Welcome to our new series Mada Life Diaries which was created as a way to see how real people spend their money and time living in Madagascar during one week!
As we will receive many perspectives spanning from all socio-economic backgrounds, our main goal is to confront the taboo around discussing money in the Malagasy culture and normalize uncomfortable conversations about the difference in qualities of life and spending power.
We hope that by normalizing uncomfortable subjects such as money and showing all aspects of life in Madagascar that it can bring about actionable solutions to fix the divide in Madagascar.
Today: our diarist is a digital product manager on a single income of 105 million ariary salary and spends some of his money this week to fulfill his donut cravings.
Editor's Note: 1 USD is 3,752.34 Malagasy Ariary (3/14/21). Ar denotes Ariary.
Occupation: Digital Product Manager
Yearly Salary: 105 million ariary
Rent: N/A (I live with my parents)
Cell phone: 20 000 Ar
Gas : 120 000 Ar
Subscriptions (gaming, netflix…) : 91 000 Ar
Banking fees : 26 000 Ar
Savings: 2 500 000 ariary
What has been your experience living in Madagascar?
I can’t complain : I have a roof, I eat my fill and I have my family which is already so much more than a lot of people here can get. I had an education, a good job and it’s even close to where I live.
I love and enjoy a lot of things here : how easy going people can be, when they sing their heart out at karaokes - street food and how affordable it is - the Malagasy language - traveling and discovering our beautiful island…
But I can’t deny a lot of things are also going wrong here : the insecurity, the dirtiness, the administration, the corruption, the poverty all around… But most importantly, I think there really is a mindset / mentality issue at the core of so many of those problems.
The Ntaolo said “Aleo very tsikalakambola toy izay very tsikalakalampihavanana” (it's better to lose money than to lose fihavanana). Sadly, I think right now, people are doing the opposite.
How do you feel around handling money and spending in Madagascar?
I know I spend a looooooot of money on food. It’s mainly because I often treat some friends or my family. And groceries here can be so expensive as well. But I have no regrets because it’s not just the food, it’s all the things that goes with it : the good company, the laughs, the memories (but of course the food too). Since I have a food blog, I also use it as an excuse to go out.
But apart from that, until this year, I didn’t have huge expenses. I get most of my clothes from markets like Mahamasina. The funny thing is : I used to buy way more clothes and stuff like that when I was younger.
Now my general rule is investing in quality, even if it’s more expensive, because it’s gonna pay back in the long run.
Recently, I was looking at ways to invest my money. So with my Dad, we bought a piece of land and I’m building my first house. It’s my biggest purchase ever, but to be honest, I don’t think my mind has fully grasped it yet. But now, more than before, I have to consider my expenses carefully and keep in mind that house ain’t gonna build itself. I also put 30% of my monthly salary into a savings account, as a safety net or if I decide to finally start a personal project I had in mind for a while (but I always find excuses not to).
Sunday (Day one):
06:40 - Not a morning person but getting up early today for a dog hiking event. I make a ham sandwich, with butter and cheese. I also bring some chips and chocolate biscuits. Bought everything the day before, at Shoprite + fresh bread (dejeunette) from Propain 50 000 Ar
07:10 - Leaving with Kiwi., my dog, who as usual is super excited to get in the car. During the trip, he managed to move from the trunk to the backseat. His hair is now everywhere, yaaaay.
08:00 - Arrived at the meeting point. Met the other owners and their dogs (I swear some of them were bears). The hike was great but a bit tiresome. (I guess that’s the point). Kiwi got tired midway and stopped during the slopes but he enjoyed himself.
12:00 - The event is supposed to go on during the afternoon but I decide to leave early because I wanna play basketball. I eat my sandwich, share a bite with Kiwi and we’re going back home. I get gas 30 000 Ar
13:30 - I’m home, I feel tired but I really wanna play after so I take a big nap. Kiwi does the same, next to my bed.
15:10 - Made it to the field, but I have to wait for my turn. After 40 min, I can finally play, managed to win some games and I leave at 17:00
17:15 - Got home, took a shower, some snacks and went for nap number 2
18:30 - Had a huge KFC craving so I asked my cousins and my sister if they were interested. Naturally, they were.
20:00 - Fat chicken, zinger and fries. No regrets. 50 000 Ar
21:00 - Back home, watched some animé (Sunday is Attack On Titan day) and went to bed early (22:30) because the day was pretty exhausting.
Daily total : 130 000 Ar
07:30 - Surprised again by how early I wake up. I scroll through instagram, facebook and my food blog.
09:00 - Getting ready for work. No breakfast since I started an intermittent fasting in 2019. I thought it would be impossible but it’s not that bad really.
09:30 - Leaving on foot, I have time.
11:00 - It’s International Women’ Day so I bought ice cream as a token of gratitude and appreciation. And not because some of them said (half jokingly) “you should get us something today”. 38 000 Ar
12:00 - Had the usual Hangout meeting with the french management team : to check how last week went and what was planned for this week. Took longer than usual though.
13:45 - Lunch break ! We are lucky to have Lili at work, who cooks our lunches everyday. Monday is usually my “No meat day” so I get eggs, rice and broth. Then I spend 30 min, on YouTube : GMM “Will it Deep Dish Pizza” (great episode) and NBA top plays.
14:30 - I take my 15 min power nap.
19:10 - Mum picked me up today. (I used to go home on foot but, since last year, Dad got worried for my safety so he decided someone had to pick me up everyday) I was about to enjoy some crushed peanuts and vary soasoa for dinner but, plot twist : there were some beans and pork leftovers so goodbye “No meat day”, see you next week. I ate the peanuts for dessert.
21:50 - Spent the rest of the evening writing, listening to Spotify (new songs of the day : Feeling Free - Two Another ; Mango - Adeline ft Masego). Took a shower, brushed my teeth, went to bed to watch silly stuff on the internet.
Daily total : 38 000 Ar
09:14 - Half awake since 07:30 today, weird. Since Lili took a day off, I’m gonna make another sandwich for lunch, with leftovers from sunday. Getting a glass of water and the usual routine before going to work. Bread (Propain) 2700 Ar
09:45 - Making that sandwich took longer than expected. (Damn you boiled eggs peeling) I decided to take the bus 300 ar
09:55 - So glad I took the bus : I met Max, a friend I haven’t seen for a while. We decided to plan a karaoke night for this week.
14:21 - Wanted to order some donuts but I was too late :( I went to the local bakery (Mika) to get a mille feuilles, it’s my go-to 2500 ar
19:30 - Had dinner at home. Power has been out since 17:00. I appreciate these moments because it’s always a good time to talk and enjoy family time. Until, eventually, the power will be back on and everyone will go back to their screens.
21:02 - The power is back. Bye family, I’ll miss you
Daily total : 5500 Ar
09:25 - Went to the doctor for a quick follow up on a finger that got hurt playing ball. It got better and shouldn’t need surgery. I’ll keep on taking my pills and we’ll see in 5 days. He’s a nice dude so he didn’t make me pay this time. Bought medecine 7900 ar
14:04 - Just had sausages with “anana”, boi that was yummy. Scrolled through my feed and saw Douceur de Caro’s donuts. Their pictures always get me so I ordered a box. It will be a perfect snack / dessert 24 000 ar
19:13 - Picked money to pay in advance for the this week workers and materials for the house construction 1 000 000 ariary
20:20 - Playing DoTA 2 online with Richard, one of my best friends. We’re 9000 km apart and it’s always great when we get to play together. Doesn’t happen often though , because we tend to stay super late and also because he’s married.
Daily total : 1 031 900 Ar
00:43 - Time to sleep, pretty reasonable to be honest
09:36 - I gained 1.5 kg. Not really surprised I’ve been way too careless lately. (Hello donuts). Gonna try to be more reasonable...
10:12 - Didn’t leave in time so I had to take the bus. And they were full this morning so I had to wait a bit. And I forgot my headphones. 300 ar
12:36 - Ordered dog food for Kiwi. Not satisfied with Dibaq, the brand we are actually using, because he didn’t gain much weight and even looks skinny. Gonna try Gosbi, a new brand people are talking about. We’ll see how it goes. 260 000 Ar (bag of 12kg)
19:00 - I felt like there was so much work today. Glad the week-end is almost here. At first, I planned to go to Davis’s (from Mika & Davis) concert but I’ll just go home. I went easy on the rice and ate all the cucumbers with one sausage. Reasonable.
Daily total : 260 300 Ar
17:00 - Ok I said I would be reasonable but we ordered some eclairs from Tiramichoue with my coworkers. It was planned since the beginning of the week sooo, no choice really 6800 ar
17:10 - Ha I didn’t expect a lot but those were some good eclairs. Great chocolate sauce, they weren’t small (the announced length was 10 cm) and the choux was fluffy. I’ll have to order a second time to make sure
17:30 - Unfollowed “Douceurs de Caro” for 30 days because it’s too much temptation
19:08 - Going to Irish Pub with some friends and Max. Decided at the last moment but these are often the most fun
21:42 - Had a good time and everyone shared good vibes, even if they didn’t know each other. Made the mistake of taking a big bite from a chill pepper. I literally cried. We ended up playing « who’s most likely to » and the loser had to eat some pepper too. Fun night, going home. Ordered pizza, burger (great one btw), and beer (paid for Max) 61 000 ar
Daily total : 67 800 Ar
06:38 - Tree Planting day ! Haven’t fully recovered from yesterday but can’t sleep anymore. No sandwich today. Had someone buy chicken and sausages because there is shared bbq for lunch 12000 ar
07:30 - Bringing my niece Anya today. She is super motivated
09:12 - Bought an almond croissant, beer and snacks from Leader Price. Exceptionally i’m taking breakfast. 15500 ar
11:45 - Planted 3 Acacias, it was tough because the holes were too deep so we had to put earth back in. Compared to last time, (where it took 15 min) the « planting » part actually took some work.
13:44 - So full, that was a good bbq. Managed to avoid rice, pasta and went for cucumbers and salad.
15:13 - Had a great time and some good talks. Someone invited me to a hike and beer for next week. Seems fun and they even have a facebook page! I wonder where that was all my life. Ayna had fun too, even if we didn’t get to play
board games. She said “I’m not tired” but slept in the car on the way back. Gas 30 000 ar
18:03 - Was supposed to go eat maskitas but I’m too full so I cancelled. Went dog walking instead with Kiwi and Mac. Always funny how people make way for Kiwi but they don’t know he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
19:41 - Only ate cucumbers and pineapples and called it a night. Excited for basketball tomorrow morning, got a lot of calories to spend.
Daily total : 57 500 Ar
Breakdown of what was spent:
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