Money’s too tight to mention

2011-09-14 00:00

RISING living costs and stagnant salaries are an abundant source of woes for most South Africans. Which begs the question, how do people actually survive on a monthly basis? The Witness spoke to locals about what they spend their money on and how they make it to the end of the month.

Brigitte Williams from Scottsville: teacher

Monthly income: R12 500.

Days worked: 5/wk.

Cellphone: R150-R200/month.

Transport: R300-R400/month petrol.

Car insurance: R700/month.

BRIGITTE Williams teaches Grade 4 pupils at a government school. She is a governing-body teacher and is not provided with medical aid. A mother of three children aged five, 12 and 13, her biggest cost each month is groceries. She cooks the “usual” such as mince, pasta, fish, oven chips and anything to “try to feed the family healthily”. Food costs about R5 000 a month.

She has “an oldie” Mazda sedan and lives in a house in Scottsville. On her property is a garden flat which she rents out for R3 400 a month, which she said is vital to survive to the end of the month.

In the past five years life has “definitely got more pressurised” financially.

Disposable cash is most likely spent on her children, but a personal luxury item is usually a book.

She said “only buy what you need” is a useful thing to remember when making money last longer. Also buying furniture and other house-hold items at auctions is effective in saving money.

Chanel Moodley (21) from Northdale: Sales rep

Monthly income: Under R10 000.

Days worked: 5/wk, 40 hours.

Cellphone: R260/month.

Transport: R300/month.

CHANEL Moodley lives at home and has no dependents. Her biggest expense on a montly basis, bey­ond her cellphone and her car insurance, is her social life.

She goes out “very often, every weekend and sometimes in the week too”.

While her parents pay for her food and rent, she pays for everything else. Her most extravagant purchases have been a piece of jewellery costing over R1 000 and a pair of shoes over R500.

Moodley manages to enjoy a lifestyle where she need not worry about making ends meet. She acknowledges though that when she moves out things will have to change drastically.

Tina Govender (27) from Northdale: Sales rep

Monthly income: Under R10 000.

Days worked: 5/wk, 40 hours.

Cellphone: R150/month.

Transport: catches a lift with colleague.

Groceries: R1 000/month.

Rent: R1 700 + R650 utilities.

TINA Govender is a married mother of two. Her husband earns within the same bracket.

She makes sure to bulk-buy her groceries for items like sugar, rice and oil. This saves her a lot and “can last as long as four or five months”. At this stage they have not considered buying a house because “it is very difficult to keep up with the payments”.

School fees and clothes are also a considerable cost. But Govender always has money at the end of the month because of her strict adherence to budgeting.

“Stick to your budget so you can handle those unforeseen circumstances,” she said. When children get sick or something needs fixing around the house, the budgeted savings are vital. Or an extra bit of cash at the end of the month can be spent treating her children and her husband. Don’t spend more than you have, is a simple, but essential maxim by which she lives.

Penelope (26) and Thandeka Mkhize (28) from ImBali: Grocery store till cashiers

Monthly income: R2 000.

Days worked: 5/wk, 40 hours.

Cellphone: R150/month.

Transport: R480/month by taxi.

Groceries: R1 200/month.

THE two cashiers are careful when they spend their money. They live with their family of six and do not pay rent. They also do not have to bear the brunt of food costs. They do contribute where they can and buy much of the perishable items like milk and bread. “Whoever earns the most, buys” is the family motto.

On going out partying they said “not a chance”, as there is not enough money or time.

They have clothing accounts, but do not believe in lavishly spending on fashion. Buying a pair of jeans for R80 makes more sense than overpriced designer labels.

Simon Ngcobo (24) from Glenwood: taxi conductor

Monthly income: R2 000.

Days worked: 5/wk, 12-hour shifts.

Cellphone: R400/month.

Transport: R400/month by taxi.

Groceries: R1 200/month.

SIMON Ngcobo lives with his family of five and it is just he and his sister who have jobs. The two of them support the rest of the family. He is paid daily from taxi commuters’ fares.

Ngcobo’s biggest expenses are his cellphone airtime, which can cost a lot of money, taking his girlfriend out and buying clothes.

He said going out with his girlfriend can cost as much as R200 an outing, but he refuses to let her pay for any of it.

His job means he is at work for 12 hours at a time and regularly spends money on takeaways for lunch.

His most extravagant purchases are clothes and he does not flinch at paying R500 for a pair of jeans.

Kwanele Mbandlwa (21) from Sweetwaters: petrol attendant

MONTHLY INCOME: R2 800 + tips R60 to R80 in tips.

Days worked: 15/mnth, 11-hour shifts and overtime.

Cellphone: R145/month.

Transport: R288/month by taxi.

Groceries: R2 000/month.

KWANELE Mbandlwa lives with his mother, a domestic worker, and two brothers aged 11 and 23. They live in a house built by themselves and pay no rent. They are waiting for an RDP house.

Mbandlwa does not spend extravagantly. He buys clothes only when he needs, has a modest cell- phone and buys only “what can last a very long time”. His most extravagant item was his bedroom suite.

“It’s not where you are working or how much you earn, it’s how you spend your money.” He said “collaboration” with family members is necessary to succeed, especially during those times that are “worse than difficult”.

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