Dagny Zenovia

How I Use Money and Keep a Budget in Ghana

Let’s talk about money. The thing everyone wants and the thing most are uncomfortable sharing details about. Financial literacy really makes a difference in your life, regardless of where you live. How you spend and budget is equally as important to how much you earn. So, in this video, I discuss how I made a point to understand the variety of payment methods and transactions in Ghana and monitor what things cost and how much I spend.

The payments methods I use in Ghana are cash, debit card, checks, and MTN mobile money. The most convenient method is mobile money because it can be used to pay monthly bills, purchase products and services, and be used as a method to receive payments. In the video, I explain how to set up mobile money on your phone.

Living expenses can vary depending on where you live and your lifestyle. Like I said in the video, my monthly bills slightly fluctuate. For estimating purposes, my electricity bill is 200 Ghc ($40), diesel bill is 200 Ghc ($40), water bill is 20 Ghc ($4), internet is 350 Ghc ($70), groceries is 100 – 200 Ghc twice a month ($40 – $80) and gas is 170 Ghc ($35). Finding where to shop for essentials makes a difference in how much you spend. Accra has a number of grocery stores, including Palace, Shoprite, Game, Melcolm, MaxMart, and Koala. I have shopped at all of them and found each of them have such helpful people working there. I primarily shop for legumes, frozen vegetables, rice, couscous, and spices at MaxMart, bread at Koala, and plantains, avocados, and peppers at an outside mini market.

When it comes to keeping a budget, the first thing you need to do is monitor your spending, like what I mentioned above. I used a note on my phone. There are also a variety of apps you can use to monitor your spending. The information you need to focus on is the dates you spend and categorizing your expenses. Search the app store for “budget” or “personal spending” for options that fit your preference.

I monitored my spending for about 6 months because I was also learning the currency and what things cost. You can monitor your spending for at least a month. The categories are important because it helps analyze your data. For example, you may not have any control over your essential expenses, like rent and amenities, but you could find alternatives for lifestyle expenses, like take-out food. Once you have this data, you can compare it to the amount of money you earn. The goal is to balance spending less than you earn. You can do this intentionally without depriving your lifestyle by planning your future spending. Each month you stick to alternatives for your lifestyle expenses to maintain that balance. I find this helps shift your mindset around your power with money. It is needed to pay bills, but it can also be used to plan, invest, and save beyond recurring essential expenses.

Regarding consumerism culture, I have found my spending habits evolving while living in Ghana. I have always been frugal, but shopping, especially for miscellaneous things, was usually an isolated experience. I would check ASOS to see what they have, even if I have no where to go. Now, when I visit home, I still check ASOS, but don’t feel the urge to purchase as much. Instead, I really enjoy shopping in Ghana at pop-up events. Since the majority of my wardrobe has been Western focused for so long, I am more focused on adding statement pieces that are afrocentric and traditionally African. There are a variety of boutiques in Accra plus many talented designers and tailors. I love shopping at pop-up events because it feels more personal. I get to chat with the designer and brand owner. I always ask about their inspiration, how long they have been in business, and what their brand story is. During every national holiday that creates a long weekend, the Accra Goods Market hosts a pop-up event. It features several vendors in clothing, accessories, fabric, decor, and food. Plus a DJ to keep the party vibe. I have attended three of their pop-ups so far and have purchased so many unique gems each time.

My consumerism behavior has become more intentional while living in Ghana. I feel this is because there is more of a sense of community and more opportunities to shop local. My purchase goes beyond a faceless transaction between a product and currency. Each piece has its own personality, which makes the shopping experience more worth while.

Dagny Zenovia

How do you keep a budget? What is your shopping personality? Share with me in the comments below.

Also, remember to connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. I love hearing from you.

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