Rwanda’s social scene teems with so many revellers on weekends that you might think you missed something in the last National Bank of Rwanda’s gloomy economic forecast. Perhaps, you must have wondered where big spenders get the money to party in these hard economic times.
While people work and earn according to their salary scales, lack of recreation parks and tight work schedules see them relax by spending too much on entertainment.
And our way of winding down is varied. While some drink beer in restaurants and pubs and frequent discotheques or live music shows, other people religiously view soccer on pay television in niche establishments or while away time viewing VCDs and DVDs at home.
The bottom line in these activities is spending, which can be at variance with an individual’s economic reality and financial responsibilities. Olivier, a reformed alcoholic, says funds wasted on entertainment could be invested in better ways than enrich one or two businessmen in town.
“I used to take four bottles of beer every day just ‘for the road’. This would come to about Rwf 2800 per day, Rwf 84,000 a month and Rwf 1,008,000 annually,” he says. He would spend another Rwf 300,000 to entertain friends for company.
This pattern of spending will see an individual spend more than Rwf 1,500,000 a year on entertainment. “I realised the money could have bought me a used car or a parcel of land,” he said. Olivier is out of the trap where many others wallow. Experts have suggested some tips, though not exhaustive, on cutting down expenses on entertainment:
Exercise prudence and frugality. When going out select classy joints that are competitively priced for your pocket. Many people have never accepted their financial limitations and frequent expensive social places to boost their ego.
But this comes with a great cost. If you are in the habit of giving tips to waiters and waitresses, take a pause, add up the figures and see if it is sustainable to be “gentlemanly” or “ladylike” any further in these harsh times.
Plan for your entertainment. It is wise to resist unplanned entertainment. Plan ahead to the smallest detail every time you are going out and be disciplined in spending only what you have set aside for the day.
Planning entails specifying when you will next go out, how long you will stay and how you will get back home whether by a friend’s car or a taxi. It also means putting a figure on the drinks you will take instead of leaving such a crucial area open, as many people do to the peril of all other financial obligations.
See your stars at road shows and charity events. A single ticket to live shows in exclusive joints often costs as much as Rwf 10,000 or more when there are foreign artistes. It is important to see your stars at affordable rates without breaking into a bank.
Successful spenders like Olivier, now wait for them in charity performances out of town or on stop over in their road shows. Rent and swap VCDs and DVDs with friends. This is a great way of saving money on VCDs and DVDs instead of buying every new movie and music release effectively for a single viewing.
Some neighbourhood outlets rent out these discs at a small fee. Go to pubs with a “happy hour” discount. Snoop around for establishments where there is a happy hour and drinks and food are selling at a discount. A concession of Rwf 500 on every drink can amount to an appreciable figure for all the drinks you will take with your friends over an evening.
Borrow books from libraries. If you love reading for leisure, borrowing books from libraries is far cheaper than buying every new title.