How to cope with hard times
As we approach the festive season, take the necessary steps to ensure your security and safety while you are up and about. Remember, this is always a period of increased opportunity for crime. The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) has listed a few tips which we hope consumers will find useful.
1 Don't bury your head in the sand. Ignoring a problem will only make it worse. Don't ignore calls or letters from anyone you owe money. Contact them to explain why you're having problems.
2 Try to recession-proof your job by maintaining a trend of consistently good performance. Lay-offs are frequent these days, so try not to end up a statistic. If you have been doing a stellar job, it is hardly likely that your company will want to get rid of you.
3 Adopt a frugal lifestyle. Find cost-effective ways to create nutritious meals. The CAC's Eating Right When Money Tight is rife with ideas. When shopping, make a list of what you intend to buy and stick to it.
4 Demand better-quality goods and services for your money. Ignore the doomsayers. This will cause you to become ill. Promise yourself each day to identify a few things for which you can be grateful and give God thanks. Gratitude is a great antibiotic.
5 With rising food prices, it has become necessary to put even the food budget on a diet. Stretching the dollar invariably leads to one-pot meals that are easy to make and provide variety for family members.
6 The backyard garden is not going to happen if you don't start it. Cut large plastic bottles in half and plant some seeds. Put them on the patio or veranda, windowsill, in the washroom, on front steps - anywhere they can thrive.
7 Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, leave.
8 Do not drink alcohol and drive. Designate a driver who will not be drinking or use a recommended taxi.
9 Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you at all times. Be careful not to pass on too much information to persons you are meeting for the first time.
10 If you suspect someone is following you, go to the nearest populated area or police station. Honk your horn if necessary to get attention.
11 If you come home and suspect you've had a break-in, don't enter your home. Call a neighbour and the police.
12 If you get attacked, shout FIRE! or THIEF! You will get more attention.
13 Always let someone know where you are going and the expected arrival or return time. If a friend or taxi driver takes you home, ask them to wait until you're safely inside.
14 If you are at home by yourself, make sure all windows and doors are locked.
15 Do not allow service personnel into your house unless you are reasonably comfortable with their identity.
16 Don't walk in isolated places at night, and always park your car in a well-lit area.
17 Avoid situations that could put you in danger, such as accepting drinks and/or rides from strangers.
18 Keep your car doors locked and windows up when in your car.
19 If you need to use the ATM, make sure you choose a machine in a well-lit and populated location.
20 Don't carry anything unnecessary with your address and personal details on it.
21 Don't carry any more cash than you really need to, and do not display your wealth in public.
22 If someone snatches your bag, don't fight back, it's not worth getting hurt.
23 Walk to your car with keys in your hand. Look inside your car before entering.
24 Be wise. Be cautious. Do not become paranoid. Have a safe holiday.