Bloom where you are transplanted. Are you ready?

This week I am working on an away client that requires daily commute. I have to get up earlier than usual and that means I am also home earlier than normal.  Tuesday afternoon I got time to do some gardening after realizing that I have not given my garden much love in the last couple of days.

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In my madness trying to revive the spinach garden, I notice some  things. There were two plants in the same container size, planted the same time and receive the same amount of attention. Both plants are exposed to the elements of nature especially with the cold mist since winter begun. But one is flourishing quite well, the one has died.

I also noticed that I have a green pepper plant that I’ve had for almost a year now but it has been the same size since I moved. When we initially move here, it was really doing well. It flowered a lot but only gave me three pepper ( if I remember correctly).

Lastly the orchid that I tried to rescue from the office. It started blooming new leaves  within 2 months when I brought it home and now I am seeing something strange. There are root like stems growing around the bottom part of the plant.

Just like the above three plants, a lot can happen in our financial lives like this.

Plants exposed to the same environmental factors but is thriving while the other is dying

  • In life we can have the same opportunity, have the same degrees, earn the same salary but have different financial standing. It is all about the decision we make, how we respond to challenges and how adequately prepare we are. While you choose to spend your money on alcohol, the other person may choose to spend their money on something useful. While you splash your bonus on a vacation,  the other person might be paying off their short term loan. It really all depends on what you want out of life.

The green pepper flourished the first few months, flowered and shed off the flowers only to give a scanty harvest.

  • Sometimes we change environments and  think we are better off in the new environment. We maybe got a new job, earn a better salary  and even start upgrading our lifestyles. Are we able to sustain this lifestyle of maybe is the adjustment too steep for our earnings level?
  • Do we take time to establish ourselves in the new environment before starting to make commitments?  Before signing that 3 year lease, did you look around for shorter lease period to allow flexibility  in case you do not like it there?

 

Finally the orchid. It started off slowly getting new leaves now it is sending off some roots like things.

  • This is what you should be doing. Baby steps. Learn to see when you are surviving in a particular environment and admit that you need help if you see you are drowning. Are you maybe over-indebted? in a lifestyle chase?  If I had not rescued that plant from the office, it would have been dead by now. So will you, if you do not seek for help.
  • The plant started adjusting slowly and it took time before it started making visible growth in its roots structure. I think it even shed some leaves the first month I got it. This is normal. Just because you sought for help does not mean your problems are going to disappear over night. It will take time and dedication for you to start seeing results.

Let’s strive to be like the orchid by learning to seek for help and blooming where were are planted, one step at a time.

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Love

Dhalondoka

 

Culture shock- Black Tax contrast

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Yesterday a friend of mine read the article I published on black tax. Since she was part of the crew that never really understood what black tax was , she revisited the first article so she can gain some background into the concept and then came back to finish the article.

She gave feedback of how this was insightful for her and how she could not believe what a difference there is when compared to their Afrikaans culture. She hails from a not so wealthy family. Her parents are relatively “low paid” salaried employees , nothing out of the ordinary but what surprised me is how things are done at home.

Unlike my family, where as an educated child I am expected to help at home, her story slightly differ  because her parents are educated and have money of their own. Despite that the followings came to my surprise:

    1. When she moved out from home, her parents gave her furniture, linens as well as some of the kitchen items. This is to just help her start a new life on her own. On the contrary, I would probably be expected not to take staffs from home since I now work and I supposedly have money of my own to purchase the items.
    2. She studied and worked part time because her parents did not have money to send her to university full time and did not want her to take a study loan because they did not need her to start her career  with a mountain of debt to repay.  This is actually a sound option but rarely have I heard  that in my community. Either parents are too poor to qualify for a loan, or they just do not think of the financial implication of study loans or simply the child does not have the financial knowledge to assist the parents in making the right decision.
    3. She worked for over 9 years without a car. Found a place close to work so that she can just walk or maybe gets lifts from friends if she need to go far. Not that she does not qualify to buy a car with the bank , she simply decided she could not afford. After her studies were done, she started saving for a car and after reaching a decent amount, her dad added a bit so she could buy her Jan-japan Nissan march. With us, if you work for that long without buying a car, people will think you are stingy. If you buy a not so good car, then they are not impressed. It’s a mental thing.
    4. If her gyser breaks in the middle of the month, her dad will probably chip in to help with the costs. I hardly even think of asking my mother money even if I know she might have. It just feels like reverse thinking.
    5. And to seal it all, when you decide to get married- the wedding costs are mainly covered by the parents. Hardly done in my community and hence why people wait to get married late. The weddings are just way too expensive and one must save in order to be able to afford.

 

I write this because I want to shed light on how things are done elsewhere differently.  In this day and age, we need to start learning from other cultures, understand how others do things and see what good we can adopt and what we need to let go. And most importantly I write to you to start thinking about the choices you make:

  • You do not have to move out day one when  start working. It’s ok to stay at home and save for somethings. ( That’s if you have a choice)
  • You do not have to study full time- I have friends that went to do police training and worked for a few years before they can  save and study. Do not force your parents into study bank loans. A degree is not even equivalent to a job these days. if you can, work and study part-time. ( probably just be prepared to earn less)
  • A car is not a must. There is no shame in using public transport. If you cannot afford it, let it be.
  • Do not be ashamed to ask your parents for help. It need not be monetary wise but even words of wisdom can help you make the right choices.
  • Be mindful of wedding costs. If you are taking out a loan to get married, you are living on “borrowed happiness”. It’s a matter of time before things change at home and that loan is all you argue about.

What are some of the norms putting you under unnecessary financial dilemmas?

Love

Dhalondoka

Black tax V2.1

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Being an African child can be a challenge on its own. You can have a budget but there is always going to be that catergory called “Other”. In that category, you must pay your untold taxes called black tax.

For a few of us that are not aware of what black tax is ( please read it here). Well this month could not get any worse. I had just come from a 1 week visit home and as expected, I had to leave food in the house and contribute here and there. Do not get me wrong I love being home and this sharing and caring attitude is what makes Africa unique.  Like they say, it takes a village to raise a child, thus if it was not for this sharing attitude some if us would have not made it out of school.

Anyhow back to the issue, this months I had to pay a few taxes:

  • My family needed firewood for the months. They did not need to explicit ask for money to buy it but seeing how my cousins at home struggle with firewood to cook dinner triggered me to buy a bakkie worth of firewood to the value of N$600
  • My niece and nephew are also home and they need to have lunch daily so I left a 10kg of  rice, 10kg of sugar and a 10kg of Maize meal. That was roughly N$ 300
  •  Yesterday my uncle called wondering if I could help him because his car is parked and he need money to repair. This I respectfully turned down because  that part of giving for the month was exhausted.
  • This morning, something in my spirit thought about my fellow orphaned cousin and I decided to bless her with cosmetics and food money. The little I had I shared N$400.
  • Just when I thought I had my fair share, aunt called, an uncle is admitted in the hospital and she would really love to go pay him a visit. The hospital is far from home and transport will cost roughly N$120. I gave N$200
  • Than   my mum ( hopefully the last request), is struggling to keep up with the pig feed since her pig gave birth to 8 piglets and she has a few other and one that is still expecting. I had to add to her feed money ( I must ask her to give me one piglet). N$ 350 gone.

This is just one month of many and although sometimes I do not give, when I have and when its within my budget, I gladly give.

But with the current economic times, I am really choosing to give where my dollar will have the most impact.  The first 2 giving were to enhance the welfare of my family and to keep my niece and nephew excited about school. Less time looking for firewood will free up their capacity to study and finding rice from school will make them excited to help around the house ( and hopefully water my plants:)).

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I refused my uncle because that is not an emergency. This is where you need to learn to not make other people’s emergencies your crises ( sorry uncle). For someone that works and makes a living from the car, he should learn to put aside money for in case the car breaks down. If he had come at the different time where my charity jar was still full (read it here), I would have helped but 2 weeks after payday, I am running low on that.

Without my contribution, my cousin could drop out of varsity and the poverty chain will just continue. Hence this is to help break the cycle of poverty at home.

And finally, my mum is in the business of selling pigs. Although hers is not a 100% business, she does sell pigs when she finds a buyer and that helps her feed the family. I am just sustaining her operation.

pigs

Total cost spent in one month: N$1850. This is a pretty good month but do the math . It will add up.

I am not  writing this because I want to expose my family nor my giving but I need you to starting giving black tax the right way. If you are stuck where to give run it past the following questions:

  1. Do you have the money? If not, say no to the request. Do not give money you do not have ( i.e do not borrow to give). This is called budgeting and sticking within your budget.
  2. Is it an emergency ? If yes theirs or yours? Could they have anticipated it ( like my uncle and the car) or its a natural cause ( my other uncle getting sick and someone needing money to go visit? ). This is now planning and having an contingency plan for a rainy day.
  3. Will it enhance value or help breaking the chain of poverty in my family?  This is   called investments.
  4. Am I cultivating the dependency snyndrome? “Cuz send me a ka$200 man?” Type of request. And this is emancipation.

And lastly remember that your giving should not always be monetary. Your presence at an occasion can also be a settlement. And you are just one, you cannot help everyone but that does not mean you must not help someone.

hope

Love

Dhalondoka

Ps. All images used in the articles are taken on my most recent vacation home.

 

If he could- He would give away his testicles

Life is like a wheel

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.

Love

Dhalondoka

 

The dress I was crocheting in a taxi

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Accepting money you do not need

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Just when I was going about minding my own business, my banker called to ask if she can have two minutes of my time. Respectfully, I agreed  because I was curious what she wanted. I have never received a call from her other than when I was applying for a home loan. Since we concluded that transaction, I felt like we did not have a connection. On occasion she did not even action request I had asked her to do. It was indeed a surprise to hear from her.

From her introduction, I could see she already wanted something from me:

What surprise me is that I never applied for a credit card ( so I am not sure what she meant that it was pre- approved) and I really did not need one. So I turned down an offer with a lie (God forgive). I mentioned something along the line of we already make use of a family credit card ( not sure if such even exist).

This reminds me of the article I wrote about credit cards. If you do not know how credit card works, (please read it here) as we covered some basics around credit cards. We have also had some feedback from our readers about the use of credit cards.

Just like me, bankers can offer you all sorts of money that you really do not need. I do not blame them, they are in the business of selling bank products.After I turned the offer of a credit card down, she offered a personal loan. Which I respectfully turned down as well.

What is my take away from this experience?

  1. Accepting money you do not need will make you get into debt you have not planned. I need to buy a fridge and a washing machine ( read it here) and if I get a credit card I might just end up spending money from the N$20 000 monthly limit.
  2. Be ware of hidden fees in bank offers. Credit cards have various benefits which if looked at impulsively may make one think its a bonus. Yes, it can be but are you ready for additional initiation as well as monthly management fee and steep interest rates?
  3. Learn to stay away from temptations. Do not take a personal loan just because someone is offering you one. Let you decide when you need the  money.

 

Be mindful of what people offer you especially when they start seeing your income levels as well as your spending pattern. They normally target people with a decent income level and low debt because that could potentially mean you are a less risky client.

 

Do you really need that money or simply just want it?

Think about it

Love

Dhalondoka

Be financially-wise this wedding season

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August is upon us and for many of us will be heading to Nothern Namibia for weddings.  Some are invited as bridesmaids & groomsmen, others as family members, maybe as friend or colleague or the latest (thanks to the Nandago’s) “by association:)” . Nonetheless, it will cost money to be at the event.

When one is invited to a wedding, there are many costs involved. Some are direct, others indirect costs. In additions, there are also opportunity costs of weddings as due to time being a constrain, we regularly have to give up something to be at the occasion.

Here is my take on the up-coming season:

  • Times are tough at the moment for you to be buying people unnecessary gifts. Remember the article I wrote about giving the right gift? If you can , ask if the bride and groom are in need of something specific before you go buy something you think they may like.  In addition, if you want to save your self the hustle  of boot space, you can send them vouchers that are not specific to an item or even just give your monetary contribution.
  • Be mindful of how you travel. It’s very rare that you will go to the wedding alone so if you know friends that are invited, car pool to the event and have a petrol budget. By car pooling, you save on petrol cost as well as being guaranteed to have a reliable form of transport to and from the various receptions.
  • Do you homework regarding the condition and the type of the road leading to the destination. Some friends really marry far deep in the rural area that are only accessible by 4X4. Ask the bride and the people that have been there and make necessary arrangements. You do not want to drive your Chev spark and get stuck, which will bring other costs such as towing costs and service fee.
  • If you find that you are not able to reach your desired destination by own car, if you car pool you can even afford to rent a 4 X4 for a few days. It will work out cheaper if you car pool and plan it with friends. This has to be agreed up in advance.
  • And most importantly, if you can avail your service to assist others in preparations. You offering to go pick up ice blocks will save your bride and groom some stress as someone whisper to them that there is no car to go pick up the ice in the next town.

In addition to the above considerations, be mindful of the opportunity cost of being at the occasion. In economics, this is define as the next best thing that you need to give up to get that which you are currently doing.

For example: When we recently went on holiday, we used the driving school car. This meant that for the time we are on holiday, we are not generating any income as there is no car to be used in the driving school. So our holiday costs is not only the money we are spending on accommodation, shopping etc., it is also what we could be making if the car was still operating.

Such factors must be considered.  If it means you have to take unpaid leave to be able to be at the wedding, but that also means next month you will struggle to live within your budget or even miss your rental payment ( because you get less money for being absent at work, maybe consider explaining your situation and instead of going to be stressed out at the event by what will happen when you get back, you could give the money that you would otherwise spent on transport and gifts as your contribution.

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What are your tips for the upcoming wedding season?

Let us engage

Love

Dhalondoka

 

 

 

 

 

Managing your bills effective

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Earlier this year I wrote an article on how one can manage their bills effectively. If you have not  read that one ( read it here).  I would like to just do a fellow up  based on my most recent experience.

I noticed that when I received my municipality bill of last month, there was a credit to my account. As a result of this credit done, municipality owed me N$37 instead of owing them my monthly fee which is roughly N$800.  I never bothered to query it and proceeded to make my normal payment.

This month, I noted the same thing, there was another credit and the N$37 has now increased to roughly N$600. I then queried because I thought maybe someone was making errors on my accounts which might have penalties later. To my surprise, I learned that there was a downward valuation done on the house and as a result, municipality has been over charging me with rates and taxes. They than back dated the lower rates and all clients affected got a rebate.

I do not know how to feel about it. I can rejoice because my monthly bill has declined, meaning I have a higher disposable income , which I might channel to my audacious goal ( read it here). Or, I can be sad that my house is actually of less value than they actually thought, meaning should I want to sell it, I might actually struggle to make a profit. Not that I really have any intention to  sell it anytime soon but just a thought.

My points being :

  1. When you receive statements, pay attention to the details. You could be overpaying because of an error someone made or you could be paying when you should not.
  2. Find ways to pay your bills effectively. If you can EFT, it is cost effective and may save you time of standing in long ques. In addition, having bills on your statement with better descriptions makes it easier to track your expenses rather than withdrawing money and later  trying to remember what you used the money for.
  3. Allow room for flexibility. Do not put all your expenses on debit orders because if Christmas time come early like this, you might be overpaying when you should not be. I know you can ask the bank to make a reduction in your debit order amount but that would probably require some paper work and time to go visit the bank.

As a result of the rebate, this month I have no municipal bill and I will probably not have next month too. So what do I do with the money I should have been paying to municipality? This is where discipline come in.

  1.  I could choose to pay either way and build a credit. This will help me have a margin of safety in dry months like January when cash is normally tight. If I choose to do this, I just need to ensure that I check on a monthly basis that my credit is loaded and that all payments are allocated correctly.
  2. I could choose to use the money on something else as the credit on my municipality account does not earn any interest. So in my case, I dumped it on my home loan.

 

Learning the simple ways to manage your money is what will make a difference. How are you handling your bills?

Love

Dhalondoka