Austerity measures

The Cambridge Dictionary defines Austerity Measures as “official action by a government to reduce the amount of money it spends, or the amount of money that people in a country spend.”  These words are being incorporated into our language as we hear of more budget cuts to reduce on spending.

As one would logically conclude, these measures are also affecting the spending habits at home. Well, as of today, I am going to announce the budget cuts at home in true Minister of Finance fashion. Briefcase, fancy dress and hat. A full speech too.

In all seriousness, it is a time to think more on how to spend less without breaking bank and falling into debt. Saving will also appear to be a far fetched idea but I want to be positive about it and stick to it. There a few ideas I picked up along the way to help the situation and certainly hope they will be effective.

By the way, the government has introduced a scheme to pay back student loans for a period of ten years through monthly deductions for those on the Government  Payroll. Alas, I am one of the fishes in the net and the first deduction was not pretty and did not feel great. Here goes my austerity measures for the next ten years!

  1. Adopting a mindset of saving rather than spending.
  2. Have a spreadsheet of all key expenses. I have a spreadsheet that is fully customisable to your NEEDS. Fill it out every month, starting with the important stuff first like rent, utility bills, food and transport. You definitely don’t want to be homeless, without water and power(unless loadshedding happens), hungry and stranded at point B with no means to get to point A.
  3. Do set aside something to throw into a savings account for that really rainy day. This starts with what is in point 1. Save rather than spend. Kindly note that you will need to spend sometimes crying as you put back that beloved product back on the shelf and just wail as you walk out of the store with the important stuff.
  4. I can’t remember the other stuff because I can sense an ugly cry for the stuff I will miss out on till I get my books in order especially after the cuts on my salary. Coming to think of it, adaptation is also important in this regard.

Be assured that you will not live a boring life with all these measures. You will just be more prudent. I have had great holidays thanks to the savings mentality. It takes some calculations but you will get there eventually.

 

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Reunions

You know that text that comes through in a group chat on having a meetup/reunion of sorts? Yes that one. It always pops up and people get all excited about it saying how great it would be to meet and catch up.

Got one a few weeks ago and interestingly, a few people came out in the open that they would not make it on the proposed dates. Note that this is a group of about eighteen. From the few that declined participation, the others were on board. Fast forward a couple of days before the meet up and a message on the venue and menu was posted. The response? Radio silence. Like dead quiet, nothing! I laughed. I’m guilty for not responding either but I did plan to go. Needed the company.

On the morning of the meetup, apologies started pouring in. Genuine reasons too. So there I was thinking twice about going. Fortunately, I had terrorised one of the group members into attending and I just had to make it to or else she would end me. There was my motivation. Unforeseen occurrences came up and I was two hours late but I showed up. I made the reunion, I made the meetup. Head count? Four. Four out of eighteen you guys. I’m laughing as I type this.when-you-try-to-make-plans-in-the-group-chat-and-nobody-answers-you-YuE7n

Anyway, it was great that we were so few, we got to talk about a variety of topics and the last thing we discussed was that we needed to seriously think about the person we were becoming.  This struck a chord because earlier in the year, I decided to start preparing myself for projects I wanted to take on, goals and so on. The meeting was the reminder I needed to help me continue focussing. I am glad I went and grateful for the others that did too. Despite what was going on hours before the meeting, I showed up. I showed up. It is a big deal for me that I showed up. Will tell you about it sometime.

Got to the office and heard that my boss was planning a camping trip with the single guys of the department. I smiled at the thought and remembered the hustle of group trips. One even came to tell me that he isn’t going. I tried to encourage him to think about it as it may be an experience he will appreciate for a long time, or not hahahaha.

C’est la vie

I found myself saying these words over and over through the year. Whenever I got disappointed, “c’est la vie”; sad news, “c’est la vie”; my crush getting a girlfriend, “c’est la vie”… the list of things that happened all ended up with me saying, “c’est la vie”. My state of indifferent acceptance of what was going on around me.

Complaining was out of the question because just like the “c’est la vie” phase, the complaining phase was an ongoing phase for extended periods. It was either one or the other. Middle ground, I don’t know what to call it is what I am yet to find. People say that the older you get, the easier it is to find that sweet spot where you deal with issues like a proper adult should. Alas here I am failing at being a millenial, failure to launch kind of situation.

Anyway, it is Monday and should probably get back to work. Don’t worry, I am doing this during my tea break. Now that I have figured out how to stay here on my computer, will share a few more thoughts of the “c’est la vie” moments. You may be surprised to find a few gems of wisdom.

Before I go, Congratulations to the new moms. Mwiza and Juliet, you guys are awesome and may you be granted the strength to take on your new roles.

Three things

For some time now, there has been a trend running on Facebook about gratitude. These range from memes to stories and challenges on pages that preach gratitude. 

Some posts are quite cliché but a further look springs new meaning to them. My favourite of all is the challenge where each one gets to state what they are are grateful for everyday. Most times, such challenges are limited to seven days. Sounds easy enough, huh?

The main instruction is to write down three things that you are grateful for, for seven days. Easy peasy! 

What I thought was going to be easy turned out to be one of the most difficult things I had to do. Three looked like a thousand. My list would often have two very similar items and one other item that people often throw out there ever so often. 

Gratitude, is a sense of appreciation for all things good even in the most difficult situations. That’s how I look at it at least. To be honest, being grateful under difficult times is one of the hardest things. Being clouded by sorrow and often times self pity or failure to look beyond the dark clouds limits our ability to feel and appreciate the good around. That has been my problem. However, I want to turn this around and become a much more positive person regardless of what is going on. So much of this gratitude thing will have to work hand in hand with positivity. The power of positive thinking. My grateful list for today:

1. My parents waking up 

2. Zamfest tickets  (please let the show be good)

3. The will power to say NO to being added to another WhatsApp group. 

This may not be what everyone had in mind but I am grateful for them and so much more to unravel throughout the day. That’s the thing with this gratitude attitude, you are more aware of the good as time goes by. With more practice, I will be able to add more seemingly important things to the list.

Wisdom teeth

Recently found out that my jaw could not accommodate two more teeth. “You have a compacted jaw…” Those words led me to burst into laughter. I figured it also meant that I have a small mouth which means that all those years I was told that I have a big mouth were useless because science says that I have a small mouth! Yes. I know that’s not what they meant. Just…just go with the flow on this one for me, ok? Thank you! You are not allowed to laugh.

The dental visit story. Yes, I went to the dentist for the first time in my adult life. The place I went to is actually a dental school, which means that the people attending to the patients are students. Senior students under the supervision of the doctors. Not a very helpful piece of information if you are going there the first time or have a throbbing toothache or whatever case you feel needs more experienced hands. It is unsettling to a larger extent but I went anyway.

The man at the registration counter was actually nice. It didn’t take too long but the waiting room was quite packed considering how early it was. A quick scan of the environment showed student doctors taking a peek at the patients in the waiting room, possibly counting how many each would have to attend to that morning. I also thought the guys were trying to ensure that they got the prettiest patients, saw them staring at some patients. 

The lady that sat next to me was really scared to go in. The thought of the tooth extraction procedure being done on her was shaking her to the core. I managed a big smile and some words of encouragement. Interestingly, at that point, I felt like the words were meant for myself than anyone else. It didn’t take too long before I was called in for my consultation. 

The sight of tools that were used sent cold chills down my spine. It was too late to turn back. I was moved into position and the teeth interrogation lights were also positioned. Lights, tools and action! 

The story would have been more interesting if there was breaking teeth, needles being stabbed in the jaw, ghost like screams and such but it was nothing like that, my teeth are in good shape. All I needed was a good scalling and polishing 😃

Small changes 

Today revealed something about me. It was a small thing but a milestone in my adult journey.

Being a holiday, I planned to go to the salon before it opened. It’s a really popular salon and there have been times I have had to wait for 6 hours before being worked on. Holiday rush to get hair done was probably on a lot of women’s minds. 

Called the salon to find out if they were open while walking to the bus station. I was fortunate to get a response in the affirmative because I was ready to turn back and continue with sleep sweet sleep and figure out the hair issues as the week proceeded. Bus came up in no time and off I went. 

The salon was in an old neighbourhood, a place I lived in for 13 years. Actually remembered the day we moved out. A day after my 24th birthday. Moved to Mansa a day later. Time definitely flew by.

Got to the salon and for the first time ever, I was directed to an empty seat and a hairdresser came to attend to me IMMEDIATELY! Couldn’t believe it. Waking up early was actually worth it! 

The hair was done in no time and started off. I looked like Diana Ross but that was a small issue because I was going to trim it to my liking later. Took the scenic route to the bus stop. Got there and the guys calling out for people called for a station near my home but not particularly where I was going. 

One of the call guys insisted that I take that bus because the bus I wanted was going to take forever to come through. Another came to tell me that he was ready to take me for half fare so that I could take another bus to my actual stop. It was a reasonable offer but I said no. Previously, I would have been on that bus in no time but I stood my ground. It didn’t take too long for my bus to come through and I was so happy that I didn’t have to wait forever as I feared earlier. 

Got to my stop and turns out that it’s still called the same as it was 3 years ago. Bus stop names tend to change over time around my area so it was quite interesting to know that it stayed the same. 

People stared as I walked, it was the Diana Ross effect of course. Strutted my little tush like Tyra. 

Enough digressing. However insignificant it was, I said no till I got what I wanted. Stuck to what I believed in and it got me to exactly where I wanted. I was in charge, didn’t let anyone convince me otherwise. There was a really good second option but I didn’t settle. Something to look at for the week 🙂

Bill payments

I think I come up with the most cliché titles ever! 😅 Yes, Sherlocks, this post is about paying bills 😎

My thoughts were hovering around the idea of convenience. Most adverts on tv will sell the idea of doing things within the comfort of our homes because you won’t have to deal with the hustle of annoying people, long queues, rude receptionists or cashiers. 

Actually remember listening in on a conversation about holiday shopping and how they loved services like amazon prime (had to do a little research about it later at home to appreciate their feelings towards it.) Amazon is surely doing it right because it got some major love and this major love it’s receiving translates into really big wads of cash. 

That brings me to the next thought. Cash! The concept of convenience has people paying for services and things we typically had to physically get up for and take a bus, car or just walk to the place that had what we were looking. But now it’s all paid for in the comfort of their homes or whatever space they are in. Take for instance, buying electricity units. I remember standing in snake like queues praying to get to the front before the cashier says it’s time for her lunch break or system malfunction. Well, those queues are still there but there’s a complete array of options to things getting done in the quickest and hustle free manner. There’s options like mobile banking that is accessible on almost all banking platforms, telecom companies have been big on this one and those ATM look-alike machines. I must admit it, I was a mobile banking junkie till I decided to stay away from the service and eventually forgot my pin numbers. Went back to the service centres to renew my pins a couple of times, not so convenient now, huh? 

Speaking of forgetting pins, we were low on electricity units not too long ago and couldn’t buy because of …yes, that. You got that right. I didn’t have money in the accounts that had bill payments enabled on the mobile banking platform 😸. My niece aka trusted companion, provided the teenage hormones are not raging, went with me to the ATM (another convenience) then to the electricity units place. One place was surely crowded at that time of day so we proceeded to go a tad further. The units sales shop was closed but we looked around and there it was, it stood next to the ATM machine, right at the entrance of the supermarket, the one stop transaction thingy! All I had to do was click the required service, follow the prompts, feed it money and voila! It spit out a receipt, sign of a successful transaction! The convenience gods did good on that one. 

For as long we will continue seeking convenience, people may no longer leave their homes to do anything anymore. Companies are raking in on the option of delivering whatever people request for to their doorstep for a fee. 

The next five years will be pretty interesting as talks of a cashless society already started and some countries implementing it by completely erasing the role of the cashier. You will notice that with technology advances it becomes almost inevitable to get rid of convenience. I will delve into that topic another time.

Smile

Smile tho’ your heart is aching

Smile even tho’ it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You’ll get by

If you smile
Thro’ your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shin-ing thro’ for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide ev-‘ry trace of sadness
Altho’ a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time
You must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worth-while

If you just smile

Nat King Cole’s song is one I have been thinking about today. The simplicity of the song speaks a message of hope and comfort. In the midst of man’s foolishness is this little gem of wisdom. 

It is as if a mother is cradling her little one, rocking back and forth while singing this song. This picture becomes the norm whenever the child needs comfort till a time when she is away from her mother and is facing a difficult time. The image of her mother cradling, rocking back and forth resurfacing much to her delight in the moment of grief. There, right there, she feels comfort. 

Release

Blogging is therapeutic. So I have heard anyway. Many people will encourage you to write down your thoughts as a form of release. 

Just the other day, a friend requested another friend to get him a book and a pen. I may have called him a cheapskate for doing this till he explained that it was for the sake of inspiration. He had been meaning to write more but just didn’t have the motivation to. I still think it’s an odd thought but it makes sense to him so it is what it is. 

Fast forward to today and the emotions enveloped my desire to live or do anything. Missed work, missed breakfast and missed out on life for the better half of the day. 

However, not all was lost. I read a couple of articles that emphasised writing down thoughts. The benefits of doing so pointed to release. Emotions need a release. If you’re like me, a person that doesn’t show much emotion in front of people, you will know that it is quiet difficult to keep everything in all the time. The boughs break eventually. However, it only happens when incredibly overwhelmed about something. The bottom line was clear, we all need to let off some steam regardless of who we are. 

So here I am, looking to try my hand at writing down my thoughts. If I don’t like it very much, I will say that I gave it a shot. 😄

Calm

Today I felt happiness. Today I felt like myself again. Today I felt at peace.
Rewind to a few hours earlier, my mind was busy. Running through to do lists and a couple of what ifs at the odd hour of 3 am. I had to quiet the thoughts somehow. There was an article I read about breathing, sounded bizzare in the mesh of thought, one of the thoughts highlighted that people rave about breathing. For instance, a woman in labour is encouraged to pay attention to her breathing. Still didn’t understand stand why but a flash of light, another thought just said, “try it”. 

Calmness is what I felt each time I exhaled. Inhaled and held in the breathe a couple of seconds then exhaled. Repeating this process gave me another thing, relaxation. I felt relaxed. As the body settled in this new state, I discovered that my thoughts had quietened down. I was quiet, both physically and mentally. 

The effectiveness of this gem of knowledge trickled through the day. Calmness. For the first time in a long time, I smiled to myself and realised I was happy. There was so much that may have contributed to it but there were also so many things that could have taken away from it. At that time, I was happy.