I owe you…

For the last 4 years I have been trying to detach myself from the debt system. The system is like a Sea Wasp or Marine Stinger, its tentacles mean death. Once it’s got a hold of you…there is no letting go…unless you make a decision to detach yourself.

The global debt bubble is bulging and pretty soon it will pop and things will get messy.

In South Africa, the household-debt-to-income ratio is around 78% leaving an average of R22 out of every R100 that South Africans earn each month (after tax) to buy food, clothing, toiletries etc and pay for school fees, water and lights, insurance, entertainment, holidays etc… no wonder the rate of household saving has declined to virtually nothing. (Gary Wilde)

From personal experience I know how difficult it is. Ashley and I lost almost everything in 2006 when a make-believe investor stole all our hard-earned profits. Since then it has been a struggle to get by.

People are starving and are jobless. It is a never-ending cycle. Although the government has put out a plea to the people to start saving more…it is extremely difficult under the circumstances. People also lend out of desperation.  It is a reality… we have a backlog in this country. Don’t get me wrong, I am not being pessimistic, I am being real. I am not making excuses but our past has had a huge impact on where we are today.

Ashley and I decided to make a conscious effort this year to save. I opened a savings account and collectively we saved a mere R150 per month. To some of you it might seem futile, but we were determined. About a month ago, we were forced to use it as one of our clients decided not to pay us. Immediately everything spiraled and we had to draw from our savings. I am sure that story seems familiar.

Now I agree that in general we are not trained too well in financial planning.  In fact, I think it should become part of the school curriculum.  Our kids need to be taught how to budget and work wisely with their money so they don’t repeat the cycle.  As a parent I have to teach my kids responsible spending.

But where do you start?

Due the state of the economy, high taxes, the increased cost of living, interest rates, government corruption, banks, creditors I was forced to make drastic changes to start living more responsibly.  Allow me to share some of them:

  1. Budget…budget…budget.  I cannot stress this enough.  “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail” (Gavin Cupido).  You need to outline your expenses and know where your money is going.
  2. Don’t buy on credit.  I know it’s difficult, but if you cannot afford to buy it cash, then don’t.
  3. Cut on luxuries.  We had to cut out holidays, eating out, buying expensive foods, toys, etc.
  4. I plan my meals so I can plan my grocery bill.  Let me tell you it works.  I try to be disciplined and I only buy what’s on the list.
  5. We live more consciously by managing our electricity.  Luckily we have a pre-paid meter so we can keep tabs on our usage.  We have also bought an inexpensive gel-stove which I cook on.  It also saves a lot on electricity.

These are just some of the changes we had to make.  Our life is far from perfect.  We still have a lot of catching up to do but these alterations have already made an impact.

If we don’t make a conscious effort to budget and save pretty soon our kids will be singing this song of debt (on the Barney tune):

I owe you

you owe me

we’re becoming a sad family

with a great debt bubble

and no hope for me and you

won’t you start saving so I can live too.

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