Strategies to deploy when financial situation worsens

Entrepreneurship skills can help increase streams of income.

THE economic situation in Zimbabwe continues to be on a downward spiral. In order to survive the harsh economic times, the private sector is retrenching.

Government hardly ever retrenches its employees, preferring to adopt creative ways of keeping people employed, like continuously paying ridiculously low salaries, with chucklesome increments of US$$20, as was reported last week.

No one is immune to financial difficulties. One season you might be affluent, wining and dining with the well-heeled of high society and another season, you might find yourself flat broke, a temporary state, or downright poor, a more permanent state and very likely difficult to come out from.

There are a whole host of reasons why peoples’ financial circumstances change for the worst, ranging from divorce where the asset base is split making the divorcing parties fail to afford the life they lived together before, illness, prolonged unemployment, poor planning, what seemed like good plans going wrong, retrenchment, etcetera.

When the financial scales are tipped against your favour, here are 10 strategies for averting total disaster whilst resolving your financial problems.

Understand nature of problem

As the breadwinner, it is key to unpack the degree to which you are now exposed financially.

Honesty to yourself and the family is key. Do not leave the children behind if they are of an adequate comprehension age. Calculate the budget and present it to the family.

Understand that in times like these, no one person has the monopoly of great ideas. Buy in from those affected eases the emotional load.

Take an example where the breadwinner has been retrenched and the wife is a stay home mum.

There are three children in the family all going to high school at traditional private schools like Peterhouse, Chisipite School, Arundel, etcetera.

The breadwinners’ company was paying for the fees 100%.

Suddenly that benefit is no longer there. The family had a house with a mortgage in Eastlea. The breadwinner had a company car, which they are allowed to buy at book value, but they cannot even afford to purchase it because their termination benefits are insufficient to cover that purchase.

Draw up a budget and understand where the deficits lie.

Table the budget to the family, after yourself as the breadwinner have jotted your own personal ideas on how to get out of this financial quandary.

Focus on fixed cost minimisation

The situation that we have outlined above is a difficult one because there is no time for cushioning whilst you explore other options.

In South Africa for example, whilst you are still gainfully employed, there is provision for you to take insurance cover, to cover your mortgage bond for up to four months in the event of your retrenchment.

Four months is not a long time, but it gives you additional runway to make a plan as you frantically explore ways to get out of your financial demise.

Pull children from expensive schools

Luckily because many middle class parents no longer afford the traditional private schools mentioned above, there has been a mushrooming of low cost, value-for-money private schools in the suburbs where you pay at most 30% of the fees of traditional private schools.

Better still you can opt for home schooling in home schooling facilities scattered around the country.

Do your homework and investigate the home schools nearest to you.

There is also online home schooling, following the IGCSE syllabus, so ensure that you have got Wi-Fi all the time.

Share one vehicle

Having several cars at your household is a luxury you can no longer afford. If you have more than three cars, get rid of two and share one car where you coordinate trips and cut out all unwanted trips.

The idea here is to minimise costs. It will be painful during early days, but you will get used to it in the long run.

Pay mortgage for at least four months

To have a roof over your head is the most important thing. Paying your mortgage for at least four months in advance is a way of creating a longer runway for yourself, so that you could plan without the pressure of having monthly mortgage payments troubling you when the money left will soon run out.

Immediately change your circle

The people in your current circle, whom you interact with socially and familiarly, if they are a competitive and judgemental lot, will be the first ones to ululate that financial hard times have befallen you.

Change your circle if you must. You are not accountable to anyone but your immediate family.

But in the event that you have always viewed certain family and friends to be enabling in the past, share your predicament with them, for they might be the ones with the solutions to get you out of your demise. 

Advise your personal bankers

Bankers are very suspicious of people who hide when they are experiencing financial trouble. Approach them with a comprehensive plan of how you believe you are going to get out of your financial predicament.

Approach them with a feasible plan with set timelines. They ordinarily oblige until they see that you are not sticking to the plan.

Do not borrow from Peter to pay Paul

Refrain from acquiring more debt either from individuals or financial institutions. Do not try to continue to live beyond your means, posturing whilst giving the impression that all is well when it is not.

That is why changing your circle with certain expectations from you is necessary.

Ego-management is key

Ego is a feeling inside you that makes you feel special and different from everyone else. It is related to one's self-esteem and self-image.

According to the Los Angeles based Vedanta Institute, ego is the source of conviction, confidence and determination. In this sense, it is a great strength of every human being.

Thus, ego is a healthy phenomenon. In the absence of the ego-spirit, man cannot do anything and as far as great achievements are concerned, they are impossible without the ego-spirit.

Ego-management is the price of social living. Every commodity has an inevitable price, without paying this price one cannot acquire that commodity. So is the case of reaping the benefits of social living. If one wants to enjoy the benefits of social living one will have to learn the art of ego-management. Family and friends can be ruthless passing snide remarks about your family having fallen from grace and how you are now using one small car, after pulling your children from top notch private schools.

It is wise not to fall into a trap where you want to prove otherwise and end up over budget, by spending money you do not have, so that you can prove a point that, what they are saying is untrue.

Always remember that what people think of you is none of your business. Stay the course, of sticking to your revised plans until they is a new source of income for the family. Also when you change your circle, you do not have the burden of managing your ego.

 Devise viable ways to bring in income

There are many plausible ways to bring in income but everything depends on who and what is informing your thinking. We have heard of people selling their homes and getting entry into the United Kingdom to work as carers, only to realise that, that opportunity was a poisoned chalice.

The UK is no longer allowing dependants to follow, breaking up the social fabric of the families within societies.

Already there are innumerable social ills that have emerged, associated with separation trauma of children suffering from being left behind by parents in search of greener pastures offshore.

Here are a few potentially viable opportunities to ponder on.

Scan the local market for jobs

Zimbabwe is a tough environment to work in, because the cost of living is high, but first and foremost, it is wise to first scan the local job market for opportunities.

The diaspora always looks attractive but all that glitters is not gold. If you do extensive research, you will discover the huge social costs of living in foreign lands as a second class citizen.

Emigrating to countries recruiting

Countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia to mention a few, are scouting for educated immigrants that will be provided with opportunities in their line of education and experience. Investigate further with local embassies and get first-hand information.

Entrepreneurship might be an option

Entrepreneurship, while rewarding for many, is not a path suited for everyone. It demands a high level of commitment, resilience, and versatility, along with the ability to handle uncertainty, risk, and potential failure. In addition, most business start making money between three to five years.

Much of entrepreneurship means knowing your worth, sticking to it, and looking people in the eye while you ask for the sale.

You have to be comfortable talking about money and not shying away from awkward situations. If you are uncomfortable selling or talking about money, you should not be an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is not necessarily a quick money fix, unless if you do not mind going into trading, say in the local produce market, where you are buying for example, roma tomatoes in bulk from Mutoko, Mashonaland East and selling them in Harare markets for a profit.

You do not have the risk of cropping or warehousing the produce as you only collect the produce for delivery to a confirmed market. It is profitable but tough and you need grit and high negotiation skills.

The truth is most businesses making money in Zimbabwe are businesses were you collect your profit a US$1 at a time. So you need frequent turnover of stock to operate in the thousands of dollars.

Always pay for everything in cash

Because you are now on a tight budget, pay for everything with cash. Only spend what you have and cut your credit and debit cards with a scissors and throw them in the bin.

Must be gainfully employed

In times of financial hardship, both parents in a household ought to work.

There is no reason not to work if you are not blind, deaf, dumb and abled-differently.

But then again, there are many abled-differently people working in Zimbabwe, so that is not an excuse to not work at all.

Working from home

The rise of remote work was ushered in during Covid-19 and there are many online jobs available around the globe where you are able to work remotely. is one such website where you can register and start applying for remote jobs around the globe getting paid via PayPal or straight into your account.

Depending on their skill sets, both parents in a household or a single parent for that matter, can derive between US$2 000 upwards monthly from remote work depending on the job you are qualified for.

  • Ndoro-Mkombachoto is a former academic and banker. She has consulted widely in strategy,entrepreneurship and private sector development for organisations that include Seed Co Africa, Hwange Colliery, RBZ/CGC, Standard Bank of South Africa, Home Loans, IFC/World Bank, UNDP, USAid, Danida, Cida, Kellogg Foundation, among others, as a writer, property investor, developer and manager. — @HeartfeltwithGloria/ +263 772 236 341.

Related Topics