Until the 2007-2009 recession, the 1981-1982 recession was the worst economic recession in the United States since the Great Depression. Records show that Ghana suffered from a severe famine in the early 1980s. The crisis was the result of a drought that reduced grain production by 13 percent, coupled with widespread bushfires that devastated agricultural production, coinciding with Nigeria’s deportation order giving illegal immigrants there fourteen days to leave the country. About 1.2 million Ghanaians returned home after this deportation order.
Over the past three years, there has also been a general economic slowdown, with several countries making efforts to recover from their economic difficulties. This is underpinned by the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war. Like many economies, Ghana’s economy has not been immune to economic shocks. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate has been revised downwards from the actual position of 5.4% in 2021 (2020: 0.5%) to 3.30% for the first quarter of 2022. The Positioned debt to GDP ratio remains high at 78.3% in August 2022. With an inflation rate skyrocketing to 33.9% in August 2022, the country joined the “uncelebrated” list of best African countries with the highest inflation. The local currency of the dollar has depreciated by almost 40% and is trading from 1 USD to 10.04 GHS. To add to the woes, recent sovereign rating downgrades by the three major rating agencies have muddyed the waters.
Typically, times are tough, and this has impacted the big 3 “Fs” – Food, Fuel, Finances. The key question that needs to be asked is 1). How did you experience the inflation monster in your personal life? And 2) Have you resorted to any cost-cutting measures in your personal life? These are two key areas where I would like to share some thoughts on how to navigate difficult times like this. This piece is also inspired by a presentation given by Mr. Tsonam Akpeloo, President and CEO of SUKU Technologies during a seminar on leadership. In today’s challenging environment, how do you manage personal finance categories. I will try to touch on some of the key areas.
Your health is your life and of course, special attention must be paid to health-related challenges. The most significant health costs are the long-term health costs for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks, cancer, etc. In order to save costs in the long run, you just have to stay healthy!. Get more exercise, like simple daily walks. For those who can afford it, it is recommended to use and join a gym. Visit the hospital regularly and keep up to date with annual checkups. Take advantage of all the health insurance formulas to examine yourself.
food and drinks
I remember going to the supermarket to do some shopping and was only able to choose 4 items from the shelf with GHS300. I couldn’t believe my eyes. At times like this, it may be prudent to consider buying non-perishable groceries (e.g. rice, cereal, bottled water, beans) in bulk on the Tradeford and also on the Marketplace. Currently, the prices of goods and services continue to rise daily. To save money, it’s worth considering items from local bulk markets that can last a while.
Do not give small changes of money, take advantage of them and collect discounts and coupons that you can find in magazines, newspapers for discount sales. Most importantly, buy from local markets or cheaper malls. I’m sure we all know the most expensive ones.
Restaurants and bars
Believe it or not, some restaurants and bars sell food and drink at exorbitant prices and extort money from vulnerable people. Consider cooking at home instead of eating out regularly. Homemade foods are a healthier option. Even if from time to time you want to treat yourself, opt for more economical establishments. If you are like me who likes to throw parties, it will be appropriate and prudent to organize events and parties with friends at home, rather than other venues or bars which may cost you more.
With the upward adjustment of crude prices from international oil producing countries, there is this natural tendency for transportation rates to spike in various jurisdictions.. Just recently in Ghana, in consultation with the parent body, the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) of the TUC announced to the general public that there will be a 30% increase on fares from 21st September 2022. More early in May, freight rates increased. up 20% and when the new tariffs came into effect, petrol and diesel were selling at a national average of GH¢9.41 and GH¢11.12 respectively. At present, the price of petrol per liter has exceeded GH¢11 and diesel is selling for over GH¢14 per liter at most pumps.
For local trips, drive more often with fuel-efficient cars. For colleagues working in the same neighborhood in town or children attending the same or nearby school, it may be prudent to consider carpooling to reduce fuel costs. Unfortunately, in Ghana everyone wants to look good and drive and so carpooling is not appealing to many. Besides carpooling, it is better to use carpooling services like Uber share, Bolt or public transport like trotros.
For international travel, consider booking flights and hotels earlier and through online discount websites or download apps such as Bookings.com, Skyscanner, Expedia for varied options. Interestingly, experts say that Sunday at 7 p.m. (from the place of departure) is the best time to book cheaper flights.
The education is good and believe me, there is no way I will compromise my children’s education. I’m sure many of us reading this article share similar opinions. However, at times like this, one might consider foregoing expensive after-school tutoring for cheaper online alternatives. Educational materials are available online, such as Khan Academy, for all ages and several subjects. https://www.khanacademy.org/.
People let “peer pressure” rule and send their wards to expensive schools with unaffordable dollar tuition. It is better to seek moderate, affordable and quality education for children instead.
On a personal level, personal development is very important, one can register for free or subsidized online certificates and programs such as Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/, EdX: https://www. edx.org/, Udemy: https://www.udemy.com/, Skillshare: https://www.skillshare.com/ to expand knowledge.
Many working class people in Ghana barely take a break and go on vacation. However, if you wish to go on holiday, it may be a good idea to consider a holiday during the low traffic season such as April, late or early summer (May or September), October. Venture into more local African destinations to support local tourism. In Ghana, there are several cheaper destination centers such as Kakum Forest, Crocodile Ponds and several other waterfalls to explore in the country.
Consider external holidays in North Africa: Morocco, Egypt (direct flights via Royal Air Maroc or Egyptair) East Africa: Rwanda, Kenya (Rwandair, Kenya Airways) Explore more affordable luxury destinations.
To save money, buy local products and avoid importing cosmetics from abroad which has conferred the local currency. You may consider ordering from Laam Shea: https://laamshea.com/,CedarWoman;https://cedarwomanghana.com/,Ghandour:https://www.ghandourcosmetics.com/. It is always better to buy products such as soap, shampoos and conditioners in bulk.
It is an undeniable fact that men spend moderately on clothes compared to women. I say this because a gentleman can survive on a few nice tops and t-shirts for months and still look decent. I have a friend who sews a dress for every occasion and doesn’t wear it twice. For ready-to-wear clothes, explore more affordable online marketplaces. For bespoke clothing, look for cheaper but quality brands: Kiki (Made in Ghana): https://kikiclothing.com. Woodin Fashion (made in Ghana): https://www.woodinfashion.com.
The list and strategies are endless, the key to remember is that times are tough and may continue to be tough if Ghana does not become self-sufficient in production, so it is important to adopt a positive attitude where there is a need to consolidate the whole social support system. Do an audit and adjust your lifestyle. Avoid impulse buying and buy in bulk instead to save money.
Doing all of the above, strive to save, regardless of the amount of salary, and also try to invest. Also, if the pay seems insufficient, you need to get a scramble. Married people should both work so that each brings money home.
Thanks for reading and sharing.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are personal opinions and do not represent those of the media house or institution in which the author works.
About the writer
Carl Odame-Gyenti, PhD is a banking, finance and investment professional in an international bank in Ghana. Contact: [email protected]Mobile: +233 200301110