December 18, 2011

FIJI: By cutting back our pensions we are providing for our children

SUVA, Fiji / The Fiji Times / Front Page Features / December 18, 2011

Fat Geese and Christmas
Seona Smiles
Home-made gifts in recycled wrapping paper are the way to go this Christmas
Picture: Google

CHRISTMAS is coming and the geese are getting fat,  please put a penny in the old person's hat. If you haven't a penny, a halfpenny will do, If you haven't a halfpenny, here's some advice for you. (traditional rhyme)

December is traditionally a season of profligate spending which will put many citizens in a situation as parlous as pensioners come 2012.

So here are some suggestions for economising, general thrift and practicing poverty. Now is the time to diet, severely - an obvious one after a season of indulgence.

The trick is, what food is least expensive and most nourishing. There is a reason poor people who aren't actually in starvation zones tend to be, well, fat.

It's malnourishment brought on by eating cheap carbohydrates, as in tavioka, white bread and white rice.

It's an interesting point that when things become known for their health benefits, such as brown rice and brown bread or flour, they become more expensive even though I understand they cost less to produce because they don't have to be so processed.

I mean, if you don't have to take off the husks why doesn't it cost less.

But hey, I'm not going to quibble because an even better way of economising is to get your golf playing spouse to actually win a game.

I know of wives who complain that every week their husbands get dressed up in golfing clothes, take their golf bags and go off to the golf club, but do they ever win at golf?

This week our Head of Household come home with what I suspect was a pensioner's pity prize.

It turned out to be vouchers for a supply of FMF rice, which impressed me far more than I ever had been by the three golf balls in a packet or even the fancy ice bucket.

As a strong supporter of local market produce and being related to a vegetarian lobby, I scour the stalls for what is in season in the hope that it will be on the less expensive side.

I've done tomatoes, they were large and delicious this year but there is now a certain resistance built up to tomato on toast, tomato scrambled eggs, tomato salad with and without basil, fried tomato, tomato with baigan, with potato, with beans (another great crop this year), tomato stew and tomato with noodles although it is untrue I tried to serve tomato icecream.

That was a mistake, I thought it was tomato jam.

Anyway, we are paying more for less, so it is time to move on to what comes in next, although it all seem to be going up for Christmas.

Ah well, 'tis also the season for mangoes.

Of course there is also festive season drinking.

The lure of a good wine will need to be replaced with the good recipe for home brew, and as I say, there is always mangoes.

Another tip the economy-minded might try is to buy only eight packets of milk instead of ten.

This is because by my count, about two out of every ten packets are bad and have to be taken back to the shop and replaced.

I'm told it is probably a packaging problem and should be fixed. Sometime soon. Don't panic over Christmas gifts, go in for extreme gift recycling.

In really thrifty households, usually those with old ladies involved, you will have lots of last year's leftover wrapping paper carefully smoothed, folded, and put somewhere in the way until you go to look for it.

Persevere and encourage children to wrap up last year's rejects and give them to their siblings with cunning cards.

Remember, sellotape and superglue are the economiser's friends.

Never mind about "buy Fiji-made", the motto is "give Fiji home-made".

Your loved ones are bound to appreciate the extra thought that goes into that pair of home-made flip-flops ("so that's what we can use an old tire for!"), or perhaps we can copy what the cool environmentalists are doing this season and turn our old milk and juice cartons into wallets and clutch purses (tré trendy!)

Home-baked goods are the go and I have lots of tips for disguising cakes that dip in the middle or lurch to one side with a few paper flowers.

Live on the coast? Invite your guests to come a couple of hours early for a fun game of "catch-your-own-fish-for-Christmas-lunch".

But stand by with the cabin crackers in case (you can smear them with red or green icing to make them festive.)

Apparently children are supposed to be a source of income although it's not something I've noticed.

It has been explained to us that by cutting back our pensions we are providing for our children to also benefit from the FNPF pension fund in their turn, which is nice, although they will have to spend rather more now looking after us formerly independent old folk.

Not sure how that works, but anyway, they don't let you advertise your children on E-bay.

But keep the garage sale concept in mind - there may be a lot of things us older persons find we need to do without come 2012.

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