Heartlines Programmes manager and Values and Money facilitator, Olefile Masangane believes the upcoming festive season will be a test to see how South Africans spend their money, now that the lockdown period has been eased and South Africans are eager to go out, spend their hard-earned money and splurge on a little fun.
Recently, Heartlines ran a five-week Values and Money series on SABC vernacular radio stations and Olefile was tasked to share values-based money advice and knowledge with Motsweding FM listeners in Setswana.
He says the majority of his callers were middle-aged black men, and that the plight of these men is spending money recklessly as they compete with their peers.
“They spend on cars, clothes and expensive alcohol. I believe men spend more money on unnecessary things than women,” he says.
“We can see the unnecessary spending starting again as the lockdown eases and the festive season approaches. People are tired of being at home and the season of overdoing things has begun. Drinking and spending money on alcohol is a major problem for men, there are no limits, we binge and it’s something we’re proud of and celebrate.”
Olefile says that for many, going on holiday is not always an option, so they choose to rather spend money on booze.
“There are issues with priorities. When we host an event like a wedding or a funeral, we spend thousands on alcohol. I think people in the townships are using alcohol as a means to relax and wind down, which is not a bad thing, but it becomes problematic when we overdo it.”
Olefile believes the habit of prioritising alcohol over more important needs began during the Apartheid struggle, where beer halls were built and men would drink their salaries when they got paid and returned home empty-handed.
“In the township the South African Brewery has an efficient system of delivering alcohol to shebeens on time and their sales are much higher in the township than anywhere else.”
As the festive break approaches, Olefile says this is the time to have conversations about money.
“We all know the popular reference to the month of January as ‘Janu-worry’ because we know that during the festive season there is a lot of reckless spending and by the first of January, the money is finished and then we worry about school fees, text books and uniform for our children and how we are going to get through the month until the next pay-check.”
Olefile says the solution is reaching people through financial education to teach them an alternative lifestyle.
“We need to have conversations where we interrogate our behaviour as a society,” he says. “If we don’t do so we are fighting a losing battle.”