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It's All About The Money

Posted 1/3/2016

From my Living Lightly Blog no longer updated - View with this entry with original pictures here.

Droughts and floods are effecting food production in South Africa and all over the world leading to food shortages and price hikes and the South African Rand is in the toilet. Everything is getting more expensive and prices are predicted to keep rise until well into 2017.  No matter how hard you work or what job you’re in things are going to get tight for everyone. 


I don’t make a load of money. I’m just not that person. Working for myself making upcycled creations it’s always feast or famine and much to many people’s horror, I am ok with that. I don’t fit into any of the regular type of jobs or professions. The only employment I could get in these times is a minimum wage job and even those are scarce. So I’d rather live the way I do than spend hours doing something I hate - being a slave to a 9-5 job that gives me no satisfaction and getting home exhausted and demoralized every evening only to earn a minimum salary that at the end of the day is probably less than my average earned for my creative work anyway. I don’t need a lot of things. I would rather do without if it means I am a little more free from the strangling need to make more money. I really am, I’m not just saying that to justify my choices or to sound like an airy-fairy hippy. I know it’s weird but I have spent a long time soul searching and thinking on it from every angle and I really don’t like money. The more you have the more you worry about losing it. 


We went through some hard times when I was growing up and the thing I remember from then is how easy it was to be happy. As a treat, Mom would buy a chocolate on the way home after school and we’d cut it into three pieces for me, my sister and my Mom. Happiness. No matter how hard times got my sister and I always got our pocket money. I could buy a bottle of coke. Happiness. We got home-cooked everything because it was cheaper and even though we didn’t have much money, we lived on a farm and ours was still the place all the kids came to visit and Mom would feed them all with vetkoek and mince and homemade biscuits and cakes. Happiness. 


I am so lucky to be blessed with an amazing husband who supports and encourages me every day even though I know he would really be quite happy if we had a little more money coming in every month. Tom has a day job as Curator of Exhibitions at the National English Literary Museum. He writes, which is his passion and is what he’d really like to do all day long. His comedy novel ‘Midnight’s Chicken’ is set in a book shop and is about working in retail and why you shouldn’t take up terrorism as a hobby. He loves photography, and has just signed up to do a PhD.


So it is  obvious I am not good at acquiring money but I am fabulously good at not spending it. So I aim to prove I can make money by not spending it. I know this is possible, it was something that was made clear to us when I moved from working at home to my shop/studio and our home expenses noticeably rose and our quality of life deteriorated when I was not able do all the little things at home that I had done. Working at home simply works for me, I can do so much more in a day. I like to do a blend of work and home chores and I know all the ‘work at home’ gurus, articles and Internet advice say you should separate your work from your home stuff - but that’s what works for them, not me.


The basics of my plan is to make more of our own stuff. Food, cleaning solutions, toiletries even, thereby saving on all the stuff one buys because it is easy. Homemade stuff is usually a bit more expensive to start with but it lasts a lot longer because it is of better quality and when you make it yourself you’re less inclined to waste anything. It also reduces the amount of products you have to buy - vinegar and bicarbonate of soda will pretty much take the place of window cleaner, bath cleaner, counter top cleaner, stove and oven cleaner … you get the picture. I’ll be trying out all the Internet recipes and advice on these things and let you know what works for me. In this way you won’t have to do all that for yourself. So many of the recipes are written in other countries and have to be ‘translated’ into South African measurements and products.


We have already saved some money by cancelling our satellite TV. Now don’t get me wrong - we didn’t give up TV altogether! We love our TV, a little too much maybe. Instead we have signed up for the Internet with Imaginet who offer brilliant service. They are super friendly and helpful and they are local. We have also signed up with ShowMax a streaming website. With ShowMax you pay a monthly fee of R99 and you can watch anything on their site. You pay for the data to stream the show you want to watch but you can choose how much you want to watch instead of paying R800 or more for satellite TV whether you watch it or not. And we needed the Internet at home anyway. I think this will reduce the amount of time we sit in front of the TV randomly surfing channels, wasting time, just because it’s there. That in itself will save money as it frees up time to do something more useful or more time to sit on the stoep with a glass of wine and watch the sun go down. Which is really the desired end result of all of going to work in the first place isn't it?


 I hope to find more ways to save money that can be just as easily implemented in a household run by two working people. Most of the money saving changes – like any changes we make – are mostly about changing habits. Like the way the car just takes you straight to the supermarket instead of the local little fruit and veg shop you have vowed to support as they sell all the best local produce and even have farm-fresh free range eggs! Or the bag of bread rolls you buy even though there are homemade bread rolls in the freezer. Habit. Or plonking down in front of the TV and flipping through channels only to land on something that ‘will do’ and letting it suck up hours of your life. Habit. Let’s make new ones.


I do feel that I have to at least attempt to make my own veggie garden. Again. I am a terrible, terrible gardener but I feel if I am going to talk about home sustainability I have to at least try one more time. We have a new community group on facebook group for the people of Grahamstown to share and sell their excess produce so it would be great if I could get my garden going soon. If anyone has any advice on growing vegetables please do share, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Just so you know, though, I am a terrible gardener but an amazing bottler so if you live in Grahamstown and have extra fresh fruit or veg I’d gladly make pickle, sauces or jams and trade you for your excess produce. Deal?