Spend! Spend! Spend! : Now stop! (Part 2)
29th March 2009
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Spend! Spend! Spend! :Part 2

Travel. I lived in South Africa for many years, and when I first went there in the 70's petrol stations closed at lunchtime on Saturday and didn't open again until Monday morning. Consequently, people were very economical with their journeys at the weekend. During the week, we had lift-clubs, so we shared the cost of fuel and wear-and-tear on our cars. Cars in this country are cheap, especially now, but fuel isn't. Think before you get the car out is it really necessary to use the car, could you walk (healthier) or maybe you don't really need to go out at all.

Next, holidays. Yes, we all need a break now and then. But we don't need two weeks in Majorca; we don't need three holidays a year, we don t need to stay in a luxury hotel, we don t need to go abroad. This country is chock full of beautiful places to go for a holiday, and yes, self-catering in a cottage or a caravan means someone still has to do the cooking and cleaning, but if the whole family is on holiday, then the whole family can chip in and help! If you've never done it before, try a week on a canal boat. We've had four or five holidays on canal boats which I think offer one of the best family holidays going. It's like a caravan on water! There's the novelty of the boat (without the dangers of open water or the risk of sea-sickness); you're on the move, albeit very slowly, so there's plenty to look at; running the boat, opening and closing the locks, all involves the whole family, and if it rains, there's plenty of room inside to sit round the table and play games, or - last resort - watch tv.

And finally, the millions of pounds we spend every year on children. Now I'm not talking about essentials, like food and clothing, I'm talking about toys and games and CD's and DVD's and all the other "must have" junk that kids demand these days. Well here's a simple, though possibly unpalatable fact - they don't NEED these things. And here's another not so pleasant thought - if you are in debt, think back over the last few years and add up all the money you've spent on unnecessary things for your kids; the hundreds of pounds on the latest fads; the designer clothes; the brand-name trainers, etc., etc., etc. The cold hard fact of the matter is: the amount of money we've wasted - and I do mean wasted - on our children is a part of the reason we are all in this mess. If your children are old enough to demand expensive things, they are old enough to be told they can't have them. They are also old enough to be told why.

I grew up in the 60's in a relatively small town in Africa. We had dress shops, but only the very wealthy bought from them. As teenagers we all made our own clothes - we shared patterns and embellished them, each of us trying to outdo the other with our outlandish ideas; we made jewelry using anything we could find: huge dangly earrings made from table-tennis balls sprayed gold and silver; bracelets made from wooden beads painted gaudy colours. It was fun, it was creative - AND, it was inexpensive!

We have a choice: continue the way we have been, spending vast amounts of money on things we don't need, and very often don't really want; racking up huge amounts of debt; blaming the government and at the same time, expecting them to sort out the problem - we can continue this way until the entire country is bankrupt. OR, we can all do our little bit to help, by cutting back on unnecessary spending, stop wasting money and just be a bit more responsible.

Until the next time

Betty A

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