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How to save money or make a bit – a historic perspective

Updated on November 5, 2008

How to Save Money - Save Gas

How to save money or make a bit - a historic perspective.


During our school years in the Fifties, today's affluent society did not exist. It was the order of the day to save and cut corners. We did something's to save and others to make a penny or two.

Bus Tickets

When I first went to high school I was about 11 going on 12. I was a year or two younger than my classmates as I had "skipped" a standard.The high scool had classes from form 1 ( grade 7) to Form 5 (grade 12 or Matric) The high school was in Bezuidenhout Valley which was about 8km (or 5 miles) from Hillbrow where I lived.

This entailled a municipal bus ride to school. If one paid cash the ticket was a sixpence (6 South African pennies or 5c in the current currency) . If, however, one bought ticket coupons from the Municipal offices at a special scholar rate, they cost a "tickey" which is pennies or 2.5 cents (current currency). One book of 20 tickets for five shillings (50c current currency.).

Simple maths helped us work this one out..

After 4pm a scholar was not allowed to use a coupon unless it was officially stamped by the school. This was to prove that the scholar was engaged in legitimate school activity eg sport and thus was entitled to use the coupon.

Now my best friend and I (his name is Patrick) figured out that if we left home early enough in the morning, we could save one bus ticket for each time we walked to school.

Our respective parents would only dole out two tickets a day so that if we lost our tickets we would only lose that days value. Wise parents.

So now we each had a ticket which we could sell to other scholars. Other kids also had coupons but life being what it is, every now and so often, one would run out of tickets. The parents would give the sixpences each way for bus fare until the next book of coupons could be bought. Obviously if we could sell our tickets for four pence to one fo these kids they would have a net two cents to spend and we would have four.

Then if one did not have a stamped ticket after four pm. the cost was a ticket plus a sixpence.Normal cost a shilling (12 pennies) or 10c current currency.

So by stamping extra tickets we could sell these for a sixpence.and gain another tickey.


In another venture, we did some "market research". We noted that our schoolhad a significant Jewish contingent. They used to bring fabulous sandwiches, lox on bagels, Rye pastrami and gherkins, cottage cheese and gherkins on rye (even sometimes pumpernickel).Us ordinary folk had peanut butter sandwiches, or cheese sandwiches and ogle these wonderful treats.

As we left for school so early (to walk to school), we used to persuade our parents to give us bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast. Now bacon was pork and pork was forbidden fruit for our Jewish pals. We did a roaring trade trading (swapping) our bacon and egg sarmies for the aforementioned delights. We then sold these sandwiches to other kids at school. We used the proceeds to buy sausage rolls or Jaffles (a kind of closed toasted sandwich).from the school tuckshop. Sometimes when the trading had been particularly good we could even afford hamburgers.


I forgot to mention that another income source for us, when walking to and from school to save bus coupons, was the glass cool drink bottle (Soda bottle). Plastic did not really exist in the late fities and early sixties in South Africa,so the deposit refundable soda bottle was the order of the day. Each bottle commanded a refund of two pennies ( don't be lazy do the conversion to existing currency -ok ok 2c). So discarded bottles were collected and returned. Any retail outlet (Store) would gladly accept the bottles. On a good day we could collect 5 or 6 bottles.

Object Lesson.

Whilst the story above relates to a time long gone. The lessons learned can be applied today. Here are a few pointers:

  • Gas is much dearer than busses and feet, or bicycles are much cheaper still. So walk or cycle instead of driving to the store.
  • Make lists and only buy what is on your list.
  • Don't shop when you are hungry.
  • Don't make ad hoc trips to the store (add the missing item to your list and buy when doing your regular shop).
  • Have your own bags for the groceries to avoid the bag surcharge
  • Take a calculator to the store compare sizes and weights to value. The biggest pack is not always cheapest.
  • Look for bargains or sales.
  • Collect coupons and use them.
  • Pay cash rather than plastic. If you must use plastic pay all the outstanding payments every month.
  • Liquidate your debts and do not buy on credit. Rather save u and pay cash (normally for a substantial discount
  • Share meals at a restaurant. You normally get too much food anyway.

Another Great Hubmob production
Another Great Hubmob production

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