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Budget blues

Oct 10 2012 07:34
*Adriaan Bester

ON SATURDAY #Tips2Save became a modern day social media experiment to fill my tummy, hedging all bids at the peak of the value represented by the lonely R20 note in my wallet.

Before you pass the hat around for a collection, you should know that I am not at the point of cashing in the coupons (yet). I should admit upfront that I was somewhat lazy to queue at the ATM on a busy Saturday afternoon to draw cash.

Also, I was eager to expand on a recent conversation I joined on Twitter about ways people find to combat rising prices on the back of a recent Fin24 article.

With particular recent personal attention to reducing fuel costs, my basic understanding of a systemic world reminds me that the stuff that fills the tank touches every part of what we may need down the tube of inflation. It fuelled my #Tips2Save conversation.

Useful as social media may be to rally a consumer boycott against, I don’t know, say a respected retail brand for perceived labour preferences, I was left stranded and somewhat hungry.

@Rubisto suggested a Gatsby which, although a great idea, just panged up the hunger bite as this delicious Cape cuisine was neither to be found at said market, nor at the price I could afford.

Condolences on the state of my budget from @777productions, and choice of outlet by @BienneHuisman also warmed my heart, but failed to fill my tummy.

And I stared at the lonely, once revered R20 note.

I remembered how, during a school trip in primary school, I paid that same amount for a pair of sunglasses.

The budget bug had already bitten by then, as my next memory was that of spending considerable time after the purchase convincing the aunty at the shop to give me a refund.

Buyer's remorse, mixed robustly with the fear of my mother questioning my purchase, drove me to victory, and the sales assistant near tears. It resulted in a neatly folded banknote back in my sweaty palms.

Back at the market, I listed my available options: one beef pie or apple strudel or slice of lemon meringue, or a glass of sangria.

Readers should carefully note the deliberate use of the word “or” between the options, instead of “and”.

Has the meaning of money, having some or having none, blended by the growing awareness that our belts must be notched tight around our expanding midriffs, driven me too far?

Whatever the answer to that question, it did not enter my mind the next day when I stared with foggy eyes at the R19.99 price tag on a bag of green-looking, smallish tomatoes at my local grocer (ironically the same one mentioned above which twisted Twitter tails recently).

I realised only then that my desire for instant gratification was obfuscated by the more sustainable option to support a locally grown small farmer who sold beautifully ripe tomatoes for a quarter of the retail price.

It is now evident that personal budgeting has entered an advanced level: thinking on my feet, in the moment, planning for tomorrow’s plate must, for the moment at least, override grand choices of seemingly obvious options.

Alternatively, market vendors must start using mobile credit card machines and save me the trouble of the dreaded ATM queue.

 - Fin24

To join Adriaan’s discoveries of stepping into tiny urban traces, find him on Twitter as @aiBester.

* Follow Fin24 on Twitter and Facebook.

petrol price  |  saving



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