The other problem (see Part 1 if you haven’t already) with not being American is that I don’t think that I get as much free stuff as an American would (one of the differences between a developed and developing country I assume? Although after doing some reading it’s not a simple concept…). This means though that I can’t cut costs like an American can. In South Africa you have to pay for EVERYTHING that you get. To give you an idea, dear Reader:
- Paying for medical aid (which is no small sum by the way!) is a high priority because public health care is so under resourced. If you can even vaguely afford it, you have it.
- Good education needs to be paid for (and by “good” I simply mean acceptable e.g. teachers are in the classroom during school hours and each child has their own textbook). Tertiary education is horrifically expensive across the board.
- Second-hand cars are almost as expensive as new cars (I think because we see nothing wrong with something that’s second-hand??).
- It is illegal for our banks to give credit without first proving that we can afford to pay it back (if they do the banks are liable for the debt instead of the individual). Credit cards are certainly not given out like candy at Universities.
- Interest rates are MUCH higher in South Africa (at the moment 0.5% vs. 7%). This means that you pay a LOT more for any debt you have.
- In terms of social grants, the MOST you can get is R1500 a month (about 105 US$ – for pension, disability and war veterans). You can get R350 (about 25US$) a month if you have a child. (See here for more details). Unfortunately, this amount of money does not go very far. And, given that I have a roof over my head and food security, I would never qualify for any of these grants.
My main concern that comes out of the difference in free stuff is children. According to my Experts, children don’t seem to put that much extra strain on the budget. In South Africa though, they get exponentially more expensive the older they get (mainly because education gets more expensive the older they get). This is so much so that the main reason that Husband and I have not had children yet is because we cannot afford them (like sheer, blind panic when we think of the financial implications of having kids). All this makes me desperate to find a South African Early Retirement Expert to shed some light but alas the online search keeps coming up empty (apart from a guy who is very critical of the idea of reducing spending but wants me to retire by buying houses with some magical capital I somehow have)… Maybe if I stick at this long enough I can become the South African Early Retirement Expert?!?! Hahahaha…