If you have lived in Uganda for more than twenty years, there are some harsh realities that you will have encountered by now. Not so long ago, a bottle of beer was no more than a fifth of its current price, a loaf of bread was way cheaper and it had many more slices and a kilo of beef had more beef than bones; it was even cheaper. Let’s just say things have changed substantially on the economic front. Naturally, the way we live our lives has also changed. A man who used to go out and drink about half a crate of beer is now restricted to no more than three beers, all of which will most likely have been bought during happy hour. A woman who went shopping 2 or 3 times a week now probably does her shopping once a fortnight and it’s mostly just window shopping. Basically, things have spiraled out of control.
Apart from just the prices that have sky rocketed, relationships are more expensive to maintain. Every day that passes, I hear of a formerly happily married couple going their separate ways because of reasons that often have to do with financial matters. Very recently, a close friend revealed that he was finally quitting marriage not because his woman had suddenly lost the hitherto award winning shape of her posterior or that the sex was no longer as steamy but because times are really hard. The brother can barely put food on the table. From having to pay utility bills to footing his wife’s expenses both legitimate and ridiculous, my good friend has decided to put an end to the madness; he just has to take out a bank loan to finance the divorce and all be well. At some point, when he still had hope, he secretly wished that a rich man would befriend his wife and help to cover some of the bills at home because it was getting too much for him. This has not happened yet so divorce is looking the likely option for him. Recently after he and I had taken a few drinks (which, you will be relieved to learn, I paid for) we came to the conclusion that relationships ought to be much cheaper to maintain. Men usually get the short end of the stick because they have to foot most of the bills.
I therefore took it upon myself to try and figure out ways in which we as men can continue to look after our women without having to pull out the calculator every now and again to verify how much we spend with each deed. Friends, I present low budget love.
To hell with first dates!
When two people are starting to like each other and one of them suggests a date, it usually is a sign that the spending is about to begin. Traditionally, the man will be expected to foot the bill on the first date; this is of course if the woman in question is not my friend Godiva who often argues that women and men should share responsibility equally. According to this wonderful lady, a womyn (Yes; that is how she spells it, she’s a feminist) should go on a date ready and willing to foot at least half the bill. If she goes on a first date with less than enough money to foot her part of the bill (just in case the man acts up) she is probably not a real woman, she is just a young girl who is about to be violated. How I wish all women thought like this!
Anyway, usually when it comes to footing the bill, everything might go well in case there are enough funds in the guy’s pockets. There are instances however where there are uncomfortable glances thrown around, especially when the guy has realized that the bills is over and above what he has, even if he combined what’s in his wallet, left sock, back pocket and mobile money account. At such at time, the lady will very uncomfortably look towards the restaurant kitchen and start to calculate how much time she will take doing the dishes. This is around the same time the guy will look down at the floor to see how long it will take him to mop from one end of the restaurant to the other. All this because of a first date! I say, save yourself the expense of a first date. If you see someone you like, walk up to them and make your point heard. If they slap you hard on the face, tough luck! We have all been slapped every now and again; it’s not the worst thing that could happen to a man. Besides, I personally think 7 out of 10 times when a woman slaps a man because of what he has said; she is only telling him to use a different approach. The other 3 times she will slap him because she is a fetishist and slapping is her sexual fetish. Do that to her between the sheets and you have her in your grasp. So if she slaps you at your first attempt, consider it a message; try to decode it. After the first attempt, know whether to dust yourself up and try again or quit the whole thing. If she does not slap you and instead takes some time to hear you out, that right there is your first date; no bills, no dishes to wash and certainly no floor to mop. This business of going on a first date with a girl and you are met with 4 of her friends, 5 of her clan members, 3 siblings and 2 distant cousins; that should end!
The Romantic inexpensive Walk
As the man in the relationship, you are somewhat tasked with coming up with ways to spend quality time with the lady. If you leave this to her, I can guarantee you will regret. Half the suggestions she will come up with will involve spending everything you have and the other half will involve you borrowing from elsewhere. So take it upon yourself to come up with ways to spend time. One very good way to spend quality time is by taking nice romantic inexpensive walks around town. No one is going to charge you a dime to walk through the taxi park or walk along Kampala Road. Take some time and take a romantic walk down Kikubo lane or Market Street. Share some laughs as you see the street hustlers struggle to make a shilling. Gentlemen, you have to be careful here because when you take a walk in certain parts of town, there are 19,403 different things she will see and want you to buy for her. Take her that side of Old Kampala, there are fewer shops there and not so many arcades with expensive items. Alternatively, take her to the area around Namuwongo; that place has more factories than arcades so there is not much buying that will happen when your romantic walk heads in that direction. Stay as far away from Centenary Park as possible; the price of shisha just went up and the price of beer is at an all time high. Also, if your walk can head towards Wandegeya, there is no harm in passing via Lumumba Avenue. There is absolutely nothing to buy there; very safe area to take your woman for a walk. These romantic inexpensive walks are part of the way you are going to bond and fall deeper in love without having to spend a lot. You should however take a quick course in foot massage because after a romantic 4 km walk, she is definitely going to ask for ice cream. Take her mind off asking for anything by offering her a massage.
The Bank Statement Move
Whenever it’s approaching the end of the month, your bank balance is bound to have plenty of empty spaces and a few negatives in some cases. Make a trip to the bank, get the statement that shows your current balance being in negatives and randomly leave it lying around in the house. This one will work like magic. If she sees this bank statement (which she must see by all means because you are going to leave it somewhere obvious like in the kitchen) she is most likely not to ask for too many things for some time. Even if she asks for something, you will innocently say that you will do your best but deep down you know that she is aware that your bank balance is in negatives and there is not much you can do. Obviously women (being the sharper sex) have learnt that this move can be countered by asking for a man’s bank statement at the beginning of the month. Gentlemen, when she asks for the bank statement, come up with an excuse about the bank not delivering the statement. Say something like “Honey pie, Cairo Bank is going to be taken over by Barclays Bank so for 3 months they will not be giving us statements.” That ought to drive the point home. That should keep you going for at least 3 months. This strategy however works best if your wife is a former maid who has not been to school and spends the whole day at home watching Agataliko Nfufu and translated Nigerian movies. If your wife is the learned type, consider this a no-go area.
Cut expenses – stop cheating
There are four things in this world that are just so damn expensive; bribing a judge, hiring Beyonce for a private show, renting a room in a Dubai Hotel and Cheating. While you can sign a quick cheque and have the first 3 at your disposal, cheating is something that costs you a lot more than just the zeros you have in the bank. Since times are hard, you have to be keen to cut down on expenses and one of the expenses that usually stands out is the cheating expense. Having more than one woman usually means having to spend on more than one woman. On special days like birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, you are going to have to foot double bills. Apart from that, you cannot take both ladies for that other romantic walk on Ben Kiwanuka Street; there will be a brawl.
Gentlemen, if you are looking to have inexpensive love, do the honorable thing and friend zone one of the girls right away. If she asks you why you are pushing her away, use that classic line, “It’s not you baby. It’s me” of course deep down you probably want to add “…it’s not me either. It’s my wallet” but you shall not under any circumstances add that last bit or else you will have a funeral for your manhood. For purposes of keeping your ego intact, when a random juicy babe shows up while you are already dating someone, simply tell her you would buy her everything she wants but you just can’t because you love your partner so much and you want to commit to her 100%. This is going to score you points because it makes you come off as financially able and yet strangely gentleman like. Double score!
Stop making it rain
Many men have the tendency of going to a bar, flashing around money (making it rain) and hoping that they will somehow get girls to go home with them. Strangely, this usually works because like I said, times are hard and many ladies know it. If a dude shows up and wants to buy half the bar for a lady, who the hell is she to turn down such an offer when all she has in the fridge at home is the mineral water that is left over from last week’s visit by a friend? The economy will not sit around and wait for people who cannot grab business opportunities like these. Knowing this then, a man should try as much as possible to leave his ATM cards back at home, with his wife. This way, you do not get to spend excessively and in case you go broke, you have someone to blame. Those random girls who call you up and ask for airtime should be renamed in your phone as “Do not pick 5” “Leech 2” or “Parasite 4”. That way, you will know that every time you are picking up a phone call from “Parasite 6” you are bound to lose a couple of thousand shillings. Ladies are probably reading this and thinking I am creating some kind of conspiracy to keep them perpetually broke. But look here ladies; if your man spends on you and five other girls, what are the odds that you will actually get that Rav 4 you want? How about if he spends on only you? Doesn’t that give you a better chance to drop by your friend’s workplace with your very own Rav 4 bought by your very own personalized boyfriend? Think about it.
When times are hard, you have to find a way to survive. As a man, it is your responsibility to make sure that the women is well catered for at all times. Make sure that as you try to cater for her you do not end up taking loans, selling off property and doing funny odd jobs just to make ends meet. Be a man and embark on low budget love; times are hard.
I leave you with one quite to guide you through the week …
“There is only one thing to do for a man who is married to a woman who enjoys spending money, and that is to enjoy earning it” - Edgar Watson Howe
The Talkative Rocker