Couch Cat: Manage the ‘little stuff’

06 December 2019
Author   Jackie Wilson Asheeke
Times are tight so I have been looking hard at what I spend. It is easy to track the big-ticket items per month like petrol, groceries, or house/car/insurance and CoW payments. But, it is the invisible ‘little’ things done on mental autopilot that can eat up money.
The first entertainment budget-cutting I did was to resurrect my favourite computer games from decades ago. They are old school and have no In-App purchasing. Best of all, they can be bought once-off at for ridiculously low amounts (US$2-4). Down with Township and World of Warcraft, up with Sim City 4 and Caesar III!
In-App purchases are done with a click of a button that automatically charges a small amount to a credit card.  These charges seem to be invisible, but they add up. One month, I unknowingly spent N$300 on Township! All that is stopped.
I buy newspapers every morning. That can cost N$10 per day. In a five day week, that is N$50 and so, N$200 per month. I never ‘see’ that cost, but it is there. I now read the copies available at the office and read the news online.
I used to buy a breakfast sandwich or a croissant each morning. I realized that these items jump my morning bill by N$50! When I did this three times per week, I paid N$600 per month. I stopped.
I now make my egg sandwich b’fast at home, which costs me about N$10 per day.
Bringing lunch from home has saved me over N$500 per month. I invested N$60 in reusable food containers, N$79 in a small cold bag and N$30 on frozen blocks.
Whatever I make for dinner the night before, I make a bit extra for my lunch the next day. We have a microwave at work, so I use it. I no longer buy croissants, I buy brötchen (N$20 vs N$2). I bring a dollop of butter/margarine or cream cheese in my cold bag to put on my bread. I also bring slices of cheese, salami or ham, tuna fish or chicken salad to eat for lunch.
I usually bake sweet things on the weekend and include a portion in my lunch bag. Baking from scratch costs about N$2-10 per cookie, brownie, a slice of cake or piece of pastry.
A baked potato and boiled egg are super cheap and are great lunch bag foods. I use leftover veggies in the fridge and stuff them in the baked potato. Adding salt, pepper and butter, I microwave the entire thing and enjoy a cheap, hot lunch.
Homemade quiche goes well for lunch or b’fast. Sometimes, I bake it on Sundays and bring a slice to work. A simple quiche costs about N$6 per slice to make.
When I looked carefully at my actions, I used to spend about N$60 per lunch. Now, I spend about N$8-N$15.
My job requires 10 hours for most workdays and 14 hours on Thursday. That means bringing all three meals for that day. I used to spend about N$100 per Thursday (N$400 per month) on food for the day. Now, I spend about N$40.
Sliced carrots and celery are cheap, crunchy lunch bag winners. Cauliflower and broccoli florets (cooked in the microwave) are GREAT. Toss them with a packet of your favourite cup-a-soup, seasoned with a bit of butter and some water - heat and eat.
One cup of plain yoghurt mixed cooked, sweetened cinnamon/nutmeg/vanilla spiced apples or over-ripe banana (add some crunchy granola) is a wonderful cheap treat.
Rahman noodles or oatmeal in individual serving packs are nice hot-water-made-meals great for the office.
I love cappuccino. To buy it at my favourite café is N$25 per cup and I used to stop every morning to enjoy one. That was N$125 per week; or N$500 per month. I now buy the instant cappuccino for N$59 per box of 10 sachets. AND, I cut down to only three cups of a cappuccino per week (I drink tea on off days) and I can prepare it at my desk.
Manage the automatic ‘little’ stuff you buy and you will find savings.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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