent pockets at a rate only Kenya Power would be aware of. My rant mode is ever on, I step out for a minute, I come back home with emptied pockets and nothing to show for the deficit.

Long before we moved, I came across a resourceful list from one of those Facebook mom tribes. Her ‘teachings’ had me groomed to a fastidious fault. I was ready for anything the Capital would throw at me after living in convenience for a long time.

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It made sense. Especially when you have a new addition to your home, with school fees to add to your budget. Expenses have to be met from a frugal mindset. Nothing is convenient once you start adulting. Convenience is never cheap and rarely frugal. The thing with very cheap goods is that there is a 90% chance that they are counterfeits. Looking at You Dubois Road. Then You encounter an IG store that sells you a fake product at original product price. We need to do better my country people. Nway like I was saying, now I am being forced to forge my own path and take a lifestyle downgrade – extreme frugality and embracing the minimal life. The Minimalism Book, Podcast and Documentary is my ultimate guide. I just want to own as little as I can afford.

Our weekly groceries at Kiambu was at Ksh 1500 inclusive of Mandla’s weaning foods. Now, I add 1000 on top to get the same amount of stuff I would get in Kiambu. Electricity bill is up by an extra 1k. Oh, let’s not touch house shopping. I remember watching The Green Calabash when Shiko was calculating their monthly expenses and I got so pissed at my reality. Here is a family of 3 being robbed of joy by the high cost of coastal living. Tragic. I did a poll on IG on weekly groceries and the results were rather interesting. The minority is not feeling the pinch and obviously, the ones with child spend more but I noticed it’s not just a Malindi thing. We’re all in this.

You can’t impulse buy in this economy, so you simply resent the way things are.  You grow numb to how costly life is. But costly it still is. Unnecessary flippant purchases are a thing of the past. Besides, it’s next to impossible accessing certain goods and services around Malindi. A blessing in disguise really. You can’t buy stuff in bulk and stress over how they’ll be utilized over a period of time either, those are rich people problems now. Luxury is slowly becoming a throwback.

Saving by default is the norm. Meal Planning is no longer a choice but a routine. Monthly shopping lists with exact pricing to evaluate any changes are my life now. All I have to do is trim down the problematic food budget. Awesome yeah? I mean do I really need that 30 shilling coriander that flaunts only two leaves? The food looks and tastes good already. The big shift in priorities is real Y’all.

It’s not all gloom, my nomadic self will surely miss this place when it’s time to move again. The weather is now perfect for me, no traffic, no poor drainage, no water rationing, no thieves or conmen lurking around, amazing people…

I remember spending almost an entire month searching for a loctician that made sense in terms of affordability and quality. Let’s just say you have to compromise one. My bargain skills have gone to Havard. I argue everytime vendors tell me that’s how it is over here. Sometimes they blame it on the weather which is such a cheap excuse, I’d take it. Funny thing is no one cares for your negotiations here, you either take the fixed price or leave. The other day at the butchery a Tripe Lover caused a scene after the suspicious scales weighed in a barely there 1kg of tripe. I chuckled at the fact that the struggle is not just mine alone. Perhaps the last straw was when I bought 3 tiny sized onions at 80 shillings. I canceled eating asap.

How do you plan and manage your budgets?


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