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Last week I saw the most ridiculous waste of resources I have witnessed thus far.
While having the tyres on my car changed, a local fire engine rolled in. Five firemen alighted. Curious, I craned my neck to look for the emergency for which they must have been summoned.
I realised there was none when one of the firemen produced an official-looking paper and made a beeline for the manager. He was simply conducting a fire inspection; a job previously carried out by one fire official driving a bakkie.
After the inspection, the manager and I speculated on what would have happened if a real emergency, especially a fire, had arisen in the meantime – there would have been no one to handle it, seeing as half the fire department and their truck were carrying out a fire safety inspection.
There was an obvious waste in sending so many to conduct a one-man job. But the random use of the six-ton fire engine, which costs a fortune to run, showed an even worse waste of resources.
This has unfortunately become commonplace in our society.
I wonder about the thought processes in authorising such an action? The action smacks of lack of respect for fellow humans and resources. Although I don’t purport to know official rules and regulations regarding fire safety inspections, I couldn’t help wondering how it benefits the public to have five firemen and their truck out to a safety inspection.
Lack of respect is evident in people’s personal lives as well. We have become disrespectful towards our own resources; we expect more if we run out.
Let’s consider money as a resource. A clear indication of our becoming wasteful with our monetary resource is the fact that we always need more.
My son’s friends, all twentysomethings, need incomes of more than R30 000 a month to be able to make ends meet.
They are, for the most part, unmarried and not homeowners. This proves that they are wasting their resources on non-essential things. This might be the folly of youth; having money and spending it on luxuries, rather than necessities, but I remain doubtful.
It is a trend of society being uneducated, possibly thoughtless, about money as a resource. We demand to have cash made available to us rather than being stewards over the assets entrusted to us.
It is not the plight of those with less, but mostly of those with much.
High earners are often the people who never have money for charity or for those less fortunate than themselves.
We need a law to force business people to contribute to the environment and social upliftment – is it because the level of respect has fallen so low that we need laws to make people look beyond their own needs?
So let us get practical and apply some of the following:
l Respect yourself.
l Respect others and their possessions. This could lead to a lower crime rate.
l Appreciate and work sparingly with the resources entrusted to you.
l Be grateful for the resources you have, show appreciation in the way you use them, and spare some resources for emergencies.
l Always realise that there will be people less fortunate than yourself and be willing to help – not only giving to beggars at the traffic lights but by giving food, clothes, jobs and skills to deserving people.
l Become aware of your own actions and their impact on self and others. Question the attitude of your heart.
When we become wasteful with our resources, we lose the opportunity to participate in other more worthwhile pursuits, just as the firemen would have either missed an emergency or arrived late – possibly too late.
We miss opportunities. We never have the resources available because they’re expended elsewhere.
Adopting the correct attitude towards yourself and others will make a difference. Put money into a rainy-day fund.
And when the rainy day comes, it might just seem like a light drizzle rather than a storm.
l Deon Hattingh is a certified financial planner and trainer on financial literacy. For more information, visit www.makingSENSE or e-mail email@example.com