Day 8 of 21 (for now). Today I noticed two shifts in the mindsets of the people of our country.
The first was a positive change. One fuelled by the realisation that we can survive without some of the pre-lockdown luxuries and comforts. The second was quite the opposite. As rumours start doing the rounds that there is a likely two-week extension to the lockdown, people start worrying about shrinking bank balances, lost income, lost jobs.
I always try to be the voice of reason and encouragement, so the next sentence may sound odd. Be prepared for a much longer lockdown. Sunny and upbeat as always! No?
Well it definitely was intended that way. Benjamin Franklin famously said "Failing to plan, is planning to fail.', and he must be right - he has been dead for 230 years and we still quote him. Though the quote has "revised" by many to fit their purpose, it has not strayed far from the fact. If you do no plan, you are planning to fail.
So what does that have to-do with potentially being stuck indoors for an extra two weeks? Simple. Let's assume the initial date for the end of the lockdown is what we expect. Each trip to the store means a few extra bags of chips, or some extra sweets for the little ones. Let's not worry about the house-butcher's steak at Checkers, let's go for the imported vacuum packed ones for the braai tonight.
When we anticipate the best case scenario, and that does not come to fruition, we are ill-prepared, which inevitably lands us with a frown on the forehead, and a lot of inward turmoil, in now reacting to the unexpected, worse case.
On the other hand, has we considered that an extension of two, or even four weeks, was a likelihood, our habits would change as we. We would cut luxuries from the shopping list, reduce the number of trips to the shop. Manage our phone and data usage (despite both MTN and Vodacom being such lovely chaps to reduce their tariffs).
Rationing ourselves is a reality we need to consider. And that is not a bad thing. A trend of minimalist living has been growing around the world, aimed more at reducing carbon footprints and reducing waste, however, ask any practitioner of minimalism, and they will confess that they never realised how much money they wasted.
Living on the essentials, albeit temporarily, may be a wonderful exercise for some of us, we discover what we really need, and what we could do without, and still survive (the fact that we can live without carbonated soft drinks would top many lists).
So take quick look at your finances, and look at what you will need for the next, say one month, and what you have available. The math is easy Funds Available divided by days to survive = daily food budget.
I should add a disclaimer here. I am in no way encouraging any panic buying, or holding.
Simply plan. If in two weeks, the lockdown is lifted and you have been rationing yourself, you will have a few cents spared for a nice big juicy steak (or a crunchy carrot if you are a vegetarian) to reward yourself.