‘We’re not reckless’ – here’s what SA’s middle class is spending 80% of its salaries on in 5 days

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Middle income earners struggle to make their salaries last the entire month.
Middle income earners struggle to make their salaries last the entire month.
Guy Bubb

Food, fuel, cars, accommodation and black tax. That's what middle income earners are spending 80% of their salaries in five days on.

They're not being reckless, they tell Drum.

This week, FNB released statistics stating that middle income earners spend 80% of their salaries in 5 days. This group earns between R15 000 and a bit over R40 000 per month.

A few Drum readers give a breakdown of their monthly expenses, showing how they use up their salaries in a matter of days because the cost of living is very high.

'MY NET PAY IS R20 000'

Puleng Cele* who is a teacher at a TVET college says her salary does not even last a day.

"By the end of the day on payday I have no money left. Sometimes I even take sleeping tablets on pay days because it is stressful.

"I do not go shopping or live an extravagant life. I don't even have a weave. I have an afro and I sometimes do braids. I have too many problems to have hair that needs to be maintained for R500 at a time," she says with a laugh.

Her take-home is R20 000 and this is a breakdown of her expenses:

Rent

R5 000

Nanny

R1 700

Groceries

R3 000

Child’s transport

R400

School fees

R1 300

Medical aid

R2 600

Policies and insurance

R3 000

Own transport

R600

Toiletries and food

R2 400

MY NET PAY IS R13 600

Amanda Moses* who is an admin clerk is in a similar position and says she does not have children to care for because things can get too much.

"I don't even have money to go have a sitdown meal at Nando's. I don't even know how people who drink survive," she says.

Her take-home is R13 600 and she has noted that it doesn't matter which shop she does her groceries at, it's still expensive.

"Whether I go to PnP or Woolies it's the same, really. We have so many responsibilities, it would be unfair to make it sound like we are being reckless with our salaries," she says.

Here is her breakdown:

Rent

R2 300

Car instalment

R5 000

Car insurance

R1 800

Cellphone contract

R250

Clothing accounts

R1 100

Mama

R600

Sisters’ kids

R500

Funeral policies

R1 200

Food, cosmetics and electricity

R4 000

She says fuel, DSTV, hair and nails are not accounted for because she is already well over budget.

"It's not that we don't know how to spend money or we don't know the importance of saving, but there is a lot. I have a mom and elderly grandma that I have to take care of. Then my unemployed sisters' children also then have needs I have to take care of."

Amanda says she has funeral covers because should the worst happen, she would not have money readily available to bury any of her relatives.

"I would rather suffer now and pay all these monies now than have to deal with the pain of the loss and worry about money to bury them too," she says.

'MY NET PAY IS R25 000'

Busisiwe Khumalo* is a government employee and says stokvels are the only way she can afford to do anything.

She has no debt and she is a single mother of two.

"I don't have a social life so luxuries are not even in my budget. Once a year, I get to take my kids on vacation and that is through one of my stokvels. I have cut down on things like DSTV and I can account for every cent that goes out of my account."

Busisiwe drives a 2009 car because she wants to be frugal.

"Thankfully, I am comfortable in my own skin and I don't conform to societal standards. I am focused on the bigger picture and my long-term goals."

Her income is R25 000 and this is her breakdown:

Education plans

R1 000

Insurance

R700

Life policies

R200

Funeral Cover

R500

Building insurance

R500

Cellphone

R600

Internet

R600

Food

R3 000

Fuel

R2500

Stokvels

R8 200

Water and lights

R1 500

Clothing account

R200

School fees

R2 000

Kids’ transport

R2 000

Step class

R300

'MY NET PAY IS R24 000'

Unathi Green* works for a government entity and takes home R24 000 but even with her business of making curtains, things do sometimes get tough.

“There is no money for luxuries. I have not even changed my bed in years even though it makes my back sore because there are always other pressing matters that need to be attended to.

"It's not fair to judge people for spending money quickly, we are really doing with best we can,” she adds.

This is her breakdown

Bond

R6 500

Rates and taxes

R500

Levies

R1 300

Car

R3 500

Insurance

R1 200

Fuel

R2 000

Electricity

R500

Cellphone and data

R750

Laptop

R600

Funeral Cover

R800

Food

R2 000

Clothing account

R400

Gym

R400

Mom

R1 000

Credit card

R1000

*Not their real names

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