If there’s one thing we know about (other than haircare of course) it’s surviving tough times.
Our business began during the global economic crisis of 2008. It was a time of job cuts and higher interest rates without rising wages. Many struggled with everyday household costs and endured a decline in their standard of living. We saw big brands go bust and house prices tumble. It was a time of great uncertainty in the world, much like what we’re experiencing today with the cost of living crisis.
With rising energy and fuel prices, soaring rents and other daily costs, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little worried or even completely overwhelmed. Please don’t panic - your afro hair care besties have got you.
For over twelve years, Afrocenchix has been looking after your curls, coils and coins by bringing you safe, effective and responsibly made products that are accessible for all.
We’ve heard your concerns around the cost of living crisis and put together our very own survival guide to ‘crisis-proof’ your purse. These 10 top tips will help you build great money habits (while keeping your natural hair well cared for!)
1. Budget baby!
Not all of us saw the current crisis coming. After the global pandemic and the time spent in lockdown, we had only two things on our minds – enjoying new found freedom and living our best lives. Sadly, the economy and our government had other plans...
If you’re worried about finances or unsure how to navigate the current climate, help is at hand. The first steps forward begin with a good old budget spreadsheet.
There are loads of budgeting tools, apps and templates available online (many are even free). An easy rule to help you budget is the 50-20-30 rule. You put 50% of your income on household bills, 20% goes towards savings, debt repayments or investment, which leaves you 30% to spend. Many apps will allow you to set budget limits and will even alert you when you’re near your limit.
I know, I know! At this point, you’re probably wondering how your current lifestyle could possibly still exist on just 30% of your income. Well, keep reading. We have a solution for that too.
2. Get to know yourself
If you’re going to survive in these times, it goes without saying that some regular purchases may have to go. But how do you choose? Well, take a good look at yourself.
We recommend creating a list of expenses you consider as essentials – these are goods and services you actually need, for example, petrol, groceries or essential toiletries like toothpaste or shampoo.
Next, create a list of ‘nice-to-have' items. These should be fairly negligible purchases that you could still afford on occasion without
impacting on your overall financial goals.
Then finally, because we were all living softly, create a list of one-off treats. These will be goods or services kept only for irregular occasions like celebrating your birthday.
Yep, it’s got to be that strict. The essentials are prioritised expenses. The nice-to-haves are small spends that still allow you to feel like you, especially if this new budget is a massive change from what you’ve known. Then finally, the one-
offs leave you something special to look forward to. This method does require a lot of discipline and self-accountability but if done well, you’ll be all the better for it.
Armed with your trusty spreadsheet, you may quickly notice spending patterns and triggers. For example, unplanned purchases that are emotion led or based on a need for comfort or validation. You’ll also clearly be able to identify non-essential expenses that can be cancelled. If you manage to stick to it, not only will you save your coins, but you’ll develop better money habits which will serve you well in the long run.
3. Try new things
From switching spending habits to switching purchase preferences – you’re now on a roll! According to the Office of National Statistics, food prices have increased by an annual rate of 14.6% this year, so there’s never been a better time to experiment with your purchase choices. Are there brands you could
ditch for own brand groceries at the supermarket?
The same approach also applies to haircare. Treasure Tress found that black British women spend £168 million a year on hair products alone. As afro hair care products can be up to 70% more costly than the commercial equivalent for caucasian hair, why not shop around? If healthy hair matters to you, don’t feel tempted to skimp on quality, science-led, safe and sustainable haircare products. Find the best products for you.
Alongside brand switching, you may also want to consider changing other preferences if you haven't already. Batch-cooking and meal-prepping instead of meals out or unplanned, regular take-aways could save you hundreds of pounds a year. Also, don’t be afraid to rain check on expensive nights out or opt for only the social functions you have budgeted for in advance. Many restaurants are currently offering voucher deals and savings to customers via their apps. You’ve got to be savvy to survive!
Finally, if you’re keen to take things up a notch, why not try your hand at some homemade products or upcycling. Check out your local repair café for more information. It’s better for your bank balance and better for the environment. What’s not to love?
4. Get creative
Lockdown saw many of us going ‘back to basics’ out of necessity. With salons closed and scarcity of certain provisions, everyday items became luxury goods overnight. Remember the scramble for penne pasta and loo roll? During those dark times, we were forced to find our inner hair stylist, nail technician and chef. We took to social media to develop our skills and find the best tutorials for everything from DIY box-braids to the freshest, home cut trims. We encourage you to unleash your inner creative once more with some of our previous posts on great styles for natural afro hair.
This includes cool hairstyles for the fellas too. Also consider buddying up with a friend, flatmate or family member who’s particularly skilled with hair to help lower the cost of maintaining your mane. Opt for long-lasting styles which allow you to stretch the time in between appointments with your favourite stylist without having yourself looking wild in these streets.
Don’t be afraid to haggle with your service providers. Price comparison websites allow you to shop around and consider rates for everything from insurance, to mobile phones, TV and breakdown cover. If you’re not happy with your services or rates, go on ahead and see if you can get more for your money. If you’re able to find something more affordable or at a better value, head back to your service provider to negotiate a better rate. If you’ve been a loyal customer, the chances are they won’t want to lose you.
6. Keep your eyes peeled
There are several support schemes and cash payments available for specified groups, regardless of whether you are in receipt of means-tested support. Did you know? You have options - from the Energy Price Guarantee limits, to Council tax rebates of up to £150, the pension credit payment and the disability payment to name a few – there’s help at hand for those who are struggling.
You may still be eligible, even if you do not currently claim government support. Plus, councils have been granted a new tranche of £500 million for the Household Support Fund. Please make sure you’re not missing out. Contact your local council to find out more
7. Don’t love it? Sell it
The cost of living crisis has driven a rise in the circular economy, which in turn is boosting sustainability.
With rising rates for fuel, food and energy, consumers have turned to second-hand shopping and upcycling on platforms such as Ebay, Vinted, Shpock and Amazon Marketplace. A recent Which.co.uk consumer survey found that consumers are taking to the second-hand market place to swap purchases
or sell their unwanted items. Out of the 4,000 people surveyed, the most popular items on sale were books (33%), clothes, accessories or shoes (27%) and games and toys (19%).
If you’ve not already tried selling online, why not give it a go and see how much you could make. In these times, every little helps right? Just ensure you’re clear on the terms, fees and payment policies of the platform provider before signing up. Happy selling!
8. Become your folks
Yes, parents were not asking you to close doors and turn lights off for banter. It turns out that a whopping £147 a year could be saved by turning off appliances when not in use. The worst offenders for high standby charges are devices such as televisions, gaming consoles, kettles, plugged in chargers and lights. If it’s not in use, turn it off and keep your coins. Consider also switching to eco-friendly energy bulbs and only heating the rooms in use, as opposed to your entire home.
9. Challenge yourself
Social media is currently full of various money-saving ideas to make saving easier and a lot more fun.
One idea which we absolutely love is the £1 saving challenge. You start by putting a pound aside every day (whether in an online pot or a physical piggy bank). This could even be achieved by brand-switching to an alternative that could allow you to save your daily pound. It’s a fairly easy way to save £365 a year.
Just think of how many ‘Wash Day’ sets you could purchase with your savings!
Those feeling more motivated could always increase their daily amount to something higher that is still achievable and sustainable. There are other fun variations of this challenge like the ‘incremental 1p saving challenge’ and the ‘brand switch challenge’. The money saved can fund your lifestyle and any investments you make.
10. Take care of yourself
If there were any lessons learned from lockdown, it was the importance of cherishing those you love.
The pressure of current times could have you feeling low, anxious and unable to share. Resist the urge to run, hide and suffer silently. Keep those relationships that are nurturing, positive and supportive.
Spend time with your circle and open up about how you’re feeling. Or perhaps just catch-up over a cuppa and a laugh. The chances are that others can relate, even if they too may feel uncomfortable opening up at first.
Ensure you get enough sleep, water and maintain a healthy diet. You could end up
experiencing positive changes to your mind, body and maybe even your hair.
Despite our fears about starting business at such an uncertain time, we believed in our vision and journeyed our wonderful community. That’s why we’re still here.
Financial upheavals are cyclical in nature. They will come and go but be rest assured that through it all, we’ll be right beside you keeping your hair cared for as we ride the wave together. Let’s hope for brighter days ahead and share what we can to help each other out.
We’d love to know any other money-management tips you’ve found helpful during this past year. How are you saving money? What ways are you all the better for it? Let us know on Twitter, @Afrocenchix!