Month 1, (of the Four months of frugal life)

Remember this post?

Of course I do. So I said I would reduce my spends and do so without compromising on my lifestyle / travel / hobbies. Its been a month now since I started thinking in terms of frugal lifestyle. And here is an update.

What has changed 

  1. The credit card bill reduced by 50%. May be because I had lost my card and I was forced to use cash. But it has come down and I am happy about it.
  2. I did not buy any new garments. I have been guilty of buying truck loads of clothes that I would never wear. And especially when they are on sale, I indiscriminately buy clothes. I stopped that. Despite all the offers and everything, I did not buy anything. I used this cheat sheet by Vishal, before every purchase and it has helped me immensely. Thanks Vishal.
  3. All the long phone conversations have died. Primarily because I dont have anyone left to talk to. Neo is in Mumbai and I meet him face to face. sgMS is now too busy to talk. 

What did not change

  1. I am still travelling like mad. As I write this, I have a trip planned to Goa and SFO. In the month of September. And I bought tickets for Diwali in advance. Apart from SFO trip, I can remove it as one time expense, I am not cutting down on my travel. And I am still using planes, rather than trains or some other mode of transportation to save on money. Like I said, I would save time, not money. 
  2. I am still well fed and do things at my whims. This includes travel, meeting people, buying gifts (more on this later), working out of coffee shops and all such things. I want to believe that my productivity has increased as well. I can now write for at least one hour on the stretch. And when I write, I no longer shuffle between multiple pieces. I dont know if being frugal and becoming a better writer is connected but I spend lot more time in the zone
  3. On coffee shops, I said I would work lot more at home. But I havent been able to do this. I still spend a lot of time at Starbucks and pay for overpriced coffee but I have realized that I work better when I am at a coffee shop. In fact two of my favorite writing spots are Starbucks in R City Mall and Starbucks at the Airport. In fact I am writing a letter to Starbucks. It should be on this blog soon. 
  4. August marks birthdays of a couple of good friends. Early September is birthday of one of the most important people in my life. Normally I would have bought something expensive that would be of no use to anyone and it would have made me happy. But this time, I am not. A plain old phone call shall do. I know these guys understand. They know that I am jobless and trying to manage money better. 

What did I do different in last one month?

  • Rather than spending by cards, I used cash. Thing with cash is, you can see it depleting and you know how much is left. So when you are nearing the end, you can take corrective measures and reduce your spends. I like this bit. So as a matter of practice, I would start carrying more cash. I dont really like a heavy wallet but I will compromise on it.
  • Reduce the amount of times I eat out. Before this, I have been eating out a lot. A lot as in all three meals out. And its expensive to eat out in Mumbai. I have consciously reduced eating out. Now I try and scalp meals off friends. Dont have a lot but enough to keep me well fed. Especially, Neo, AS, NL. Thank you guys. 
  • Thanks to this thought about gaming Mumbai, I have reduced my travel bill substantially. I am still paying a fortune to travel but its has come down. I now club my meetings so that I dont waste time or money in travel. I now travel at non-rush hours and that translates into less time (and thus less money) on the road. I have started to fuel the borrowed car with CNG. Like the Pune trip a couple of days back turned out dirt cheap, for I used CNG and ate at non-fancy restaurants. I still havent gotten around to using public transport and I dont think I would ever use it. 

That's it. In tangible terms, my cost of living has come down by 30%. I wish I could make charts and post them here but I dont think they are required. This post is primarily for my consumption. Next target is, reducing 30% from where I am. 

The next month's report would be interesting because I would have spent a large part of my time out of home and expenses would rise like crazy. Id mark the US expenses as an anomaly and extrapolate expenses of time spent in India to over a month. Lets see how it turns out. 

So far, I am loving this idea of a frugal life. I know I love spending money and despite that, I love this new found power that I have over controlling my spends.

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