The amount of income determines the kind of lifestyle to live. This article will explain how to survive with a 20000 shillings salary in Kenya.

It is a fact majority of Kenyans don’t earn big salaries, especially those working in the informal sectors. However, there are success stories of people who manage to live within their small salaries comfortably.

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The nature of money is that it will never be adequate. However, you can create a great life on the available income as long as you can follow some basic financial guidelines.

Below are some tips on how to survive on a 20000 shillings salary in Kenya.

  • Rent a House in an Affordable Neighborhood

Housing is among the biggest cost elements in Kenya with the majority of people spending most of their income on it. This becomes harder if you are living in the big towns and cities where the cost of housing is higher than in the rural areas.

As per the financial rules, you should not spend more than 30% of your income on housing. With a 20,000 shillings salary, the maximum you can spend on rent is 6,000 shillings.

This guides the kind of areas you should search for a house especially in big cities such as Nairobi. Some of the areas you could settle for with this salary are low-income neighborhoods areas such as Kawangware.

Another option would be to go for house sharing. This requires you to get a roommate to share the housing cost with. Finding a roommate will help you reduce the rent amount since you will cost-share the rent amongst yourselves.

The only challenge with house-sharing is that it takes away privacy and is prone to frequent conflicts.

  • Create a Monthly Shopping list

Shopping is another expense that requires proper planning and control with this salary. You have to incur some periodic expenses purchasing items necessary for survival. These include items such as clothing. Foodstuff and detergents.

Therefore, to avoid spending recklessly, you should come up with a monthly shopping list that helps you manage money better.

With a 20,000 salary, do not go for high-end products as they are more expensive.

You should also consider shopping in more cost-friendly areas such as farmers’ markets for groceries and meat products. These places offer products at a lower price compared to purchasing items in a supermarket.

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For clothes, you should buy quality and affordable mitumba clothes, instead of looking for high-end designer clothes and shoes.

Avoid creating debts with the mama mboga, since it can be costly in the long run. Whenever you buy groceries on credit, pay the debt as soon as possible. If you continuously rack up debt with the mama mboga, you create a habit of overspending.

Stick to your budget religiously to avoid being broke continuously.

  • Avoid Eating Out

Eating out tends to be more expensive as compared to making food at home. With this amount of salary, there is not much room to eat out.

As an example, you can spend 1,000 shillings on a restaurant meal that you can prepare at home for less than 100 shillings.

To fully minimize food expenses, consider carrying packed food to work. If you get a need for special food, google the recipes and cook the food. This not only saves you money but also ensures you can get the quality and size that you require.

  • Opt for Home Entertainment

Entertainment is a key need that we have to lead us to spend a lot of money in fulfilling it. However, the kind of entertainment you can get with this amount of salary is limited.

But do not despair, for you can still have fun at home. Instead of going out, you can instead opt for a house party.

This reduces some costs such as transportation and food. It is also safer.

Depending on your type of entertainment, it is easier to create it at home by buying some of the relevant appliances such as a music system and television.

If it is a movie, you can watch it at home instead of going to a movie theatre. This approach allows you to have fun while still saving money.

  • Practice the Saving Culture

Savings is a key element in financial success. It not only gives you a fallback plan during a bad day but also allows you to invest.

This is the journey most successful people have taken before making it a proven concept. With an income of 20,000 shillings, the goal should be to increase it over time through investment.

However, saving is not an easy approach especially due to the pressure of the needs. It is recommended you save at least 10% of your income. With this salary, the amount of savings should be at least 2,000 shillings

There is a famous savings quote that says “What sets the rich from the poor is their saving culture. Rich people save before they spend, while the poor save what is left after spending”.

The best way to start saving is the automation of the process such as using a standing order. This ensures savings money is deducted before you can receive the salary. By doing so, it removes the temptation to spend the saved money since you won’t have direct access to it.

Alternatively, you can join a Chama. Joining a Chama will promote your savings habit since you are required to make regular contributions.

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  • Invest the Savings

You should only save with a purpose. One such purpose is an investment. Investing allows you to grow your income and with this comes more financial freedom.

There are various investment opportunities that you can take depending on the risk. These include investing in the stock market, money market, equity funds, and buying government bonds.

Before investing, you need to do adequate market research to avoid the risk of losing your savings. In case you don’t have the relevant information, you can engage the services of a professional for investment advice. However, you need to know this comes at a cost.

  • Get Medical Insurance.

Recently, the Kenyan parliament passed a law that makes it compulsory for every Kenyan citizen to have medical insurance through the National Hospital Insurance Fund.

The minimum monthly contribution for every citizen is 500 shillings.

For most employees, the employers commit to contributing to their staff. However, you can also contribute personally in case the employer doesn’t.

Medical insurance is great protection from huge medical costs that could arise regularly. With the NHIF, you can receive both inpatient and outpatient packages. In some cases, it also applies to the family members.

Therefore, remember to make monthly contributions to your NHIF.

  • Pay Off Your Debts

Once you save and make the necessary contributions, it is time to pay off debts.

Debts can be in the form of mobile loans, credit card debts, shopkeepers, and mama mboga debts

A key factor to remember is: to control your debt-racking habits. Avoid racking up small as they end up getting big.

Reduction of debts also helps minimize the costs of servicing them such as interest rates, processing fees, and penalties. Defaulting on the debt could also lead to listing with the credit reference bureaus (CRB) affecting your future credit score. Therefore, avoid racking up debts whenever possible.

A way to minimize your debt-racking habits is by setting up an emergency fund and investing your funds. With an emergency fund, you will have money available to use when the need arises. Ideally, your emergency fund should have 6 months’ worth of living expenses.

With an emergency fund in place, you can fit in extra expenses without having to rack up debt.

  • Start a Side Hustle.

If you feel that 20k is not enough money for you, go ahead and start a side hustle business. The best side hustle business for an employed worker is one that does not affect the main job. Choose a side hustle that does not overlap with your working hours.

You can start a side hustle by using your savings to start a business. However, if you do not have any money saved up for a start-up, you can become a freelancer.

Freelancing skills do not require any initial capital. There are many freelancing sites out there where you can list your skills and source for clients.

With a side hustle business, your living standards will improve since you have an extra source of income.

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Surviving on 20,000 shillings per month requires proper budgeting. With different bills and expenses to pay, you need to account for every single coin.

Following these simple steps will empower you to survive on a 20000 shillings salary in Kenya.

To recap, you can survive on 20,000 shillings by:

  1. Renting a house in an affordable neighborhood
  2. Creating a monthly shopping list
  3. Avoid eating out
  4. Opt for at-home entertainment
  5. Practice the saving culture
  6. Investing your savings
  7. Get a medical insurance
  8. Pay off your dept
  9. Starting a side hustle


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