The hash tag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo has been trending on Twitter this past week. The new Tanzanian president, John Pombe Magufuli, has hit the ground running and made some changes, some of which have been to curb expenditure.
The result is a series of hilarious Magufuli-themed memes on Twitter. For example, Magufuli would fry eggs on a spade instead of buying a frying pan, re-use toothpaste multiple times, turn a wheel barrow into a limo for his wedding day, and so forth.
These memes should obviously be taken with a sense of humour as they are meant to be funny, but the principles coming out of both the tweets and his actions are quite useful.
At the end of the day it is really about considering alternatives before you spend money. What Magufuli has been seen to already do in his few days in office is curb wastage. We can do that with our own expenses.
There are some good alternatives that we just do not think about. Here are some “What Would Magufuli Do” options with our personal spending.
Buy your dry foods and household necessities in bulk. Unga, sugar, beans, rice, detergents, soap etc, can be bought in bulk from wholesalers. This is estimated to save anything from 10 to 30 per cent off some of your expenses.
However, because you do need to buy in bulk, you will need to have quite a bit of money at the point of purchase. Most items are sold in the large quantities. However this will save you from having to go to the supermarket for a major shopping event every month. You not only save money, you also save time from running to the supermarket to buy sundry items when they get finished.
Even if you cannot find a wholesaler, you can buy bigger quantities in your normal supermarket. Some even have wholesale options. This is also brand specific but generally the five kilogramme pack of detergent is cheaper than the one kilogramme pack
when you analyse it on a cost per kilogramme basis.
What you then also have to do is set boundaries with the usage of stuff in your house. Just because there is more sugar does not mean we take three teaspoons of sugar with tea as opposed to the usual one.
WHY WASTE FOOD?
Sometimes we not only shop inefficiently, we waste food. How much food are you throwing away per day? Don’t overcook, and if there is food left over I am sure Magufuli would carry packed lunch as opposed to squandering Sh300 per day buying food.
People in restaurants drink water or juice and leave half of it in the glass. The cost of quarter or half a glass of water being left every time someone drinks it ends up being quite expensive.
Magufuli may establish consequences for people who are wasteful (e.g. no juice for three days) or opt to use personal water bottles that can retain water for a few hours. You don’t tend to be wasteful when sipping water from a water bottle because you have it throughout the day and you can replenish as needed.
Families do not seem to eat together that much anymore. People are eating at different times, coming late from work or occupied with other gadgets such as TV, phones, social media etc.
Not only is this an important family practice (at least as often as you can) but it also saves money. When one person eats later than everybody else, they tend to make independent decisions on what they eat.
Sometimes this involves buying your favourite fast food on the way home because you just don’t feel like eating the rice and beans that you know has been cooked that day. Wasteful living.
Secondly when there are three meal cycles every evening, it means food is being heated a lot. In many cases it’s through the microwave as everybody warms their food plate at the time convenient for them.
The microwave may be convenient, but it uses up a lot of electricity. If you were to eat together, the food can be cooked or warmed just once with gas, and everybody serves then, giving you family bonding and savings at the same time.
While we are on the topic of electricity usage, we must mention the iron. Iron in bulk. Don’t heat up the iron just for one shirt then come an hour later for another shirt. When you let it cool, you use up a lot of electricity to heat it up again. And needless to say, energy saving bulbs should also be used in the house.
Since it is now officially the season, I must talk about entertainment expenses. This escalates in December because of the social events - the shopping, Christmas parties, travelling, eating out, going out, etc.
I suspect even Magufuli can get disrupted in December. That’s why I believe he would pay his essential bills and save first before the disruption comes.
Pay your rent, pay school fees, buy uniform, books, pay electricity, and put away your savings. Then you can work with what is left. Do not spend what you do not have. Do not borrow or go into a deficit because of Christmas expenses.
Do the important things. Leave everything else. You don’t have to buy everybody a gift and I’m sure you can come up with some Magufuli options on your own for that. If not, there are currently lots of examples on Twitter.