Disclaimer: Please do not generalise my statements in this article. To be honest, I was tempted to title this: ‘The Real Financial Life of a Working Young Adult from a Middle-Income Family in Mauritius’ but it’s just way too long, despite being a more accurate description. Anyway, you get the idea.
Last month, I wrote a Twitter thread about the ways I’m easily saving money as a working adult in my home country, Mauritius. So I want to elaborate my points here, in a blog post. This will definitely not apply to every Mauritian young adult and I’d say that I’d mostly represent those who have had the means to study abroad and are today lucky to have a job.
What struck me the most about saving money in Mauritius was how different it was from saving money while I was working (a.k.a. doing internships) in Malaysia during my undergraduate studies. Although I love living in Malaysia, I have to admit that it’s way easier to save money in Mauritius—and not only because I get to stay with my parents!
1. Staying at my parents’ house
Well, since we’re already on this subject! At a global level, it’s often the norm for young adults to rent a room or an apartment, instead of moving back in with their parents after graduation. It’s the typical step towards independence, and it’s a step that I would actually have loved to go through. I tasted the ups and downs of living on my own and with housemates for 3 years (in 3 different types of accommodation) and I loved it.
However, in Mauritius, it’s much more common to stay with your parents until you get married. Or you just stay in a separate house but which was built by your parents and which is super close to them. Thus, most of the young adults in Mauritius save a lot on not spending on rent or utilities (unless you decide to contribute willingly; either way you most likely have a choice—a luxury!).
2. Free food!
Most of the time, staying with your parents mean free food! Free breakfast, lunch and dinner, because yes, most of us bring our own lunch to work, since it’s the norm (in contrast to the Malaysian workplace, where eating out is much more common), except when we organise lunch plans. If you are Mauritian and you are like me, you may even be living really close to your grandmother, who is the queen of cooking and prepares delicious meals in the evening.
I actually don’t eat breakfast but I love to drink a cup of coffee in the morning because I am out of the door by 6.20 a.m. and it would be hard for me to stay awake once I reach work at 8 a.m. Thankfully, we have free coffee at work! (Or tea!) This was also the case with my previous workplace, so I’d say most Mauritian employees are pretty lucky!
3. Free transport!
In general, it’s crazy that in Mauritius senior citizens and students with a valid student ID get to use public transport for FREE. But it’s even crazier to learn that companies in Mauritius reimburse their employees’ public transportation costs. Some companies would even pay for a private van to pick you up and drop you off at your house during your working days.
This may be the norm here, but I know not all countries benefit from such advantages, and I believe that, as Mauritians, we should remember not to take free services like this for granted. Travelling to and from work for free makes a huge difference, especially if you live far from your workplace (like I do). And I couldn’t be more grateful.
4. Reuse and recycle
Let’s go back to the subject of moving out of your parents’ house. While many Mauritians wouldn’t fathom such a thing, some of us do dream of having our own place. The great thing about Mauritian families is… they are most likely to help you out in such stages of your life by giving you their old stuff just so you don’t have to buy your own.
Thus, if you are in the process of moving out and you need a life hack to save money, ask to take people’s old furniture. Many family members would gladly give you their old furniture so they can buy new ones. (Consumerism is pretty high in Mauritius!) Same applies to kitchen appliances.
If you are a young adult who is planning to move out, don’t focus too much on the aesthetics of a new place; focus on the financial side of things first. Pretty things can come later once you are comfortably settled.
5. The freedom to cover emergencies immediately
If you stay at your parents’ house, get food and transport for free as a working young adult, then you are prepared for any financial emergency, as long as you don’t throw away your money into expensive parties every weekend. For instance, when your laptop or your smartphone dies! Although this last part is about spending money rather than saving it, the ability to pay for something in cash in full does save you from high-interest rates (such as if you had to pay in instalments)!
Additional tip: a rule of thumb for electronics is to buy what you can afford, buy the one which costs less than your monthly salary or which costs less than what you have in your bank account, even if you intend to put the purchase on your credit card. That way, you know you can pay the whole amount off at any time.
I didn’t write this blog post to flaunt how ‘easy’ my financial life in Mauritius is as a working young adult but to create awareness: Mauritian people, you are blessed with a society which gives you your basic needs for free while you go out there to earn a monthly salary (of course, referring back to the disclaimer at the top).
I always recall how people are shocked when I tell them the best secondary schools in Mauritius are free of charge and this made me reflect on how we always take everything for granted. After living in a foreign country for 3 years and seeing all these differences, I want to be more mindful of what I have in my life and appreciate the little things we forget are important.
Okay, frankly, I just want Mauritian people who are not below the poverty line to stop complaining about not having enough. Look around you, look at your life, and realise that you have.
What are your country’s benefits which you tend to take for granted? Comment below!
D. K. Waye.
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