Budgeting in Zimbabwe
I was busy.
Here’s the part where you pretend to buy this excuse and I start to lie even more about why I wasn’t here for the past few weeks (coming to think of this it is quite funny how we used lie to our parents, then they pretend to believe it and we actually they bought our lies.) Anyways, this time I’m back and will be delivering articles every week (I promise).
Now let’s head over to today’s topic – Budgeting. Oh yes. That word that is abused like no other (well in fact sorry and love are the most abused, but that’s not the point anyways).
This week I will be telling you about how we Zimbabweans approach this sensitive topic.
Before we get started, let’s learn a few new shona phrases:
Katsaona – “tsaona” means accident. In the context that I will use the word katsaona, I’ll be reffering to a small bottle of cooking oil (or something along those lines. I think you will be able to deduce the meaning when you read the part where I used the word).
Ndipoo mbichana – can I have a little…?
Wadii? – this means wassup. However, when used in a conversation about money, it’s usually the person asking somebody who owes him when he will pay up.
So how do we Zimbabweans budget?
Well…Ummm…Let me think…
We don’t. Well most of us don’t, but of course there’s always that organized family that budgets every last item to be bought 5 months in the future (yes such people exist, but for now let’s pretend that they don’t). What usually happens in most families is as follows:
Step 1: The parents spend the whole day away from home so that they don’t meet those people who they owe money who would have come to their house to claim it from them (that happens during the day, obviously)
Step 2: The breadwinner’s salary finally gets deposited into his/her account.
Step 3: The first of the many people who is owed money by the family comes to the house and he or she will get a little something.
Step 4: The husband and wife argue over what to buy. One of the two eventually gives in and then;
Step 5: All the money gets spent, …and its time to look for yet another “soft loan” to sustain the needs of the family until the next payday.
Step 6: Time to spend the whole day away from home…
Why is our budgeting so bad?
Well there’s poor financial intelligence. Oh yes – people focus on buying things they want before they buy things they need i.e. they don’t start with the basic necessities. Instead they start the other way round with luxurious items being given preference because they “deserve a break.”
Then there’s that friend/relative/neighbor/workmate that ALWAYS asks for money because they ALWAYS have an emergency. At times you tend to wonder what kind of bad luck you would need to have the money problems he/she always has. Anyways you help him/her out nonetheless and always end up getting dragged into financial problems.
Beer…and even more beer. I don’t think this needs any explanation.
And of course. Poor planning. We generally tend to rush to buy cheap things without considering how long that thing is supposed to last. For example when buying cooking oil, we tend to buy the cheapest oil bottle in the shop – a 500ml bottle which has the famous name “ka tsaona” bottle. After a week or two we then ask ourselves who we can convince to extend their line of credit to us so that we buy another “ka tsaona” bottle for the family.
There are many other reasons, but these are the main ones.
What can we do ?
Well for starters, we can copy that very organized family that budgets every last item to be bought 5 months in the future. No harm in doing that.
More care could be taken when giving out loans. There is nothing more frustrating than having to call a person 5 times just to say “Wadii” (Where the hell is my money! – but no, it’s not socially acceptable to say that so we end up just saying Wadii). I’m not saying stop giving people who constantly have financial emergencies soft loans but I’m just saying that at the end of the day …. Okay I’m lying. JUST DON’T DO IT. You will be left broke and angry. Just don’t. If some one says "Ndipoo mbichana RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"
Annnd then. Here’s the most important one. Start with the basics. It sounds so cliché but there’s a reason why it IS so cliché. It is because it actually works. Start with the basics, and then see what you can do with your money after that.
Other tips include:
Keeping record of all items bought in a month (this is an operation that could be done every three months or so). This could be done to track where the money is going, so that there will be enough data to make a realistic estimate of how much needs to be spent in a month.
I would recommend a mobile application – money manager for this purpose.
Shifting to platforms which charge less money than others. A good example at the current moment is the One Money mobile money platform. There are absolutely no charges (except for the 2% tax charge) on all transactions carried out using the One Money platform. And;
Performing calculations which show the cheapest way to use money. Take a look at the transactions you carry out on a daily basis. Find out which is the cheapest way of paying e.g. comparing how much will be spend if you pay using EcoCash Vs One Money VS Your Bank. The difference may seem insignificant, but it will surely add up over time – either in your favor or not.
Learning very graceful ways of saying NO. (Take note of the word graceful. You can say NO and still be a good person).
I could say finding an alternative source of income but that’s what everybody says and its really annoying. How can one tell me to find an alternative source of income and not tell me where to get the extra money?
And that brings us to the end of our conversation. Thank you so much for reading, and I promise to be there next week.
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