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Under pressure: I use my entire salary on transport and have to beg for food

How do you budget if you simply don’t earn enough to make ends meet? Picture: Rowan Patrick

How do you budget if you simply don’t earn enough to make ends meet? Picture: Rowan Patrick

Published Aug 4, 2022

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A 24-year-old Durban mother, Nolizwi works as a call centre agent and says almost all her money goes towards transport and she has none left by the end of pay-day week.

With a salary of only R4 500, she also has a 5-year-old child to support. She says she has no choice but to budget.

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Nolizwi saves R3 000 for her daily taxi commutes, R700 for her child’s transport to crèche and R500 for daycare. This means the young mother is left with only R300 for necessities such as food, toiletries, phone data and more.

She has to grovel to her struggling family members, acquaintances, and even neighbours for food.

Nolizwi says that because she is always seen travelling to and from work, residents who don't know her personally assume she is a con artist when she asks for food.

“I stay at my aunt’s garage with my son, so luckily I don’t have to pay rent. But I feel like a burden because I currently can’t afford to contribute anything towards the house,” she said.

Despite not earning enough, Nolizwi says she wants to continue with this job for a year to get enough experience. Thereafter, she says she hopes to land better-paying employment.

“The problem is that I work far away, so the transport is expensive, but it was the only job I found after almost a year. It may not be much, but I am glad that at the very least I am able to send my son to school.”

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When it comes to financial advice, especially budgeting, Nolizwi says she does not pay attention because the experts always seem to be talking to people above her pay grade.

“I think there are other South Africans living like me. I am not the target for that kind of financial advice. Many of these experts are out of touch with the reality of what we go through.

“They are just doing their jobs and I am sure that some people get the help they need from them. But I don’t need lessons on money. I just need a job with a liveable wage,” she says.

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With the last months’ fuel hikes, public transport prices have also increased which puts more pressure on workers’ pockets.

However, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe recently announced a decrease in the price of petrol for both 93 and 95 octane petrol of R1.32 per litre.

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