Those just man­ag­ing to get by

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

after com­plet­ing her daily tasks, she would let a sin­gle block of cho­co­late melt on her tongue. Then put the rest back in the drawer next to her bed, tucked away safely un­der her win­ter py­ja­mas.

Ouma didn’t be­lieve in re­ceiv­ing credit un­nec­es­sar­ily. “If you don’t have, you go with­out,” she would Though this was a want more than a need, Ouma bought it on credit. Over the next cou­ple of years she dili­gently paid it off with a cou­ple of hun­dred rand each month.

I don’t want to know how much she even­tu­ally forked out for the new fur­ni­ture. Need­less to say, she paid a lot more for it over time than it was worth.

Poverty charges in­ter­est. A tweet by singer and ac­tor Tay Zon­day sums it up per­fectly: “Be­ing poor now just leads to be­ing more poor later. Can’t pay to have your teeth cleaned? Next year pay for root canal treat­ment. Can’t pay for a new mat­tress? Next year pay for back surgery. Can’t pay to get that lump checked out? Next year pay for stage 3 can­cer.”

July is prac­ti­cally over and with it South Africa’s Na­tional Sav­ings Month. Sav­ing is a habit that many of us are yet to ac­quire and since the cost of liv­ing is grow­ing at a rapid pace, much faster than most salaries, it’s even more dif­fi­cult to stretch our earn­ings and save for the fu­ture.

This year’s theme, “Em­ployer As­sisted Sav­ings”, en­cour­ages em­ploy­ees in our coun­try to save with the help of their em­ploy­ers.

We need all the help we can get. Yet, em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees of­ten live dif­fer­ent lives and oc­cupy dif­fer­ent spa­ces.

I’m not say­ing CEOs should skip their 5am spin­ning classes to queue for a taxi or wait for a de­layed train. I’m also not say­ing that they should forgo their med­i­cal aid and spend half a day wait­ing to be helped at a pub­lic health care fa­cil­ity.

But I do think em­ploy­ers of­ten have a lack of em­pa­thy for their em­ploy­ees and, es­pe­cially when it comes to poorly paid work­ers, un­der­stand­ing of their lived ex­pe­ri­ences. How are you, the

‘Can’t pay to have your teeth cleaned? Next year pay for root canal treat­ment’

em­ployer, go­ing to en­cour­age me to save if you have no grasp and un­der­stand­ing of how I, the em­ployee, live my life and stretch my money?

Per­haps em­ploy­ers should talk about dig­ni­fied wages be­fore dish­ing out sav­ings ad­vice.

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