Diane Mandui Mirio
Award for Essays and Journalism
We hear a lot about stress related jobs and events in our lives, but there’s one particular stress that gets everyone agitated and it happens frequently in Papua New Guinea.
I call it ‘pay day stress syndrome’.
While it is every parent’s hope in PNG to see their child go well in school and proceed to tertiary institution or a paid job, there are insecurities that don’t hit the limelight.
We have many experiences we don’t talk about for fear of rejection by tribe, clan or family members.
Families are the most influential units in society. We all know the difficulties in raising a family in PNG especially when it comes to wantok requests and customary obligations.
Traditional systems evolved to assist others during times of need are abused in this modern age.
Our ancestors were taught to give without expecting anything in return but now we presume there will be ‘payback’.
People mostly expect something in return and bluntly refuse to accept apologies and explanations if there isn’t.
It is now seen as self-centeredness when you don’t give in return to people who voluntarily offered you cash or kind.
Our parents coined a nice term, wok misin [volunteering] meaning to assist people in need, or even those not in need as a sign of shared bloodline or friendship that made this gesture meaningful.
But now the value of giving with love and without reservation is eroding.
When employees from the lowest grade to top level executives receive their salaries every payday, there lurks the dread in the back of their minds that there will be a long distance call from an unknown number.
Those pay day calls usually go unanswered.
Apart from families and distant relatives calling or texting, the greatest fear is reserved for loan sharks and moneylenders, who front up at the office door on payday or loiter around to catch a glimpse of the person who owes them hundreds of kina.
Those with commercial bank loans have no option on pay day, as the banks have a nice way of recouping and those bank orders really have significance.
Oftentimes, street money lenders hold people’s credit cards to secure the loan, and this causes many issues between married couples.
So how can we resolve pay day stress syndrome?
There is no easy solution, but there are several options. I’ve listed them here:
- Avoid taking out loans (unless you have a valid reason)
- Know your income sources
- Plan your expenditure
- Set aside an emergency fund (hospital fees, medicine, customary obligations) each payday and don’t spend it
- Save consistently
- Have an alternative income source apart from your normal job
- Know your spending weaknesses (sweets, smoke, buai, beer, pokies, night clubs, new clothes every fortnight, lunch packs, wantoks)
- Budget wisely
- Plan your expenses not when you have cash on hand but before your salary hits your bank account
- Talk with your partner and children for mutual understanding
- Start saving for school fees when school resumes and not just three months away from the next school year
- Save in small amounts, so you’re not tempted to withdraw the next three days knowing you have saved a large sum in the account
- Have two bank accounts if you can (one for your normal pay transactions and the other a hait account [emergency account]
- Don’t fret if you can’t assist with big amounts towards a customary obligation. Toktok blong ol man ino inap katim skin blong yu o kilim yu [gossip won’t wound or kill you].
- Keep those receipts from shops so you know how much you spend in two weeks or a month. Knowing where your money goes will make you a wise spender and may help you reduce spending
- Identify your needs and wants and ensure you spend below your means. Don’t be a copycat but a wise ant.
We don’t always take time to watch how we spend our hard earned kina, and most times we think of today and not tomorrow.
If we fail to plan, we plan to fail – and that will perpetuate ‘pay day stress syndrome’.
We need to motivate ourselves to plan carefully what we should and shouldn’t do with our money.