7 Tips For Surviving Our Shitty Economy
Here’s a newsflash: the US dollar is currently doing unspeakable sexual acts to the Egyptian pound.
If you want to understand why this is happening, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m no economist, and the only thing I know is that it’s an issue of supply and demand -which is something even a monkey can tell you.
This may come as a shock to you, but I’m not here to rant about this issue. The entire population has been ranting non stop for weeks, and it’s exhausting -even for a professional ranter such as myself.
Let’s be realistic right now. Prices are increasing everywhere, and your income is still the same. Because Egypt.
Again, I’m no economist, but this sounds like we might all be in deep shit very soon.
That being said, let’s not dwell on how fucked up everything is. Instead, let me share with you some of the lifestyle changes that have made an actual financial impact on my life.
1 – Make Your Coffee at Home
I recently heard that a cup of coffee at On the Run now costs around 30 EGP. Because fuck logic.
I’ve been making my own coffee at home for over 3 years now, and I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it is. I don’t like drinking store-bought coffee anymore.
- You can have coffee in bed
- It tastes better than store-bought coffee
- Costs a fraction of the price
Because I’m a loyal American coffee drinker, I have a basic, no-nonsense American coffee machine. But if you’re into something a little fancier, like cappuccinos and lattes, then you’ll probably pay more -either for a fancier coffee machine or some add-ons, like that awesome spinning spoon thingie that makes your milk super foamy.
But if you’re like me, then you can settle for a simple french press.
As for the coffee beans, a quick visit to Shaheen Coffee (aka بن شاهين) will do. You can buy an entire kilogram of Colombian coffee beans for 140 EGP, and those will probably last at least two months.
If you choose to do this, you will not believe how much cash you’ll be saving. A homemade cup of coffee costs around 2 or 3 EGP, compared to the 20 or 30 EGP you’d pay for it anywhere. That’s one hell of a markup.
Besides, whenever I go to Starbucks or On the Run, I run the risk of getting coffee that’s too bitter or too strong, whereas at home I finally got to experiment with what tastes best for me.
- For an absolutely epic cup of homemade coffee, buy your own coffee bean grinder so you can grind them on the spot -the scent alone will make you think some very sexual thoughts
- When you get the coffee, store it in an air-tight container to seal in freshness. I also like storing it in the freezer, even though some people advise not to
- If you’re using a french press, never ever let your water boil -it results in bitterness. I find that heating it up to almost boiling point makes it taste just right
- Experiment with different ratios of coffee and water until you reach the taste you want
- Try out different types of coffee beans! Be adventurous!
And last, but not least, enjoy yourself, you little gourmet coffee maker, you. Brag to your friends. Act like a coffee snob. You’ve fucking earned it.
Also, spend the money you saved on something you enjoy, like hiring a serial killer to eliminate all your enemies.
2 – Roll Your Own Cigarettes
Only if you’re already a smoker, obviously.
I recently became very, very pissed off about the fact that cigarette manufacturers keep raising prices, knowing full well that their idiot consumers (myself included) will just keep on buying anyway.
Yes, yes, smoking is bad for you, blah blah blah, but I’m being realistic here. If you know that you are a smoker that will keep on smoking, do yourself a favor and stop buying cigarette packs for 30 EGP.
Instead, go buy some tobacco, rolling paper and filters, and knock yourself out.
- Waaaaaay cheaper! If you smoke one pack a day, that’s almost 1,000 EGP a month. If you start rolling your own, per week you’ll be spending 60 EGP on tobacco, 5 EGP on rolling paper and 20 EGP on filters, which amounts to 340 EGP. That’s less than fucking half what you’re spending now
- Less harmful, because at least it’s pure tobacco and not the weird shit they add to cigarettes
- The taste gets some getting used to, but two days after smoking pure tobacco, you’ll find yourself disgusted by the same readymade ciggies you used to smoke
The process itself makes you smoke less cigarettes on the long term, and the rolling process in itself is surprisingly satisfying.
- Try Golden Virginia tobacco, it’s one of the best brands out there and isn’t too heavy
- Keep tobacco in an air-tight seal so it doesn’t dry out
- Buy a ciggie-roller if you can’t roll cigarettes -but at least try giving hand-rolling a shot first
- Some places sell tobacco for 45 EGP and others sell it for 60 EGP -enta w shatartak ba2a
And I’m only saying this because it would be morally wrong of me not to, but do try to quit. That actually is the best money saver.
3 – Exercise at Home
Instead of spending a ton of money on a gym membership, download some work out videos and work out at home!
And before any weight lifters get pissed off, you can also buy some dumbbells and extra equipment, or you can practice using your own body weight. Either way, you’re saving tons of money.
- No driving through traffic to get to the gym
- You can sleep more because your gym is your own room -hooray for more sleep!
- No annoying people taking gym selfies next to you
- You can buy extra equipment with the money you would have spent on the gym membership anyway
- After you’re done you get to use your own shower, and you don’t even have to pack a gym bag!
And besides, if you’re like me and you get all red and puffy when you exercise, this actually saves you from feeling self conscious around other gym-goers.
- There are a ton of workout videos available on YouTube, just to name one, I love this awesome yoga channel by a sweet Texan called Adriene
- You can also download extensive workout programs like Insanity or P90X
- There are also a ton of fitness apps that can guide you through full workout session
This tip works for me in particular because the last time I had a gym membership, I was too lazy to drive there and look around for a parking space. But with any at-home regimen, all you need is motivation!
4 – Start Cooking
Even if you’re used to coming home to your mom’s molokheyya, you should start learning how to feed yourself now.
No one at my house cooks, so for a few months I survived solely on cigarettes and junk food. Not only did I feel like a 90-year-old, but I also went flat broke super fast. At some point, I decided it wasn’t worth it.
So I started googling the simplest recipes I could find and bit by bit started preparing my own meals. Now I actually prefer eating the meals I make over junk food, and I feel a lot better.
- Knowing exactly what’s in your food
- Cooking what you want, how you want it -for example, I love super spicy food, and whenever I go somewhere and ask for something to be extra spicy, they almost never make it as spicy as I want it, because they fear I can’t handle it. But when I cook at home, I can go all out!
- Eating whatever the hell you’re in the mood for
- Trying out awesome new recipes! Mozzarella onion rings, anyone?
Maybe it’s just me, but I actually enjoy cooking. I find it really soothing and gratifying. There’s something super satisfying about looking at raw ingredients and just turning them into something delicious.
- If you work and feel too exhausted to cook, just make meals in advance -you can cook two or three dishes that can last you the whole week if you store them in the fridge properly
- If it’s too intense for you to start cooking everything from scratch, try buying some ready-to-cook frozen food as a start, so you can simply toss it in a pan for a few minutes (a ton of women make a living by selling stuff like that, like marinated chicken)
5 – Revisit How Much You Drive
Now that gas prices are through the roof, how often you drive is something worth considering.
I understand that we live in Cairo and we basically need to drive anywhere, but if you stop and think about it, there are a ton of options that can make you use your car less often, which not only will save you gas money, but will also relax you.
Because who wants to drive in this city anyway?
These are just some things to consider doing, and you can see what works for you:
- If you work far from home, start carpooling. Find one or two people who live close to you and just take turns driving to work. Alternatively, if your workplace has a transportation system, like buses that can drive you to or from work, take advantage of it!
- Take advantage of services like Uber and Careem. Don’t use them all the time (because that would cost you more), but use them if you’re going somewhere where parking will be expensive (ex. hotels, places with valet parking), or somewhere where you’ll drive around for hours looking for parking (yes, Zamalek people, I’m looking at you) -in those cases, just let your car chill where it is and save yourself the hassle.
- Categorize your errands! If you need to run an errand somewhere far, then think about what other errands in that same area you need, and just get them all done at the same time. For example, if you’re visiting a friend and that friend lives near a store that you need to go to anyway, just do both instead of procrastinating. I know this sounds extremely straightforward, but you’d be very surprised at how much some people drive around unnecessarily because they’re too lazy to run one more errand, even though it would save them a longer trip later.
6 – Track Your Spending
This is the most important piece of advise I can give you. Seriously, if you think all the above was bullshit and refuse to do any of it, then don’t, but DO THIS.
Get an app where you can document how you spend money, or at the very least type it up in a note on your phone. I first did this when I couldn’t understand where my money was disappearing, and upon doing it I realized where I spent the most money and was finally able to consciously address it.
And yes, most of my money is indeed spent on food. Because food.
Even if you don’t care about saving, tracking your expenses can help you better understand what your daily, weekly and monthly budgets are, which is always useful to know.
7 – Use Your Head
It’s really not that complicated. Don’t stress out, just handle things logically. Come to terms with the fact that you might not afford to eat sushi as often as you want. Start practicing self discipline and don’t go for impulse buys.
It’s not about being cheap -it’s about being aware.
Yes, it’s about Unagi.