My Money Savvy Sister

My M

Meet The Sister

If you ask at home what I’m known for, the answer you will most probably get is that I’m the hustler; the one who brings in the money. Despite this title of mine, which is a title I love, there really isn’t anything special about me. In fact, I am not the most special one at home. That title rightfully belongs to my younger sister, Mathai.

So, what makes Mathai outshine me in the family? Despite the fact that she is 2 years younger than me, Mathai has the amazing ability to maximize efficiency when it comes to working on a budget; she knows how to compile a list of grocery items to be bought that’ll last the family the whole month and still stick to the given budget. And to top it all off, she would still get change to spare.

Her Process

On a typical day when the family plans which grocery items to buy for the month, she will take the specials from 3 different supermarkets, and say to me, “So Ngaks, what’s the budget?” I will then tell her what the budget is, and she would sit down with those big papers, her notebook, and a pen. She will then begin to write down grocery items in her notebook that need to be bought and from which supermarket to buy them from. This, of course, means that the one who is going shopping needs to prepare themselves for going in-between shops with a list; a detailed-list for that matter. The list has even the tiniest details, such as the sizes of what needs to be bought as well as the prices on the side. You might be currently thinking, “Isn’t that a bit too much?” Trust me, I once shared the same concern as you.

At first, I thought she was being difficult. After she was done doing her grocery magic she would say, “Ngaks, here’s the list.” When I looked at the details on the list, I would find that it has 3 supermarkets that I would need to rotate between just to say I have bought groceries for the month. I would get tired even before leaving the house. Out of curiosity, I would often ask her if there was ever any difference between me going to just one supermarket instead of all the supermarkets written on the list. She would then say to me, “The prices are not the same. Meaning, as much as you want to save your energy, you won’t be saving your money.”

My reply to her statement would then be, “But the price difference is just R3 or R5.” She would quickly interrupt and say, “Those R3s and R5s make a huge difference.” In defeat, I would say, “Okay aus’Mathai,” and I would get going to do the shopping as per my sister’s orders.

As I go around doing shopping, I would notice that there is some change in my wallet, and that this change grows little by little as I continue to shop. Ordinarily, I would then want to get myself something nice, maybe a chocolate. Although my body and soul would want me to buy myself this treat, I am quickly reminded that the person behind me having this extra money is my sister who is at home; I know very well that she would be very upset with me if she ever found out that I bought chocolate instead of the cleaning sponge for the pots. One word: priorities.

And yeah, that’s how Mathai is. I do not know where she learnt to be so money savvy, but this ability she has is working well for our family. After all, every cent counts.

The Lessons

When I look back at all the moments where I have seen my sister apply her ability so that the family can save a bit of extra cash each month, I have learnt a very deep lesson: by saving just four R5s, I have just saved myself a whopping R20 to put in the piggy bank, or a R20 I could potentially use to top-up for electricity. I truly commend her for her special skill. Another thing I can say about this whole thing is that it is not as easy as she makes it look. I know this because I am still learning the skill myself. I don’t mind chasing after my younger sister though, as she makes me learn something new about finances daily.

The really big lesson my sister has taught me, which I believe can be learnt by both the young and the old, is: the money we think is too little to make a difference, does actually make a huge difference.

This article was written by Mangaka Letsobe.

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