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Buckle up for the thrifty trip

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Do you know that feeling when you wake up from a nightmare drenched in sweat with your heart pounding and your body covered in gooseflesh? That was me after I had been worrying about rising prices and my worries crept into my dreams, writes Lance Fredericks.

The rising fuel prices are going to have a knock-on effect, causing other items’ prices to rise. File Picture

SO, JUST to be clear, it was Valentine’s Day in February where a box of choccies, flowers and other gifts were the order of the day.

Hey … I am writing for the budget conscious, so don’t be so quick to judge.

More recently it was Mother’s Day, where mothers – hopefully – were spoiled and pampered. Mothers really must have felt special.

A friend one day made a joke about Mother’s Day though. I happen to know it was a joke, because his mother was sitting in the kitchen with us at the time and she laughed long and hard.

He said: “Of course I celebrate Mother’s Day … how else will I be able to justify neglecting my mother during the rest of the year?”

Therefore, to mothers everywhere, I hope your day was special and that, unlike my friend’s poor mother, the rest of the year is going to be somewhat precious too.

What other celebrations are looming? Oh, I see that just ahead we have Youth Day a couple of weeks away. Sigh … How do you spoil the youth? Ag, just give them data and a day free of chores and they’ll probably be fine.

A few days on from Youth Day it’s Father’s Day. And here’s where things get serious. What are we going to do for the dads out there? You know, the REAL dads, not those guys who fornicated, procreated and then absconded. I am speaking about fathers who provide for, protect and nurture their families.

I had a pretty vivid dream on Monday night. In the dream I was driving a brand new German sedan. I had just left the dealership and I was savouring the aromas of the new leather and interior fabrics and simultaneously admiring the soft lights on the instrument cluster in the cockpit. I remember thinking, “At last! I have waited a long time for this.”

Suddenly my dream turned sour. The fuel light on the dashboard illuminated and the car coughed, spluttered and jerked. “Shame on them,” I fumed at the dealers, “they couldn’t even give me a full tank of fuel!”

I pulled in at a service station and proudly asked the attendant to “fill her up with 95 unleaded, please.”

The attendant – and I swear this is exactly how the dream went – said, “just reverse a bit Meneer. The diesel pump is this side!”

I sighed. It seems that the dealers palmed off an unwanted diesel vehicle on me. But, seeing as the car was such a beauty, I asked the attendant for R500-worth of diesel, just to get me home.

After giving me a long, blank stare, the attendant tapped the fuel nozzle at the opening to my tank and a drop of diesel fell into the tank. He asked, “Gaan meneer met ’n kaart betaal, of is dit kontant?”

Do you know that feeling when you wake up from a nightmare drenched in sweat with your heart pounding and your body covered in gooseflesh? That was me on Monday night. I had, for a while, been thinking about the rising price of cooking oil, rice, wheat, electricity and of course fuel, and I think my worries crept into my dreams.

Then the following day, see if you believe this one, I received an SMS. It was a competition with a fantastic grand prize. It read: “Stand a chance to win prizes like petrol, school fees & grocery vouchers!”

“Gee,” I thought to myself, “just a few years ago a ‘grand prize’ would be a trip overseas, a car or a safari adventure … now it’s petrol, groceries and koopkrag!”

My mind went back to a time when I attended a seminar. The presenter dished up a lot of interesting, yet scary information. Personally, I thought that he needed a foil helmet on his head, because he was spewing conspiracy theories that – though alarming – just didn’t make sense to me at the time … this was in the mid-1990s. He spoke about a secret elite society whose plan it was to eliminate the middle class.

“It may happen in your time,” he warned in sober tones, “that you will just find yourself less and less capable of making ends meet. And slowly but surely more and more people are going to find themselves slipping below the poverty line.

“Once they eliminate the middle class, who are the thinkers, the dreamers, the educated,” he continued, “then there will only be two classes – the elite and the peasant – and then we will find ourselves back in the system of the middle ages where the rich control the resources and manipulate the poor.”

I never thought much about that guy until Monday night when I thought about which of my assets I would have to impignorate first. Oh, sorry, ‘impignorate’ means to pawn or mortgage something. I was just trying to sound clever so that I could identify with the educated middle class while it still exists.

Anyway, that’s a roundabout way of saying that it’s going to be a terrible Father’s Day for real dads this year. Maybe the children could poke a few holes into their dad’s belt, so that he can tighten it a few notches because we are headed for a rough ride, it seems.

And with Christmas well under 5,000 hours away at the time of me writing this, maybe we can consider something Catherine Pulsifer wrote: “Being frugal does not mean being cheap! It means being economical and avoiding waste.”

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though. After all, I once read that learning to live frugally with a contented mind is a significant yet underrated treasure to the soul.

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