Each individual is used to a certain lifestyle. It has been more than two months since we, or rather the world, went into lockdown. Confined to home, some may have lost their jobs, or working hours may have been reduced which implies wage cuts. It can be harrowing, especially when you have responsibilities like EMIs, children’s exorbitant school fees, besides other regular expenditures. Your savings have depleted and your lifestyle hadn’t allowed you a great saving either. So, once things settle down to the ‘new normal’, what’s a low-savings, high-lifestyle-loving family to do?
“In two words: cut corners to beat the economic downturn” says independent financial consultant Mahesh Poojary from Mangalore. This isn’t as ugly as it resonates; there are hundreds of ways to skimp on financial hedges without relinquishing the entire landscape. “From food to fun to fashion, you can pare down expenses and still live it up – all you need is a little resourcefulness and some good money sense,” he says.
Financial advisor Sohan Mandhar of Bumblebee Consultants, opines, “The economy is at a dead end due to the pandemic. Stock market has been badly hit. You have to be very careful and not take any chances with random speculations.” If you are among the lucky ones to still receive a sound pay check, he advises you to change investment strategy wisely – invest on stocks which are profiting from the crisis, for instance, pharma companies, sanitiser and soap manufacturers, and similar industries. Do not trust blindly but invest with honest, reliable persons only, he adds.
Eat to save
Brown-bag it for a healthier and cost-saving plan — no, you don’t have to eat missal pav or upma ad nauseam. Instead, carry last night’s leftovers and warm them up in the office microwave. Stop eating out. Packing a lunch only thrice a week, every week for a year can save you nearly a lakh of rupees a year. Not a hard figure to swallow.
Now that most of us have honed our culinary skills during the lockdown, keep up the good work. “Knock together a batch of soup, gravy dish, subzi, pulao/biryani during the weekend and refrigerate it in individual portions. This way, you will resist the urge to order pricey and unhealthy take-away food after a hard day’s work, and at the same time enjoy an easy home-cooked meal,” suggests Pune-based home-chef Neelima Nitin.
Think ahead and stock up on your favourite brands when they are on sale; while at a supermarket you are bound to find some redeemable coupons – make use of them. Create your own pizza dough and bake your breads at home, eat out at a happy-hour buffet. Just look out for and you will find umpteen ways to trim edges.
Dress for less
Cut down on dry-cleaning bills, hand-wash clothes that say ‘dry-clean only’. Apply spot remover to new stains as quickly as possible. Look out for thrift or resale shops online that sell slightly used haute couture at a fraction of the original cost. College lecturer Vaishali Das from Mumbai suggests, “Go for end-of-season sale, swap clothes with a friend, mix and match the outfits – each one of us has a latent designer in us. Try DIY tricks to make cropped top, kurtis, without tossing over last year’s sartorial trends. Revamp old dresses, wear a shrug over an old tee to give a new look. Convert saris into kurtas and dupattas.” Attach an applique or collage pattern to save yourself the price of a new dress.
Go out - without going broke
There are latest movies, thrillers and interesting shows streaming on the digital platform. Subscribe to a couple of them which are cheaper than buying expensive multiplex tickets for the family. Munch on home-made snacks while you sip on Vitamin C loaded lemon juice. It aids your fitness and saves costs on samosas and carbonated beverage. This is the time to inculcate reading habits in your children and wean them off electronic gadgets. Buy second hand books on information and their subjects of interest. This way they will learn to appreciate our forgotten art and culture.
Shobha Jagger, a Life Insurance agent from Mumbai divulges, “We have steady incomes as of today since my daughters are working from home still we have made a lot of adjustments in our lifestyle due to the constant fear of losing their jobs in the future. Instead of buying new gadgets, we try and get existing things repaired; we have cancelled our international trip for the next 2 years. We recently started a cookery channel on YouTube called Cook Like A Boss where we try out a lot of stuff and the family is happy as we get to dig into yummy delicacies without having to order in food.”
One of the best weekend ideas to gorge on a variety of exotic food without spending 5-star rates, is to entertain potluck. You get to have a gabfeast where close friends or relatives help with the food portion of the evening! Of course all this while still maintaining lockdown rules.
Buy luxurious items (at smaller prices)
Take charge and apply for a low-interest credit card. Choose mobile phones in accordance with the one that best suits your calling style and your budget.
Get second-hand items at discounted rates. Buying ‘used’ isn’t for cars anymore – you can save enormous amounts of money by buying last year’s models of almost anything, from appliances and electronics to tools and furniture. Put out a word to friends, post on social media, roam through flea markets and tag sales. Most of all, be persistent.
Check out for pre-owned luxe brands https://www.luxepolis.com
Thrift shops are worth placing the orders for resaleable items and premium brands at throwaway prices @aimjavintage, @thriftbanana or thrifty_drips on Instagram.
Nip here, tuck there – a final grab bag
Television actor Monaz Mevawalla who is living entirely on her savings now, reveals, “I have completely stopped shopping for clothes and shoes from Amazon. No more extra expenses like car accessories, clothes and tee shirts for my doggy including toys which he breaks in 10 minutes. I have even stopped the gifts I often buy for my parents.”
Reduce your proportions – experiment with smaller quantities of anything. For example, one tablespoon of dishwasher liquid does the same job as the recommended three or four just as the quantity of face wash need not be the size of a rupee coin as advertised (all manufacturers recommend using more than you actually need). If you have already done spring cleaning during the lockdown, you would have unearthed some interesting things yet of no use to you. Give them away as presents on birthdays and occasions. Basically, make adjustments till we tide over this gloomy monetary downturn.