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Now that I am probably the most expensive city in the country with no stable income, I need to somehow stop spending as much I used to once upon a time. In fact lot of my gurus in life (Warren Buffet, VS, VK etc) are proponents of Frugal Living. I never understood the importance of the same before this. Now that I am jobless I will try an experiment with it. It cant really hurt more than a bank balance of Rs. 3417. No?
So first things first.
At any given point in time, I have had just one stable job. And that has been my only source of income. So whatever I make from that job, I survive on it.
I have used buxfer and a custom made excel sheet (mail me if you need the sheet) in the past to track my spends. And the categories where I spend the most are petrol, travel, flights, eating out, gadgets and gifts. Apart from petrol, I could have avoided pretty much all other expenses. When I had a steady paycheck, it did not matter much, now they would. I would work on not spending money like I used to when I was earning.
My spending policy has been, its one life and rather than saving money to help you when you are old, save experiences that you can recall when you are old.
Thanks to my attempts at tracking where money goes, I can clearly see there are few areas where I could stop spending immediately. Gifts for example. I have always given expensive gifts, even when I couldn't afford them) to friends, family and strangers. I was like the secret "secret Santa" that I even I wasn't aware of and even the recipients did not realize that they have been on the receiving end of pseudo-largesse. I dont know why was I doing it. Now I will stop it all. Family and friends would understand. If they don't, good, Id know who to avoid. Strangers wont care anyway.
I can completely avoid eating out. I can reduce it to bare minimum if nothing else. I would stop working out of coffee shops and make my desk my best friend. I would spend more time at home and thus reduce the cost of intra city travel.
I can live without buying any more gadgets. I have the best smartphone in the market and I think I dont need to change it for another year or so. I have a decent laptop that I am ideally supposed to return but I wont unless my office calls for it. And I dont really need anything else. I would want a large television and a playstation and all that but no. I would give it all to younger cousins etc and try and live a simpler life. More on it later.
Having said all this, I will not compromise on
- Cost of living. I would continue to stay at my current place, expensive by all standards and continue to maintain the same lifestyle (food etc). I dont booze so that saves a lot of money and heartburn.
- Travel. This is my biggest passion in life. I would not let travel opportunities go by. Even if they are expensive, I would take up loans if required.
- Internet. Whatever I am and whatever I am not, is because of my excessive exposure to Internet. I would not stop it. But I would change the consumption pattern. More on this later.
- Time. And finally, I will save time, rather than saving money. So if this means taking a flight to Delhi, rather than train, I would take a flight.
Baby steps to Simpler Life
I read somewhere that its better to err on the side of action. Its been a few months and I have taken it to my heart. So before I wrote about a frugal life, here are the things that I have actioned already
- One of my two phone connections is a Blackberry. It translates into a fixed bill of Rs. 399 per month. I stopped using it. Although this is not a big number, its more of a symbolic thing. I am thus no longer connected on email 24 x 7. Also this would mean that I am no longer stuck in the rut of immediate replies that push emails demand.
- No to long phone conversations that I am dearly fond of. I dont know of an alternative but maybe less talking would help me save money, energy and time that I could use on other pursuits.
- Reduce the amounts I spend on coffee shops and eating out. I would ration em out. And Even when I am forced to wait a ta coffee shop, I shall do so by ordering the cheapest thing on the menu, without any add on. I am ok with facing the wrath of social proof but I wont spend money. In last three days, I have spend some 300 bucks on coffee. If I was not jobless, I would have spent atleast 5 times than this.
- When traveling I would try and use public transport (read local trains) as much but I would not compromise too bad on this. Its expensive and I would live with it. I would thus walk a lot more and try and spend time close to home only. No more extravagant travel bills to meet random people. This also means that I handpick people that I meet and thus avoid all unhappy, depressed, sad people. I would ofcourse spend on meetings that can get me work et al. I would maintain a separate account for it. Last two days, I have walked lot more, compared to what I would have done in regular situations.
- And no more expensive gifts. Period.
- And no more gadgets, like I mentioned already. Except one. A music dock. I dont really need it (I evaluated it on this flowchart by Vishal). I WANT it. Dont know why. I am in that waiting period of ten days that Vishal recommends
On Internet and On living a simpler life.
When I say Simpler Life, I mean a life where I am completely free and I dont get emotionally attached to objects and hoard them in closets. Probably to never open them again. Us humans have that stupid tendency to attach ownership and names to stupif things like books, gadgets, objects. I have been guilty of that. I never give my books to anyone, not even to VG. Starting now, I will start parting with these lifeless objects. They would hopefully free my head of conversations about ownership et al and let me think of other things.
And on Internet, I have been the connected kinds. I have million updates all the time. From facebook, twitter, foursquare, emails from five email accounts that I have, membership to multiple groups (MDI Alumni, Mensa etc). When my phone doesnt ring, I tend to get jittery and am scared to know if the world was falling apart. I always wanted to be the first one to know about anything happening anywhere in the world. Now that I dont have a BB and I have disabled all push notifications, I select times when I login to Internet and check everything. This is keeping my mind at peace and I am not in that constant state of living multiple lives - one in present and other on the TL. Someone said on twitter, "life is what happens to you when you are refreshing your TL". Its a brilliant insight. I would live in the moment lot more. With no notifications to drag me towards them, I would have only one thing to focus on. The present.
Plus I believe if there is something that I need to know, it would permeate through my network and reach me irrespective of my use of Internet or not. So, if the world does fall apart, I would get to know about it. Sooner or later.
I would spend these four months chasing frugality like its nobody's business. I would try and write about it as well because I have realized that writing makes me structure my thoughts better, apart from helping me hone the craft. I would also continue to make changes in my lifestyle to help me get fitter, calmer and happier. Of course I want to get richer as well.
Do help me if you think I must know of something that would help me in this "project".
The keywords for next four months are freedom, frugalily, life-hacking, simplicity and action. More on these in the next post. Dont know when, but soon.
Yesterday I called up my mom and I have never been happier while talking to her. Its probably toughest to mask real feelings when we talk to our folks. My mom, despite all the distance between us, she could sense and see that I was happy. Happy as in the Pursuit of Happyness happy. And I was totally loving it. Never before I have been so relaxed and happy.
And, do pray for me. This time, for a change, I mean it.