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Being financially free, what a dream that would be

Money makes the world go round, so you can only imagine how when you do not have it, it feels like your entire world has come to a complete stop. Being financially comfortable is something many look for.  

Living on a budget is something many of us dream of. Being able to afford basic needs has become a dilemma that many are still trying to come to terms with. The saying “buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride” could not have been truer than it is in the South African economy. This is putting more pressure on wallets than ever. 

While there are many tips and tricks on budgeting for young people who just joined the “working class”, though there are ways to implement this advice/tips and tricks it becomes more difficult than before. Take for example when you are the only person working and there are more than four peoples lives that are dependent on that one source of income, a budget merely becomes an afterthought when needs have to be prioritized. 

For instance within the African community there are people who fall deeply within black tax (yes believe it or not, it is a thing) and for many, black tax ranges from big to small, from helping when you can, to having responsibilities that are allocated to you. 

When it’s not just black tax, the cost of living is simply just too costly. While one may say that they are financially capable, some are barely surviving the week, financially. I have had multiple conversations with many people across various races, most of which were young people who emphasized that the cost of living is simply too high. 

A friend of mine said that they just could not comprehend how the price of bread is close to R25 as this would simply mean that some people have had to find other alternatives besides bread. Many of us know that bread is a staple for many households. I decided to be a great daughter one day and take charge of grocery shopping with the famous “Oh it’s on me Mom” line, needless to say I am probably going to think twice before that famous line escapes my lips again. 

Only because the amount of money I had spent versus the amount I had originally planned to spend coupled with actual the grocery items I walked away with, let’s just say I have never walked away as confused from a grocery store as I did that day. 

Yes, I am a young adult and yes, I know that I may not have responsibilities that adults may have but at this point I believe that we are all sharing the same financial struggle. Looking at the previous generation, they were able to live comfortably on a salary of R5000, however right now R5000 barely covers grocery, nevermind transportation, electricity, water bill and other necessities. 

Another issue that causes financial woes is debt especially when you are fresh out of varsity, the first thing that should be on your mind (in my opinion) is finding a job to start your life, but for many the sad reality is that you walk out of varsity with a student loan debt that you need to pay back. So when you are employed, instead of a car or maybe even a home being your first priority and goal, paying off your student loan takes preference above anything and everything else. Now imagine when you have student loan debt and are unemployed, the thought of financial stability crumbles and throws it in the bin if you are solely dependent on yourself and have no-one else to assist you financially. 

Then there is the idea of ‘living life to the fullest’! A friend who recently started working at a call center said to me “Khanyi, living life to the fullest cost money, money that I will probably have once a year, unless I overwork myself” and to be honest I couldn’t agree more. I guess living life to the fullest is relative to each individual, but for me and my friend when we hear someone say it, all we hear is the sound of our phones notifying us that money has left our bank accounts. 

In conclusion, wanting nice things (pricey shoes) versus needing basic commodities (food on the table)  tends to be an issue of some sort. Essentially the obligation of a ‘need’ would have to be sacrificed over a ‘want’ or there would have to be an alternative income that comes in to ensure that the ‘need’ is not sacrificed. 

Do we have a lot to learn as young people? Yes we have so much to learn to reach a level of financial freedom that will fit each and every one of us.