Thank yourself later
When I finished college (a long time ago), I was lucky to get a job right away. My friend and I started at the same company and I was lucky enough to get a ride with her dad to and from work every day. After that, I made use of public transport for a long time until I got my first car.
It was a red 1988 Honda Ballade (with the pop-up lights). This was 2006. It cost me R20 000 which was a steal I thought, accept the engine was about to go. However, I managed it for a long while, until I got stuck next to the road one time too many.
Needless to say, I only have good memories of that time.
If only all were as rosy.
At my first job we had a uniform, which saved us a ton because wearing only jeans and t-shirts up to then, our closets were threadbare, to say the least.
Like every other girl, we wanted to look cool since we have a job now and we’re working for our own money. We couldn’t afford to pay cash and of course, the local clothing stores practically handed out credit like hot cakes. All you needed was a pay slip, no matter what amount was on it.
Now we could look cool when we attended functions on the weekend, in clothes that you could wear now and pay later. After 2 washes the colour would run and your black top now looked grey. Never mind having to pay for it for another 6 months at least.
The cellphone we’ve been managing through college now looked like a brick and no-one wanted to be seen answering that phone. When you’re in the taxi and your phone would ring, you just pretended not to hear it and also looked around like everyone else!
Well, the cellular shops had a promotion running and were competing with each other trying to get your attention. Who wouldn’t go for these new sleek, small phones that you could close in your hand or slip down your bra if you were going bag-free during a night on the town, because the tsotsis were never far away!
Maybe they don’t tell you, or you choose not to hear that you are locked in for 24 months. For 2 years you have to keep paying for this sleek phone, never mind that if you saved for 6 months you could have paid for it all upfront.
But that seems just beyond all comprehension, why wait when you can have it now?
Then your bank calls offering a credit card with credit (aka other people’s money) 3 times your salary. Since it will take you years to earn 3 times more, why just not get it now because you’ve just moved into your own apartment and you need a new bed, tv, washing machine, microwave and just one couch in front of the tv for now. You’ll get the tumble dryer and dishwasher next month.
Yeah, it feels good to be a grown-up earning your own money and spending it whichever way you want. Until you realise that after all your bills are paid, there is hardly enough left to manage the rest of the month’s food and travelling. Well, there is a supermarket chain who offers credit and you can buy food on account, at 3 times the price of the low-cost supermarket.
They said that your salary would be up for review in 6 months. We are in month 5 now. You are already thinking about how you are going to spend the increase.
If all of this doesn’t make you want to throw up, you are further away then you thought. It’s time for a wake-up call. I know this person, it was me a while ago.
Thankfully, with age, some wisdom comes.
You suddenly start reflecting and realise that you’ve been living a fad all this time.
The friends you thought cared are either deeper in, and you’ll know it by the new car and clothes, or are still living with mom and dad and are therefore exempt because they have not started to take any responsibility yet.
Hopefully, there is a third friend who is working full-time and studies part-time. Who still takes the bus and doesn’t have a new outfit every weekend. That’s the friend you should hang out with.
You may be the first one who finished university in your family. Make your parents proud, not by visiting with a new car, but openly and proudly talking about your finances. Where you are, what you’ve managed to pay-off and save up to now, and where you are headed. That’s what they want to hear.
Make them proud. Make yourself proud. Some of us wake up late, in our 30s. You’ve lost a few years. The sad part is that some of us never wake up.
Don’t be that person.