So, you’re broke and when you look at your budget you simply can’t see a single item that you can do without. Really? Look again. How much are you spending on transport every month? After rent and food this is probably the next biggest expenditure and it’s something that you might be able to control to a greater extent than you realise.
Option 1: Buy a Bike!
It sounds insane to suggest cycling but it really isn’t that revolutionary. When I was very young my father used to cycle to work for exercise. At the time he was the Managing Director and full owner of Candlex Limited so it wasn’t a money issue, he just felt that he needed the exercise.
My father is very anti-obesity and sees exercise as extremely vital so he didn’t care what anyone thought, he just got on with it. I respect that.
Our roads are busier now than they were in the 1990s but still, at least in Blantyre, cycling is very much a possibility in certain areas. Take a look at all the possible routes you can take to work to see if this is possible for you. If you’re scared, try it out to see if you’re overestimating the danger.
I started cycling to work myself in 2009 and I dropped 10 kg over about 4 to 6 months plus I saved a lot of money.
If there isn’t anywhere for you to shower when you get to work then your colleagues won’t be thanking you for cycling; this is not a realistic option for you. There remain two other possibilities.
Option 2: Walk
This was my mother’s preferred option. She decided she needed to get more exercise at some point and started walking to work. Her resolve unfortunately didn’t last a week. Apparently someone stopped literally every five minutes to offer her lift and after the third offer she normally gave in!
Not everyone will have this problem so if you live 30 minutes to one hour away from town on foot, ditch the car and get walking. Not only will your wallet start to feel heavier but your heart and your waistline will be heavily indebted to you too.
Option 3: Share A Car
This should be possible for almost everyone. If there are two or three people that live near you and work a short distance from where you work, why not share a car? One day you use your car, the next day you use the other. You would save a lot of money on fuel and on the upkeep of your car.
The money saved can be invested in home improvements or in anything else that you desire.
Some of you may not even have to look far to car-share. If you and your boyfriend/husband or sibling use separate cars start sharing. If you have errands to run in addition to going to work you just need to communicate with each other to ensure everything gets done.
Most budgets will allow for some savings to be made; when things are already tight you just need to look that little bit harder.
“The secret of how to live without resentment or embarrassment in a world in which I was different from everyone else was to be indifferent to that difference.” Al Capp
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.