By Denis Jjuuko
Every four years, almost everyone’s attention is focused on what is generally considered the world’s premier sporting event. Thirty-two national teams from around the world compete for the ultimate prize of becoming world champions or at least to show up and have that recorded in history.
Somebody posted on social media that his work colleague in Canada had said he was attending the World Cup in Qatar whether he was granted leave or not. You have also probably watched a clip where a groom realized that a soccer game coincided with his wedding and he wondered whether anyone would be interested in replacing him so he could not miss the match! That is how crazy fans take soccer and much more the grandest of them all — the FIFA World Cup.
I remember the Japan and South Korea tournament which was screened during working hours in East African time. Employers knowing how distracted their workers would be ended up installing TV screens in offices and allowed staff 90 minutes or so to catch the game. People worked to beat deadlines so they could not miss the Original Ronaldo or Michel Ballack do their thing!
But this year’s World Cup is strange. Because it is in Qatar, the tournament was shifted from the traditional western summer months of June and July to November and December when the temperatures in the hosting country are calmer.
This means that the festive season this time round has come earlier than usual for soccer fans. Yet the whole world is facing unprecedented inflation levels. A tournament at the end of the year that ushers in the Christmas period means spending for most people. Here are some ideas of how one could mitigate the lack of money that is associated with January.
Bet what you can lose
There is already a lot of talk on which national team will lift the 18-gold carat trophy. If there is something about soccer that makes it so loved all over the world, it is its unpredictability. Again in 2002, many put their money on reigning champions France who lined up the most complete squad on paper. They exited the tournament without scoring a single goal and ended up marauded by minnows like Senegal. This year, Saudi Arabia beat Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Germany, who have won the title four times were beaten by the Japanese. Football doesn’t respect reputations. Betting companies will be enticing you with all sorts of ads. Bet only what you can lose. Don’t commit suicide because of a football game, supporting a team in whose country they won’t even grant you a 10-day tourist visa!
Only carry money you intend to spend
Soccer is better watched with peers arguing, analyzing, and offering all sorts of unsolicited advice to coaches who won’t hear them. There is nothing as interesting as trolling fans of a losing team especially one that was swaggering as pre-tournament favourites. In that excitement, people tend to dispense with all forms of frugality, spending on people they don’t even know. Don’t let the excitement of your favourite player scoring a potential goal of the tournament make you buy a round of drinks for whoever is in the bar. So, if you are the excitable type, carry only money you intend to spend.
You may have to disconnect your mobile money from your bank account during this period where you have unfiltered access to all your annual savings. That way you spend only what you carried. Also, you may have to leave your credit/debit card at home so you are not attempted to spend beyond your budget.
Pay school fees for next term early
Many Ugandans cry of money in January. Because offices close early for the festive season, people who are usually paid by the end of the month all of a sudden are paid in mid-December and yet the next pay is always by the end of January. Ugandans usually joke that this is the longest month in the calendar yet like many other months, January is just 31 days. School fees is usually around the corner, making many people spend sleepless nights. One way to avoid such a scenario is to pay the school fees using the December salary before it is spent on soccer and then the festive season.
If you are serving a mortgage, pay the January installment in December. Also, pay your landlord if you are renting. That way, you don’t have to call everyone for bailouts.
Lastly, life is for living. The World Cup comes once every four years. Have fun, cheer your favourite team. Pay yourself. It has been a tough year and still is!
The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org