Yesterday on my way home, I was crocheting in the taxi. The taxi driver started a conversation about how he has not seen anybody do that in a very long time. He shared fond memories of how his grandmother would crotchet for them socks and beanies and made a comment on how he wish if his wife could at least do that for maybe to start making a living. This sparked a whole new conversation.
He shared how tough it has been for his family after he got retrenched at a fishing company in 2017. Since then, he has become a taxi driver, which also is challenging. His car is quiet old so at times it will break and get parked for a few weeks before he can fix it. But what caught my interest is how he is regretting with what he did with the severance pay that he got on retrenchment.
He got more than a N$100 000 payout and he was really grateful for this. He spent some money and put aside N$100 000 in a savings accounts. Over a few months, as he is married, has kids and other costs he started accessing money from his savings accounts. This started off taking bits and bits to pay for living costs, make contributions to family weddings etc, eventually he ran dry. “As we speak now, the N$100 000 is finished and I have nothing to show for” he sadly shared.
Looking back to that, he thought he was going to be able to get another job within a reasonable amount of time. If he knew it will take longer than two years, maybe he could have done things differently. He could have perhaps bought two new taxis , in a good condition, which will bring him a steady monthly income. If he knew, he would have paid of any store credit card loan he had or any debt in order to take off some monthly pressure.
Whatever is done is gone, no use crying over spilled milk. All he can think of is , if he could, he will trade his position being the head of the family, ready to give it up any moment as he is clearly not managing.
This is not his story alone, this is everyone’s story. A lot of people got affected by the retrenchment being done at the fishing companies , the port as well as the mining companies but no one really stop and think. These people got payout that could be used in a productive manner but without proper financial advise, they might find themselves in a tough situation that could send them into depression. There are already talks around town, bashing some employees whose cars were re-possessed by the banks due to the fact that they cannot afford, which really proves that people are not surviving.
So what can you do if you are affected?
- If you are currently working, there are no safety nets to hold you when your job disappear hence be prepared. Look at having an emergency savings, equivalent to 3 or 4 months of your salary because on average that is how long it takes to get a new job. But really that depends on the industry you were in. Like this “fisherman”, jobs are scares as the industry can only take up so much.
- If you are currently working, try and minimize your debt level. Try and live within your means such that should you lose your income for some reasons, you will be able to manage. If not you are at risk of your property being re-possessed by the bank.
- If you are already retrenched and got a payout, consult someone for advise regarding the use of your money. Settle any commitment that you need to and maybe invest the money in a place where the capital is safe until you can be comfortable to take some risks.
- And if you are retrenched and have already spent the money, you need to think smartly. Consult others on jobs available, even below paygrade. See if you can start a small business here and there and if you can start something that only require your time or use of your hands. And remember life cannot continue the way it was. If there was DSTV at home, cut it. It’s not a necessity, it was a privilege of being rich.
In conclusion , my advise is that if you are the sole breadwinner, have honest conversations with your family. Your wife must understand she must now step in. Your kids needs to understand that they might go to school with taxi because you are selling off the car in attempt to bring bread to the table. Your friends needs to get it that they might not being seeing you at social events like they use to before due budget constrains.
You will have to make adjustments but please do not donate your testicles away. Life is like a wheel. At times we are down but if we hold onto it, we will get up with it.
The dress I was crocheting in a taxi