Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - Year End

A caution, this is really a long post.
We are in last month of the year. I am already thinking about things I want to achieve in next year. This year for the first time I am finding it difficult to find the goals, because from last 4-5 years my goals always revolved around money and I kind of do very well in that department without much of the effort. Hence, while setting last year's goal, I actually for the first time added some non-PF goals in my life.

This revealed one of my big weaknesses to me, something that I can exploit to improve me. I so much hate writing fail for any of the goal that I consciously started working on those things that I used to hate at one time. And I know this is a PF blog and I generally don't write about personal experiences here other than one’s related to money, but I think that my goals for next year will hardly be PF dominated.

Now I look at goal setting as the technique to improve those areas in my life that I really want to improve. So in my year end review, I want to visit not only how many pass vs. fail but also what was hidden motivation behind all my goals.

These are my goals for 2010:
1) Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
Result: 7 Pass vs. 5 Fail

I used to hate cooking. When I got married some 3 years back, I couldn't even prepare a decent tea. I am lucky enough that my in-laws and my husband in particular are OK with it. In NOIDA we had a cook since beginning and my husband will happily prepare breakfast and tea for me (and I am a tea addict).

What got to me to want to change it? LOVE. Yes honestly, I love my hubby and he loves food. He is a big big foodie. After 2 years of my marriage, I started getting those feelings that I want to cook for him, I want him to say good things about my food and so on. In fact, I tried doing this even in second year of marriage, but resolution never lasted more than 2 weeks.

Setting this goal helped me improve my cooking. And after moving to Hyderabad I realized that it’s very difficult to get a decent cook of our taste here. Now I cook dinner everyday which is a big achievement for a person like me.

2) Continue to be on budget.
Result: 8 Pass vs. 4 Fail

What can I say more than the fact that I love budget and personal finance else why will I have this blog. Plus I like to see my savings grow rather than expenses grow. I started with a set budget to spend per month and exceeded it by 10K as per the need (see I am flexible and not at all that rigid or was it like I hated idea of writing fail over here). But I stayed in budget for most part of the year.

3) Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
Result: 9 Pass vs. 3 Fail

We survived a pay cut in 2009 and mortgage has been my first liability ever in life. So I realized the importance of reducing the mortgage amount by prepaying the same. This goal somewhere got modified as save 6 EMIs as emergency fund because my DH was not in favor of prepaying mortgage. I saved 9 EMIs as emergency fund, way more than my set goal.

4) Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
Result: 12 Pass vs. 0 Fail
Well, this part requires least of the effort as everything I do is automated. So I can hardly fail on it unless I don’t have funds in my accounts which have not happened even once in last year. Thanks Murphy and GOD for that.

5) Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
Result: 10 Pass vs. 2 Fail
I think I already confessed here that I was obsessed for tracking every penny spent. But then I realized that I should overcome my obsession or in fact was forced by my DH for same (he doesn’t like to be accountable for number of Pepsi’s he drinks in a day).

A confession, my life is stress free once I got rid of this habit. I still track how much we spend in a month but no need to know how much went for Pepsi and how much for other things.

And one last thing to mention on this point, I have started the tracking again because I want to get the idea of expenses we incur in new place and was suggested by DH himself but it is stress free so far.

6) Learn to swim.
Result: BIG FAIL
I love water and that’s why always wanted to learn to swim. And I have a sinusitis problem which once again made it impossible for me to swim. This will be in my list of things to do before I die.

7) Improve healthy eating.
Result: 8 Pass vs. 4 Fail
Though number shows another picture I can say that it is still close to failure. I need major improvement health wise. That’s one area of my life that I neglected till date (I was almost about to reveal my age. OMG). This area needs major focus next year.

8) Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010
Result: 9 Pass vs. 3 Fail
I don’t do any extra work other then my full time job and house hold chores and I don’t pay myself for latter. This mainly comes from passive income, reward points and gifts. Yes I actually try to save all the cash gifts I receive and some amount corresponding to all the materialistic gifts as well from my budgeted amount. Did I hear insane? Well I’ll say it is just a mental technique to improve my savings.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - November End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's November end and as I promised this month's review includes status of my goals collectively for both the months, October and November.

Goal 1 - Cooking - PASS. Thanks to Hyderabad. :) We are not getting any decent cook here, so I am cooking everyday and so far enjoying it completely. WOW!
Goal 2 - Budget - Don't Know. My Savings is on track, in fact more then on track, so I am assuming that even if I am spending little more, it's OK!
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - PASS.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS.
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - PASS.
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - Have dropped it for now.
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - PASS.
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - PASS. I completed my annual target in November itself. Now whatever I am going to get in December is additional. :)

January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap
July Recap
August Recap
September Recap
October Recap

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My First Lottery Win feels WOW!

Yes, you read it correctly. No I am not a gambling addict but as i have mentioned so many times I am jinxed ;)

Little background, before 26th November 2010, I had never ever won any lottery. I never won Tambola/Housie :(. In fact, I was so unlucky that I have never heard my name in any chit picking game. Once in my college, our lab seats were to be decided by picking up the slips and out of 40 students, I was the last one whose name slip never got picked and I had to take the last seat left :(

But not anymore. On 26th November, in our office party, I won in Tambola, not one but two prizes. One first five and then completing third row.

Do you wanna know how it felt, awesome, purely awesome. I am feeling so lucky again :)

Just wondering how some small things cam make you feel almost half of your age, and no I am not revealing mine :D

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - October End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's October end and technically I should be doing a review of my goals, but I am skipping it for this month. Reason is all the uncertainity in finances (expenses and salary) brought up by our relocation. I will review my October and Novemeber's progress together in November's end.

January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap
July Recap
August Recap
September Recap

Friday, October 22, 2010

Multi Level Marketing - MonaVie is another sucker

Not only Amway, there are other such organizations that one should be aware of.
I read this article recently, and couldn't stop posting it. Please go on and read MonaVie Scam's story from one of the reputed blogger, Lazy Man and Money.

Always keep in mind, there is no wealth without hard and smart work. :)

Have a nice day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bad service with such reputed names

I always wonder whether it’s only me who is so unfortunate when it comes to public dealing or is it about everyone and I am just more vocal then others?

Recently, I shifted to Hyderabad and decided to use Agarwal Packers and Movers for relocation. I heard lots of good things about them but my experience has been bad in short.

They promised to bring wooden frames for packing stuff like fridge and washing machine but they never got same on packing day. As a result my refrigerator got so many scratches. :(

Also, while packing Gas Stove + empty cylinder, they told me that no need to enter Cylinder separately as it is part of Gas Stove. When I received my stuff, Cylinder is missing now they give me excuses like it is not mentioned in the list. Customer care is not at all helpful.

I would never ever recommend any one to use Agarwal Packers and Movers. They promise big but deliver NILL.

And then our good old LIC. I am jinxed for sure. :(

My DH wanted to get term insurance from LIC, a good principal of PF right. I couldn't find even a single agent ready to do that. Even the online site, PolicyBazaar cheated, took the money, and never gave the policy. Finally, one agent agreed to make a term policy but after the cheque got cleared he forced my DH to first buy a huge ULIP through him and then only he will process term papers. Literal blackmailing.

No wonders I HATE LIC. :(

My personal rants, genuine feedback on the kind of service I receive.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - September End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's September end and let's see how am I fairing in these goals.
Goal 1 - Cooking - FAIL. I was busy for interviews, shifting, home repair :(
Goal 2 - Budget - FAIL. See Goal 1.
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - PASS.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS.
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - PASS
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - Have dropped it for now.
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - PASS
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - PASS. Updated: I calculated just now and I exceeded my extra earning goal. Wow
January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap
July Recap
August Recap

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little Update on my end

My posting here became very sparse because I was very unhappy with my job and redirected all my energies to doing something about it.

Few months back I got an offer from some org in another city but couldn't join it because of personal reasons.

My DH and me, mutually, decided that we both wanna change our jobs and hence started hunt once again. He got a job in Hyderabad and finally I also got one there. So we are relocating to Hyderabad.

So, I am sure i'll be able to resume my thoughts on money here once my relocation is done. Its just few more days to go and I am really reverse counting them.

Any packing/relocating tips from any of you guys? Please do let me know.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - August End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's August end and let's see how am I fairing in these goals.
Goal 1 - Cooking - PASS. Finally.
Goal 2 - Budget - PASS.
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - PASS.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS.
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - PASS
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - Have dropped it for now.
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - PASS - August is my birthday month. So I finally gifted myself with a plan to have healthy life. August being the first month on it kept me motivated throughout the month. And best part I already see difference in my overall health. Wow!
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - PASS.
Wow, all goals seemed to PASS. This is my first such a wonderful month of the year.
I have some major updates, will be posting them soon. Big changes happening over here. :(

And one last thing, I really miss two of the blogging friends who have taken their blog private. SavingSavvyPinkey and Emily. Hope to connect with u both soon.

January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap
July Recap

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to all of us.

I love this day more because its also my Mom's birthday.
Happy bday mama.. and thanks for spending your best years on my worst years. :)

Enjoy the day off :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - July End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's July end and let's see how am I fairing in these goals.
Goal 1 - Cooking - FAIL - I wish I could cheat and remove it altogether from my goal list.
Goal 2 - Budget - FAIL - Second in a row :(. Its not my(read our) fault this time. My DH had to board a flight for which he will be reimbursed later. The reimbursement will bring us back in budget.
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - FAIL - see Goal 2 and Goal 4.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS. Infact little more than planned (automated).
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - PASS. Oh Unbelievable I really acheived it. Now I just spend some 3-4 hours in month from some 1-2 hours daily. WOW!
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - Have dropped it for now. Health wise I am having testing times from last 3-4 months. 2 Food poisoning, 2 Viral Fevers, Sinus attack.. I feel like double my age most of the times. More on this in another post that I am planning to work on for last 1 month. :(
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - FAIL. - Read Goal 6. :(
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - FAIL. - For now my everyday chores are tough for me. Don't know how to do this! :(
January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap

Thursday, July 1, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - June End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's June end and let's see how am I fairing in these goals.
Goal 1 - Cooking - FAIL - I am short of an excuse.
Goal 2 - Budget - FAIL - There are some months where one can fail in something they used to excel in. I mean spending double of what you spend per month is BIG FAILURE.
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - FAIL - see Goal 2.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS.
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - PASS.
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - Have dropped it for now. No mood for this. I am feeling low in energy almost all the time. :(
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - PASS.
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - PASS.
January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap

Monday, May 31, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - May End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's May end and let's see how am I fairing in these goals.
Goal 1 - Cooking - PASS - My maid is on leave.
Goal 2 - Budget - PASS.
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - PASS.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS.
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - PASS.
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - Have dropped it for now. No mood for this. I am feeling low in energy almost all the time. :(
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - PASS.
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - FAIL. Very hectic month. Can't help it. :(

January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Simple Thought on Money

You know when human civilizations were naive, people used to use barter system to trade across with each other. That system became complex and difficult to manage over the time and hence came the concept of money in picture.

Money was actually devised to make spending easier. In fact, as per its origin, it is valuable only if you can trade it for some stuff or service you need. But as per my view it is valuable even if you save it and not spend it. Saving the money will give you peace of mind that if some emergency strikes, you can tackle it relatively peacefully.

Funny isn't it?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Couple of Frugal Tips

I was always a frugal growing up. I would have been big spender in my late years if I would not have faced something like Mumbai Floods so early in my spending days. It changed my outlook towards money and stuff completely.

Side effects of my experience, I might not be a minimalist but I am not a collector either. I use and possess lot of stuff but I don't buy anything ever that is very good but I might need it after some time. I always postpone such purchases till the point I actually need it. 75% of the things it turns out that I actually never got to need it.

Secondly, as some of my friends here are aware that I am on actually spending freeze for one year. I am restraining myself from buying anything new for more then a year. In retrospection that's what I always do. I always abide by the policy of "Only Replacing the things that I Love". What this means is that generally I am very satisfied with 5 skirts, 2 jeans, 4 pair of shoes and so on. Whenever I go shopping I can easily curb the urge to buy anything new till all my possessions are in good shape. If, however, any of the things are torn off, I feel absolutely comfortable and OK to go ahead and buy them.

This helps in achieving two goals, one not possession loads of stuff and second never having materialistic possessions of more then 3L. Side effect, this tuning of money attitude saves me load of money.

Give it a try on your own. Start with any one thing, and decide how many of them are just good enough for you. Once you have that number train your mind to not buy them new till they are in good shape and replace it soon once it is torn off. Once mastered, it will help you save a lot by curbing the urge to buy the unnecessary things.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What leads to frugality?

I have heard this so many times that being rich people generally are miser and very conscious about spending money. And I have also heard lots of people commenting on someone's frugality like, "he was poor when growing up, he is a compulsive frugal now even if he can afford it."

The latest comment really provoked my thoughts if that is true. Looking around me I don't actually agree with any such characterization. I have seen all kind of frugal people, those who were always rich, those who were poor once, and those who were middle class once. I have actually seen lots of frugal people in all the above categories. (As a side note: I guess that’s why people say Indians are Miser, Indians are actually very very frugal, I dare not say miser. P.S. I am an Indian Too.)

Why Rich can be Frugal?
I have already written a post about my thoughts on this. Read it here.

Why "one-time-poor" are frugal?
When you are poor you just have to struggle more then any one else. Even necessities are tough to get in such circumstances. Hence, they need to watch every penny they spend, because even a penny waste might mean that you won't be able to pay some bill.

When they get any extra money, they tend to save it, so that it can be used to pay some future bill. In the process, after working very hard and saving all the extra bucks rather then spending them on wants, they never realize that they are above the threshold now. They never realize that they can actually now pay all the bills even if they splurge some part of their money. They don't know how to put a full stop at the attitude of save-for-future. It's just like a law of Newton, A body in motion will always be in motion until some external force is applied. In their case that external force is just not there.

Why "middle-class" people can be frugal?
I think for two primary reasons, one they are scared that if they won't they will go to poor category and second they want to be in first category of being rich. I am now in middle class and both these reasons are personal. I am scared of first and my DH thinks latter way.

What do you think? Any special people are frugal or it is more to do with an individual rather then class you belong to?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guilt of affording it

Early life
Throughout my childhood I have lived a frugal lifestyle. Ours was a single-income home and hence, money was limited and generally less then everybody's cumulative needs. I used to get my pocket money and I don't remember even one incident when I had no money at the end of month. My money philosophy used to be simple, "avoid splurge today for a need of tomorrow". My dad sometimes, to tease my frugal ideas, used to say that I have more savings then him. Then I started working and was still frugal. I had a goal to save for my further studies and hence lived like a student even while working.

Some of my friends used to tell me that I am living a life of deprivation and I agree. There was no balance in my life at that point in time. I made those choices in earlier life because of two reasons, firstly because I wanted to enjoy my working life and second because I used to feel guilt of spending my dad's earned money on my wish lists. In those days, whenever I used to feel sad, I used to tell myself that this is the only way to have comfortable life that I dream about.

Employment Effects
I officially finished my studies in 2005 and started working thereafter. I told myself that now is the time to get rid of frugal attitude and enjoy the materialistic things. I started splurging on things that I loved clothes, jewellery and travelling. I convinced my self that it’s OK to spend 40% of my salary on these things and save rest. I know that it’s not necessary to save all that I earn now.

Marriage Happened
After 3 years I got married. Then came few months where I was only spending all the money that I am earning. First year of my marriage I could hardly save anything for retirement. I understood that I am building my home from scratch and hence this is bound to happen. Before my marriage completed first year, recession hit. We took pay cuts and got little more conscious about spending the money. As a result, we sailed smoothly in recession year as well.

Current Situation
Now I am again at point of time where I have no immediate expenses. I have everything that I need at my home; I have bought my new car with down payment, hence less of recurring cost of maintenance for now. I am again on track to save for retirement; I am again building my EF.

Of course I feel blessed and happy about my financial status. I am doing OK, not making any dumb choices, cutting the corners where needed and enjoying a balance between today and tomorrow. I can afford to indulge in few things that I love but others find extravagant. That makes me feel guilty of spending, guilt of being able to afford it. Not so encouraging comments from friends and family in some cases make it even worst. I find it very annoying and depressing when somebody comments on my indulgence without even considering that it might really matter to me or it might be that I have first saved for it. I have actually heard few things like, "wow, can you really afford a lunch at 5 star hotel on some XXX occasion", "you spend Rs 700 on a game, that's too much." At such occasions, I feel guilt of being able to afford some thing that my peers probably can't afford.

Why should I feel guilt on such occasions? I have worked hard for being at a place where I am today. I have made some very difficult choices in my life to have my current life. And above all, when I was making those choices and my peers were having fun, I never felt bad for myself or them. Rather I used to feel happy for them and used to motivate myself that I am going to have better life someday. But the ground reality is I feel bad.

Does anyone else also experience same? If yes, how you guys handle it?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Excess of anything is bad

Not long back, till just one and a half months back, I used to be obsessed for tracking my expenses. I am maintaining my excel sheet from last so many years and never thought that I could survive without doing this.

In fact, I used to love playing with my excel sheet. It's so elaborative and detailed that I can tell all the transactions of my all bank accounts just looking at my detailed sheet.

Then one day I realized it is actually controlling me. This happened when my DH asked for something and I told him that "we are over budget in this category, so will you mind waiting for one week so that I can buy this for you next month." Very bad of me. He was being very supportive with me on budget and all after he managed the expenses for a month, but he didn't take it too well. He told me you are being too much finicky about small things and don't realize that probably in few years from now we might not be able to consume these things.

I actually thought about it and then realized that its true. My budget certainly is a very useful tool. We allocate a fixed amount of money each month for our monthly home expenses. Budgeting and tracking helps me save some money every month from our allocated money for home expenses. But what will happen if I'll not be able to save that amount each month. It will not derail my savings plan or retirement savings at all.

So I decided to try something very different for the first time in my life. I paid all the bills as usual. Then I withdraw one-third of original allocated amount as cash and kept in drawer. I told my DH now he can buy anything he wants from the money kept in drawer. No need to inform me as I am quitting tracking for some time. After paying all the bills and withdrawing one-third of the money as cash, I was still having some Rs. 7K in my home account. Few of my bills come towards the end of the month. This made sure that I have money for them. I prepared my self that I might go overboard by some 5K this month. Once the cash got finished, I got more money from my account and again kept them in drawer.

At the end of the month, I was over budget by only Rs. 1500. Yes given due to my strict tracking and budgeting previously, I generally used to save 3-4 K of my home expenses money. It meant that we spent around Rs 5K more then usual. But rather then counting this as failure, I was satisfied. This is the amount that I can certainly afford to spend to have more peaceful life. I am convinced that because of all the good habits that we have developed over years, we will be able to do well just like this month even without strict budgeting.

So, I changed my budgeting and tracking system for now. I am not going to enter each day expenses in my detailed sheet. Rather, I'll just be tracking when I am paying bills directly through my bank account or withdrawing money from there. Once money is withdrawn, it can be spend without noting anywhere where we are spending it. This one month change helped me in realizing that I actually loose my peace of mind sometimes because of excessive tracking. And excess of any thing, even good thing, is bad my dear friend.

As a side note, it was very difficult for me to not-track my expenses. You guys might not believe but in initial few weeks, I used to still open my excel sheet around 5-7 times a day and used to keep staring at it. I used to feel bad for not entering my expenses. But now finally I am evolved. Now I open my sheet only once a day, that too just to update my stock balances and to enter any transactions through my banks. It was tough but worth it.

How about you? Do any of you are also so obsessed for tracking as used to be? Or You guys plain lucky to be not insane just like me?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This also happens sometimes...

Getting rich is everybody's dream, at least, that can be general statement which applies to 50% of the population on this earth. I am not against anybody's dream and effort to become rich. What I am totally against is when people push me in their get-rich-quick-scheme-with-little-work. Yes, I am very skeptical of all these ideas and am totally uninterested in becoming members of anything like Amway, Oriflamme etc.

Last weekend, couple of my DH's friends were supposed to visit us. They brought some more 3 people along with them. My DH's friend decided to keep silent and one of the 3 strangers started talking to us. He took out an A4 sheet and pen from his bag and here was how our conversation went:

Stranger#1: What you all do?
DH: We both are engineers.
Stranger#1: Why do you work?
DH: To earn money.
Me: (Interrupted them to add) and to keep ourselves busy and do what I love a lot, programming.
Stranger#1: (looking towards me) Wow. That's unheard of. I myself work in same field for last 12 years and he (stranger#2) is in this field from last 18 years in XYZ Company (a very big company).
Me: Great. It's nice to meet you all.
Stranger#1: So, imagine what you will do if you are told to retire today.
Me: (looking little confused) and that means?
Stranger#1: If you get some 1-2 crore rupee today and you get some monthly income throughout your further life without your current job what will you do?
DH: Don't know.
Me: (DH is already looking at me, means ball is in my court) Will probably still go to my job because I love my work if nothing else there.
Stranger#1: (Little surprised) you have no dreams or goals in your life?
DH: We do have and we are already living our dream life kind of. (I was elated hearing this.)
Stranger#1: Would you still like to work.
DH: Yes, may be then I'll be doing more of farming, probably apple farming somewhere.
Stranger#1: Wow, I would also like to do farming after retirement. (Turning to me now) So, what will you do then?
Me: Nothing extra ordinary. Pretty much the same what I am doing now.
Stranger#1: (More surprised) so what do you do now with your money.
Me: Nothing. My DH's salary is sufficient for two of us. Mine is used for extravagant things. That's all.
Stranger#1: (Thinking that he is not going anywhere with me) won’t you like to go on shopping spree or jewellery collection if given lots of money?
Me: No. I am very much happy with what I have and what I can buy today.
Stranger#1: I am shocked. You are the first woman who is saying that she is not interested in jewellery and shopping. (Well please note that I never said that. All I said that I am content with what I have.)
Stranger#2: I am shocked too. My wife last month demanded Rs.40 Lakhs bangles from me.
Me: (Now I am shocked) Good. But I am not interested in them.
Stranger#1: (giving disgusting look to my house) is this your dream home?
Me: Yes very much.
Stranger#1: I am surprised. I have never seen a more content person then you in my life. All the credit goes to you (to my DH).
Me: (Just smiled)
Stranger#1: (To my DH now) so do you like travelling?
DH: Yes.
Stranger#1: Where will you go travelling when you will have money?
DH: We both love exploring India. We will visit rest of the places that we have still not visited.
Stranger#1: Why India. That's the problem. We all learn to dream small. You don't want to go anywhere outside India?
DH: Yes probably once to Vancouver again because I have studied there.
Stranger#1: See, and we have a scheme where this all will be possible in just
few years with little work.

Do I need to tell you that I hated him and his ideas! I absolutely love my house. I live in one of the posh most areas of my city. I drive the car that I love. I travel in India because we both are crazy to explore India and let me tell you visiting places like Kashmir, Sikkim, Kerala cost you more money then traveling is so called destinations like Malaysia, Thailand etc.

He approached us all wrong. He must have come across those people who think that their life sucks and that more money will make them happy. Not me at least. By demeaning the things that I absolutely love he is never going to get what he wanted. I am never going to join what ever quick-rich scheme he has.

I don't know but I can't stop thinking bad about that day and those people.
What do you feel. Am I too skeptical for these kind of people or were they actually so annoying?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anxious of tracking and budgeting

A earns 6 figure salary, believes that lives decent life and not extravagant but still at the end of the month always devastated by looking at his bank account that he is left with so less. You never know where you spent all that money?

Does this sound familiar? Then A can be you. Where is the problem after all? The problem can be anywhere from someone duping you of your money to you duping yourself of your money. But how will you come to know?

There come two of my favorite tools of personal finance, tracking and budgeting. I know that they sound very intriguing to start with. Truth is they are pretty easy. You don't have to do it perfectly. It's OK if you miss entering few of expenses and still better then tracking absolutely nothing.

Start with it, for the first month, note down all the expenses. This will give you an approximate idea of where your money goes. Then try to look at the things that are more then what you thought them to be and see how logical your spending is? For example, if eating out comes to be double then what you expected them to be, check if you really need to eat out so often? Then do this again next month and once again the following month.

Make a budget and compare your expenses with your budget. Tweak your budget where needed and try to work on your expenses at other places.

Trust me; the toughest part of this whole process is the first step. Take it, jump on and fly.

How about you? Are you tracking savvy like me or scared of it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

suggest something.. me confused

I was reading an article on anger management only just. It defined anger as Anger is "an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage" according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Nice article I must say.

But after finishing it, I was pondering over plethora of thoughts that were crossing my mind at that time, varying from why I am reading such an article to why generally people get angry. Again the words from same article “Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (Such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.” I am sorry Dr, I am a na├»ve and not an connoisseur like you, hence if I put same in my simple words it will be ‘non-fulfillment of expectation leads to frustration and that frustration over the period of time is what comes out as anger

So here I come again, at one of my favorite topic to talk about, expectations. Expectations comes from your own actions, it’s basically law of action reaction that we all studied (not me actually, I hated physics then and now I almost dread it :( ) in physics in high schools. Your mind is programmed to expect some reaction after every action you have taken. Reaction can be from a person, from event, from environment and all. Now, it’s a human brain and is capable of flying to the unseen heights. So, for every action, it has already chosen a suitable reaction. Of course, that choice is not the random one or the most favorable one, but basically involves complex dynamic of relationships, circumstances, promises, and what not. Now, when the reaction comes from the second party and it doesn’t matches to what you expected, it hurts. It hurts, not because reaction is different, but also because that means dynamics, complex dynamics involved behind the expectation, proved to be wrong some where.

So, what do you say, next time when you are angry, rather then out bursting in rage (my favorite way though :p ) sit and analyze the dynamics and see where it went wrong. HA. After writing this article, at least I am feeling much better. No more angry at all. :lol:

Cheers and remember, (one of my all time favorite quotation) “Silence is the hardest argument to refute.” And please, also do remember to give and expect a lot in the relationship because that is what makes the relationship stronger. Just because some of the relationships didn’t deserved so much giving, doesn’t mean the approach is wrong at the first place. Choose relationships judiously, not the expectations.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Spending Spree

I have been a personal finance savvy since childhood. I love saving money, seeing my money grow, tracking my expenses, reducing my spending and so on. I never had any problem with money not even when I got my first job. This is because I had a goal of saving for further studies at that time. But then, when I finished my studies and got my real first job, I went mad with my money.

When I graduated, I had some 50K left with me. And I was earning close to 20K. But in two months I was left with 11K only, given I had no rent to pay at that time. What went wrong, almost everything? I had too much of cash flow but no goals for me. Now I didn't have to save for studies and other then that I never wanted anything at that stage. Thankfully, I realized my spending problem before it came close to becoming addiction and came back on correct track.

What about you? Have you faced similar attitude change?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mumbai Floods - July 2005

Mumbai Floods

I was living in Mumbai in July 2005. Unfortunately or fortunately on 26th July 2005 I was not there. But the day will always be there in my bad memories. I was unconscious and hospitalized at that time in Delhi and when two days later I regained my conscious and saw those footages, I was scared.

It was only after two weeks that I could return to Mumbai. My roommate shifted to another apartment by then and she was such a sweetheart that she also moved my stuff along with her. Our previous house was at ground floor and got totally submerged in water. When I came and looked at my remaining stuff, I was terrified. All the bags were covered with mud.

I lost a great deal of stuff in that calamity, including:
1) Books
2) Clothes
3) Money
4) All my stories and poems
5) Stationery
6) Lots of gifts and mementos

Of course the biggest loss was my stories and poems for which I had no backup. And I learnt a great deal of lessons out of it.
1) I stopped being a collector. Now I only buy the things that I need today. I don’t want to buy anything for future.
2) I learnt that enjoy the things that you love today. Don’t store them for future.
3) I learnt, hard way, how important it is to protect the possessions that you love. In my case, now I always backup all the work that I write.
4) I also learnt that you can actually dispense lots of things that you previously thought to be indispensable from your life.

Fortunately, my loss was more of materialistic nature and other then my stories, there was nothing that I lost and still feel sorry about. But, I learnt that a calamity can strike anyone and can hurt me or some close member. So, whenever I plan my finances, I never forget to include appropriate amount of insurance.

My two words of advice here: don’t wait to experience everything on your own. Its good sometime to learn from others experiences as well. Learn from my bad experience and always have appropriate insurance.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My All Jobs So Far

My Honest CV
Without revealing my exact age, I can tell that I have lived almost one-third of my life and worked at quite a places in different roles with different responsibilities.

  • My first job was not a formal job. Rather it was an attempt to earn my pocket money to support myself while graduation.

  • I worked as a trainee in one of the S/W companies (don't wanna name it) and earned nothing there. That was way back in 2002, dot com bubble bust era.

  • Later I joined a BPO (formerly Daksh, and now IBM Daksh) and worked there as Insurance Claim Processor for 9 months.

  • I left job at BPO to pursue my PG and worked side by side as TA in my college.

  • After college moved to work in RCom, which I left in 2 months. Thanks GOD!

  • And now here I am, working in my current office for last 5 years.

It's been a long and satisfactory journey so far. :)

How about you? How many jobs you had so far?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Initial Investing Mistakes

Some mistakes I have made in my initial days of investing:

Trading very often
When I first learned how to buy-sell stocks, I used to do this very often. As soon as stock will give me 5% profit, I used to sell it off. Later, not sooner I realize, this way it's not me but it's ICICI Direct that's getting richer.

Putting all my eggs in one basket
Infrastructure was at peak when I started. I bought all Infrastructure related stocks. I am still hoping they will recover one day.

Sunk-Cost fallacy
I bought a share at its peak. It fell badly in few days. Rather then buying something else, I fooled myself and bought same stock again at lower price. Logic, if we can say it at all, was that by buying further I am lowering its average cost which will help me to recover my losses earlier. :(

Trying to time
Yes, I tried doing this. Now when I look back, I laugh on it. What else can I do?

Losing Patience
When I started trading Sensex was trading at 17K range. It then fell to 14K range and further to 8K before re-bouncing last year. I held my losses all the way through 17K to 11K. But at 11K, I sold my entire portfolio. Please don't even ask how much I regret it and how much I have learnt from it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mental tricks to save money

Some mental tricks that can save you money:

1) Lots of research shows that paying through cash makes you think twice before you buy anything. In contrast, paying through credit card seems to increase unnecessary expenses.

2) When paying with cash, keep big bills with you and some small bills. This will help you in curbing the urge to buy small unnecessary things because it is relatively difficult to buy an Rs 50 item with Rs 500 bill then with Rs 100 bill.

3) Whenever going for grocery shopping, eat something before leaving home. You tend to buy expensive, ready-to-eat items when hungry.

Monday, May 10, 2010

career vs job

While browsing, I read some article on Job vs. Career. The article differentiated the two of them as: A job is something you do simply to earn money; a career is a series of connected employment opportunities. A job has minimal impact on your future work life, while a career provides experience and learning to fuel your future. A job offers few networking opportunities, but a career is loaded with them. When you work at a job, you should do the minimum without annoying the boss. When you’re in a career, you should go the extra mile, doing tasks beyond your minimum job description.

With all the due respect to the proficient who have written this, I don’t agree with most of it. Can you discriminate a job from a career? Fine you can! I am an engineer by occupation. When I passed my college, industry was in decline so I joined a BPO for a part time job. Working as insurance claim processors was indeed my job, but not a career. A job because I was sure I was here for short term and not long term. So, basically, what I understood from above words is, Job is short term and Career is long term.

My job was undoubtedly not a humdinger for my career, but I used to work very hard, scarcely ever taking my breaks, always looking further for the ways to perk up my effectiveness. And not to reveal, I really excelled in my job, got good hikes and promotions.

So a palpable query that comes to my mind, why I worked so hard? That was a job after all and not career! I think the rationale is not short term vs. long term, but relates more with your standards of life that you your self define for yourself.

Consider it this way! Look at the value you add against the hours you endow at any place. Be it your job or career, you giving it some X hours of your existence every day. If you are not content with it, are you not slaying that part of your life too? Whatever you do and how you do basically reveal how passionate you are in your life and has nothing to do with short term or long term goals. Life is not about what you accomplish at the conclusion of 10 or 20 years, it’s after all how you expend those years.

It’s all in outlook towards the life. You can either wait for holi to get colors and diwali to get light or else you can make every day holi and diwali by adding colors and light in them everyday. It’s all your opinion, and all your life at the end of the day. Happiness, contentment, pleasure, performance is all part of you and not short term and long term goals. So you cannot decide to not give something your best because that’s merely a job for you, can you?

Keep Smiling. :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saving for long term goals

Secret to save for long term goals, like retirement, kids studies etc, is simple. Start early, be disciplined in savings, increase the saving amount as your income increases and adjust savings allocation periodically.

Start early because it gives lots of freedom. First you have abundant time in your side and hence you can use power of compounding for you. Also, because you will be starting early, you can start with small amounts.

Being disciplined is important because you are trying to save for long term goal and it might happen that short term goals sweeps away all of your money. Hence, automate the savings as much as possible and then set short term goals based on leftover money.

Adjust your allocation as time passes. For example if you started to save 10% of your monthly income, increase it every time you get a hike.

Last but not the least, review your allocations periodically say once every year and do necessary changes. As and when you are approaching your goal, reduce risk in your portfolio. If you started with 70-30, 70% in equity and 30% in debt market, with age change this allocation to 50-50 and then to 30-70 eventually.

These all simple steps will make sure that you can save for any long term goal without much of pain.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Handling Non-Fixed expenses in budget

Make use of fluctuating prices to build a hedge fund. I make monthly budget for my family and then try to run my house within that budget limits. Two things that ruin my budget most of the times are: Unplanned emergencies (well can emergencies be planned? ;)) and non-fixed costs. Emergency fund can take care of former, but what about latter?

There are so many not-fixed expenses in a month. Electricity bill, fuel costs, medicines, grocery and so on. How I deal with them? I open up my last years excel sheet, take an average spending of every category, adjust it for 10% up (to account for inflation). This new amount is now my monthly limit for that particular category. It gets that amount per month and whatever is saved gets carried forward in next months.

For example, if my gifts annual spending of last year is say Rs. 24,000. Monthly average comes out to Rs. 2,000 and 10% adjusted is Rs 2,200. I know that particular month, assume October, is going to be cash intensive because I have maximum occasions and festivals in there. In every month starting gifts category will get Rs. 2,200. Whatever amount is left gets carried forward in another month and so on. By the time October comes I have already saved Rs. 10,000 in it and hence I will be able to handle festival season without much of budget skewing. In fact, what I also do it put that money aside in one money multiplier account so that in the mean time it can also fetch some high interest.

How about you? Do you budget on actual or on averages?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

vicious circle

It says ‘life is to move on’ and I decided to move on and made new mistakes and it again told me to move on and I did and made new mistakes...

Life is a vicious circle, you do few things, some will be good from one outlook, some will be not so good, and some will be bad. You will realize your gaffe, your constraints and will try to move on. To move on, you will make more picks, followed by more actions. Again, few of them will be good, few not and life becomes a vicious circle.

No matter what you do, what you choose, you will have grudges, grievances, guilt’s, tears and smiles. But you keep moving on as it says that life is to move on.

Only way I can see to actually move on in life is not and never to look back in life. No matter what all says, even those who used to matter most at some time, don’t look back, as it also says that ‘don’t look back, because that is not the direction you are traveling in.’ In life, 100 people you will meet will not behave in a way you expected them to and similarly you can not behave in a way 100 others expect you from.

No matter what anyone claims, no one can ever completely understand your circumstances and what you went through. So, a learning hard learnt, never stop to or try to explain same to anyone. That will increase fault and stews and will make moving on difficult.

I said in one of my blogs that ‘expect and give a lot in any relationship, because that’s what makes a relationship stronger’, but one more conclusion I have drawn is, as soon as a relationship ends, get rid of all expectations from it. That is the true way to move on.

So cheer up and move on as it says ‘life is to move on’.

Last to say, 'life can be tough, circumstances can be tougher, keep on living with dignity, because there is no other way to live the life.’

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What is your financial personality?

I came across lots of people in my daily life and no two are similar. But when it comes to financial pattern, I see some common types of personality:

Dominant Miser - They are the one's who will never offer you an extra scoop of ice-cream over smoothie when they are treating and will always order the expensive most thing on the Menu when someone else is treating. They never forget when others owe them money but will never remember if they owe the money to you. And they are so dominantly miser, that even their partners will dread spending in their presence. (A very personal experience of a real-life couple I know.)

Recessive Miser - Their heart aches to spend money. They will never buy a gift for you on any occasion. They just don't feel the need to buy something for this occasion. But when in the group, they are absolutely OK to pick the tabs. When they go shopping with their partner, they find it hard to spend for themselves, then for their home and hardly any problem in buying for the partner. Buying gifts for others if they are not around is still a problem. So basically they are miser, but recessive in a way because it is not transferrable to their partners.

Recessive Spender - Personally I find them most irritating. They are the ones who will not think twice before buying something for themselves. They will have latest gadgets, branded clothes but will never have money when it comes to treating others or picking tabs when in group. They never refuse a treat from you but will be super busy post 2 months of their birthday. Their partners have to save because of all the financial goals. Not FAIR! I remember that Fabulously Broke once mentioned a story of her brother who falls in this category. And no I still not read her.

Dominant Spender - Well, they are the ones who love spending money. They are the one's who will not think twice before buying something for them, for their family and friends. They are so cheerful doing it that their partners feel obliged. When they are around, even miser partners want to splurge on themselves.

I think I am little bit of Recessive Miser and little more of Dominant Spender.
How about you? What kind of person are you?

Kurukshetra Trip - Some Memories

I promised to post my kurukshetra trip photographs but delayed it for so long.
Here are some of the best moments captured in these beautiful photogarphs.

This one is some kund in kurukshetra (I am sorry but i have really forgotten its name:-()

This one is my favourite favourite of all.

This is shekh chilli's makbra, an awesome place to visit.

Well what can I say about this, "Hare Krishna Hare Ram"

From the place where lord krishna delivered Geeta Updesh.

I hope you liked them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - April End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's April end and let's see how am I fairing in these goals.
Goal 1 - Cooking - PASS - Finally.
Goal 2 - Budget - PASS.
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - PASS.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS.
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - PASS.
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - Have dropped it for now. No mood for this. I am feeling low in energy almost all the time. :(
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - PASS.
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - PASS.

January Recap
February Recap
March Recap

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Update Post

There has been a silence over here.
So a little update post about "whereabouts and whatabouts".

Well, I decided to let pass the opportunity I talked about. Simple reasons, it's not lucrative enough to leave my settled home and resettle everything in new state. That hassle needs more motivation then current offer is.

And I had a fight with my manager in my current position. So, I am more then determined to change my Job. This means rigorous study and hence no time for this blog for now.

In fact, this time this urge is so serious that first time in my life I have stopped tracking my expenses. Yes, this month I am not tracking my monthly expenses. Just took out a lump sum money and till everything is within that amount, I am going to be OK. I don't want to waste any time on tracking.

I will be posting scarcely here for now, but will definitely be catching with everybody on my GRS. It can't be all work after all.

For now, I am hoping, preparing and praying to get a new job soon.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 Goals Tracking - March End

These are my goals for 2010.
1)Continue learning new dishes to cook. One new dish per week.
2)Continue to be on budget.
3)Start saving for prepayment of mortgage. 2L should be saved for same.
4)Contribute to retirement as per the plan.
5)Be less obsessive on daily tracking of things.
6)Learn to swim.
7)Improve healthy eating.
8)Earning Rs 50250 (2010*25) extra in 2010

It's March end and let's see how am I fairing in these goals.
Goal 1 - Cooking - PASS - Finally.
Goal 2 - Budget - PASS.
Goal 3 - Save for Mortgage - PASS.
Goal 4 - Save for Retirement - PASS - I never miss this, touch wood.
Goal 5 - Obsession for tracking - FAIL.
Goal 6 - Swimming - Don't Know - This can only be done in summers.
Goal 7 - Healthy Eating - PASS.
Goal 8 - Extra Earnings - PASS - Well ABN Amro Debit Card helped me achieve it this time.

January Recap
February Recap

my car music system got broken

Today morning at around 6'O clock somebody rang my door bell.
Irritated to be woken up so early, i came to knew that someone has broken my new car's back window pane to steal my music system. :(

Things broken:

1) Window Pane
2) AC duct
3) Music system
4) Indicators were also not working in the morning.

How I feel, terrible. :(
My DH is now at service station to get the car repaired.
And I am waiting for the bill.

Unexpected expenses just pop up unexpectedly and in sad sad way.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I was on vacation for a week to dharamsala.
Reason for all the silence and one junk post here. :)
will update you all soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mortgage and its impact on one's money habits

House Loan has a big impact on one's lifestyle. This is what I have seen around me in so many couples and individual.

I have a friend who bought his house after 5 years of job. He always used to share his stories that he used to eat-out quite often when without a mortgage, but now after a mortgage he can't afford that much of eating out. I know of other manager who jokes that now because he has a mortgage, he can't buy that new shirt on this birthday. I know lots of people who postpone family planning because of huge mortgage.

Hearing to all these tales I always used to wonder why this happens. And now, when I have my own mortgage to deal with I precisely know what triggers all these changes:

If you are not paying mortgage, you have no financial burden of monthly payments. Yes you still might be paying rent, but rent's per month in Noida are 10K-15K where as EMI will be somewhere from 30K-35K. This obviously leaves you with the less money to spend hence the lifestyle changes become must.

Also, when you are paying mortgage, interest amount is very high. Most of the home-buyers pay almost same amount or more then original loan amount as interest to the lender. i.e. To say if you get a loan for Rs 30L, you might end up paying 70L-80L in whole. Once you understood it, you definitely want to save for loan prepayment.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

trying........ to move on

When I was in sixth standard, I read in my science textbook a statement, which meant a definite one-mark question at that time. "Only those creatures survive who can adapt themselves to the environment". But never until I crossed my teens, I felt that it’s much more then that. I, as a human being, have done the same so many times in my life. When I attended college, I changed my dressing style, studying style, to suit better to the so-called new life of College. Then moving forward did same once again for my Post Graduation, first job, second job and so on.

May be I am generalizing, but I feel that in order to survive, we all do the same; change ourselves as per the new environment. In the process of survival, we meet many other humans. We tend to trust them and they tend to trust us. This mutual trust creates a bond between two humans that we conveniently name as Friendship.

But then humans are not perfect and so cannot be that bond. You tend to trust wrong people or its other way around. Few of them will behave in a way that you don’t expect them to behave in. You conveniently term them as wrong people! But if they were wrong, then how come you are hurt by what they have done! Reason being they were correct in their own survival circle, but probably it’s you who had wrong expectations from them!

So next time, if some one does a wrong to me, rather then trying to forgive them, I’ll try to forgive myself for expecting wrong from right people and hurting myself.

May be, this will improve my survival cycle. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Childhood Frugality Obsession

I have a confession to make. I have been picked up by lots of people for my frugality. Not, it's just not my friends or an acquaintance, even my family some-times teases me for my frugality.

I still remember how when in my childhood days I'll not buy a candy for Rs 1 because I don't want to give away Rs 5. for this and get some change back. Till date when I go for window shopping, I take all big currency with me to avoid any kind of silly temptation.

I used to make notebooks from the papers that have one side blank, be it printouts, bills, envelopes, newspaper. This is something I do till date. My friends in college and some distant cousin used to call me cheapster to take out such papers from News Paper or from any other source for that matter. Yes, when I was a kid I was doing it primarily for saving my pocket money, but today I do it because I don't want to waste paper.

I used to wear hand-me-down clothes when in college and have been picked by my classmates more then once on not buying any new clothes even on birthday. I was absolutely OK with it because my sister is super-generous to hand-me-down very good quality clothes and besides I had tons of other things to do with my pocket money.

I never ever bought a pop-corn in theatre in my college days. No way could I afford it. Buying popcorn meant 1/10th of my pocket money. I rather will eat one burger in cafeteria to avoid even temptation. My friends never let this chance pass away to tell me how cheap I am.

If I'll list all other incidents off the head, this post will be the longest ever written. :)

How about you? Have you ever been teased for your frugal ideas?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Is gender biasing really true?

Yesterday I was watching "Mein aur Mrs. Khanna". If you have not watched it yet, don't waste your time by watching it. Very bad and predictable plot!

But it had an angle that got my brain to work. Lead pair, Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, is having tough time in their marriage because our hero is unemployed and his wife is working and supporting him and house. He makes her life miserable as a result of this, by not communicating his feelings and not doing anything relevant for her. He was purely selfish in that part of movie.

I know this very Indian mentality even today. Indian males can hardly accept it if their wives earn more then them. It's an acceptable norm that male should earn more then female in the relationship. Women's career runs on the whims and fancies of male. She has to make lots of compromises in her working life, sometimes willingly and sometimes unwillingly, like leaving job for raising babies, not taking promotions to avoid increase work load etc.

I am not against compromises. I am a woman and have done so and will do more in future as well, because they were never forced to me. What I find problematic is why Indian males still feel that they have right to have superior career and that women should always make compromises. Girls work equally hard to raise high in working life and have to work harder to maintain a balance in professional/personal life. But when it comes to male, no such balance exists. They take it for granted to behave in any way if their professional life is not going smooth. They will stop communicating when dealing with tight deadline at work, will leave all house hold chores when dealing with work pressure. Can women also afford to behave so immaturely?

Have you also noticed this gender biasing in Indian guys or am I really a feminist?

P.S. This is not from my personal experience. I am really blessed because my DH is more balanced then me. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Save for Yourself

Lot's of people buy lotteries in order to get rich quickly. Lotteries are so addictive that I remember how Delhi Government put a ban on it.

People who buy lottery tickets want to use small sum of the money to get rich quickly. Well I am not sure of what will be the odds to get rich that way, but I know one sure way which will give you some wealth in long run. It's called power of compounding.

Let's say a lottery tickets is for Rs. 100 and you buy lottery ticket every week. At the age of 20, if you start saving and investing this Rs. 100 in some recurring deposit or mutual funds or stocks, then over the long period of time it may yield much better secure returns.

For example of savings give 9% of return, then this savings will become Rs. 59430 in 30 years.

So, don't save to make others rich rather save with discipline to build wealth for you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

missing missing

I am having something called writer block.
Just not feeling right now to do anything because of all the confusion in my life.
Hopefully i'll be fine and back in 2-3 days.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I am not Impressed with this Frugal Tip

Yes, I do read lots of PF blogs. My GRS has approximately 50 of them. One thing that I have noticed is that many PF bloggers talk about same topics or tips at same time, and few of them don't even bother to link to the original post they got the idea from. May be I am being too sarcastic, it's just a co-incidence.

Recently I came across a tip on many many blogs, last one was at Times' Money. Tips that they claim to save money is to celebrate only special birthdays. Like 16th, 18th, 21st, and 30th and so on.

When first time I read about it (I should have saved it's link somewhere, darn it), it sounded so crazy but now after reading at some 3-4 places, I thought someone is really serious about it.

No way that I am ever going to do this. (I think now-a-days I have become too selective of frugal tips.) I will never do that. I seriously don't want to be an old lady in future who has lots of money in her bank but no memories, stories for her future generations. :)

I will rather always celebrate my birthday every year and have loads and loads of photographs of my aging process. :)

How about you? Will you skip celebrating a birthday to save some money?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How Healthy Is Your Budget?

Take FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy is your Budget? at WiseBread.

Find mine answers below.

Budget Maintenance / Awareness
I plan ahead for large expenses like repairs, appliances, or periodic bills. - Yes

I amortize annual expenses over 12 months for budgeting purposes (I apply the same principle to other periodic expenses too, for example quarterly expenses are amortized over 3 months). - No

I record all my expenses (or have an accurate record of expenses through bank statements or the like). - Yes

Before I created my budget, I monitored my expenses over a few months to figure out what I spend. - Yes

I review my budget regularly for effectiveness and modify as needed. - Yes

My savings plan is an expense that is part of my budget. - Yes

Extra money like pay raises, bonuses, and tax refunds go directly into savings or to pay off debt. - Yes

Gifts and charitable donations are part of my budget. - Yes

If I anticipate that I’ll go over the budget in one category, I find the money from another category that month. - Yes

I have financial padding built into my budget for flexibility (and sanity). - Yes

I have allowances in my budget for unexpected expenses. - Yes

Holiday season festivities and birthday gifts don’t throw me off budget. - Yes

I know how much money I live on each month/year. - Yes

I balance my chequebook so I don’t go into overdraft. - Yes

I can account for all my spending. - Yes

I live within my means. - Yes

I don’t charge anything to my credit card unless I can pay it off in full by the due date. - Yes(No Credit Cards)

I pay all my bills on time. - Yes

My income is larger than my expenses. - Yes

Budget Lifestyle
I don’t allow myself to feel pressured by peers to spend money that I don’t have. - Yes

I don’t buy caviar (for example) unless it’s in the budget – even if it is on sale for half price. - No

I view my budget as a way to figure out what I CAN afford, instead of what I CAN’T. - Yes

I have a positive goal or vision to keep in mind (like being debt-free, or having a vacation) for times when the budget is tight or I start to feel deprived. - Yes

I budget for small rewards to keep me on track and motivated. - Yes

Everybody in the family participates in the budgeting process. - No

I had few NO's but still I scored well, how about you?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Frugality is In

I am tracking my everyday expenditure since 2003; I know this is not news for few of you. In all these years, I used to share my little know-how of budgeting and tracking with my friends, but never until last year anyone esteemed or discussed this with me. All I used to hear from them were downbeat things about tracking and budgeting. "Is it worth to waste that much time on these things?" was one of the most common comments. I hardly got any affirmation on my frugal ideas.

Not anymore. In last 3 months, 4 of my colleagues and friends have sought my support because all of the sudden they have realized that they have so little nest egg, so less assets, and how their expenses are sky rocketing in this uncertain economy. I have helped them by encouraging them to read more about personal finance, by sending them my favorite links about this topic, by helping them come up with their tracking spreadsheets. All of them came back to me after one month sharing that they never knew they spent so much monthly, an eye opener for them.

Now they don't pass any opportunity to share their new frugal idea with whole group and most of the times when they ask me how I found it, I reply that its brilliant idea and it works because I am actually following it from last XXX years.

No, I am not claiming that I am a personal finance expert or anything like that. I still consider myself novice in the field and try to learn about new things. All I want to say that frugality, cutting down cost, saving money; this all has been new craze around me. I never saw people being so enthusiastic about penny-pinching. In fact few of my colleagues have transformed from "I don't like discussing money, it's just so cheap" to "you know I changed my phone from post-paid to pre-paid and it saved me XXX Rs."

My concern here is how long this new craze will last. Will this new bragging ever stop? Or should I get accustomed to this?

How about you? Have you seen similar change around you or are you one of them who changed their habits to frugal recently?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Savings across the generations

Savings patterns have changed tremendously over a period of time. I still hear stories from my older generation how they started saving and investing as soon as they started jobs, a pattern that I find missing in today's generation, including me.

One senior member of my family proudly preaches how he bought his first investment, a small shop, within 2 years of his job. And over the period of time when he retired, he owned four residential and commercial properties.

I have also heard numerous stories from one other family member that how they managed to build two houses and educate and marry all of their three kids in single-income family.

Of course both of them will accept it that while they were fulfilling their duties and building wealth, they never owned fancy things. Cars used to be rare commodity at that time. Kids were not studying in fancier schools. Family members were not wearing fancy most clothes and no they might not take a vacation every year. Theirs attitude is what I’ll say "Saving's First" attitude.

Cut to generation X. As soon as we get the job, we want to buy a new car. By the time car loan is half paid, lucky one's will get married. After marriage comes luxurious travelling for next few years. After two-three years, planning for future starts, which includes owning a house and having a family. Now if one starts working at the age of 24, it's at age of 29-30 when one is thinking of buying a house. That home loan might take 5-10 years for repayment or even more depending on how diligently you want to finish it ASAP. By that time you are near or in your Forties. At that point, concerns for retirement and kid’s future may arise. This is the stage in financial life where I have personally seen most of people regretting. I still remember when my manager who was in her early forties once commented to me that "You are quite wise and smart to start investing when I am still in my mid-twenties. I used to splurge all my money on eating-out when I was your age." This attitude is what I'll say "Spending's First" attitude.

I am not trying to advocate any kind of lifestyle here. I am absolutely OK with both kinds of lifestyles. But I have a suggestion to all the youths who are starting on their careers. Having a decent lifestyle is absolutely acceptable. Go and buy a car, buy a new Cell Phone and new PS3. But try to save some portion of your salary every month. Saving 10% of your salary will not hurt your lifestyle much, but can save you a heart attack in your forties.

What about you? What kind of lifestyle do you have? "Saving's first" or "Spending's First" attitude?

I am so so confused :(

I am confused :(

Ok, here is the story, this time mine, not a fiction one as in here.

I am not happy in my current job. I am working at this place for almost five years now; to be precise I will be completing 5 years in this August. I have got bad hike from last two years, not because I didn't performed, but because of low dollar cost one year, and recession the other year. Even this year picture is very gloomy. The division where I used to work, the work that I used to love, has been sold off last year. Almost all of us had been absorbed somewhere else in my company, I must confess a very genuine effort on their part, and they could have given us pink slip. I got moved in last mid-November. I do not like my new work. I hate it so so much. Everyday when I get up in the morning I feel like bunking my office. :(

Sad story, right? I made up my mind that I had to do something about all this. I started giving interviews and now I got an offer. This is second offer that I had got this time around. First one was almost OK other then they were calling me for almost same salary I am getting now. I refused without a blink.

Now, today I got another offer. They are again offering me almost same salary plus involve relocation. They are, yes, offering me a promotion, something that I don't see anywhere in my near future in my current company. They have the work that I want to do, I hope so.

Lots of things point out that this offer is bad and I should reject it too, but some part of me says that I should take it. Situation is something like, here it’s sure bad and there it's possible to be bad. :(

I am not sure what shall I do? I think I need to weigh in lots of things and do lots of calculation and brainstorming before I can come to some conclusion. Oh GOD, please guide me. Please.

I can't promise you that I'll do what you will suggest, but if you understand my dilemmas please feel free to drop some lines, to motivate me, to guide me, something.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tracking every penny spend

One of my best friends recently asked me why I am so obsessed about tracking. Yes I can actually tell how much I spent on tea when I was in my college and so on.

I do this because seeing my tracking equips me with the knowledge of my exact financial status. This in turn leads to good money habits and power to take informed financial decisions in my life. After I got married I took the responsibility of managing our joint finances. My disciplined money habits helped us in surviving a pay cut of my DH, critical illness of my MIL, setting up a new home, buying new car, all in two years of our marriage.

We would never have survived financially if I had debt or not had savings to survive in these testing times. I used my good money habits to take care of my family during tough economy.

My suggestion to all of my blogging friends, "start tracking!". It will be a record book of all your wise money decisions and not-so-good money decisions. It will teach you a lot about your spending habits, and will also serve as motivator and teacher in future.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

relationships or charity talks??

"This is the greatest mistake that people do when they meet love...they try to posses it, they demand, they expect... and just like the water spilling out of your hand, love will retrieve from you"

These are the lines from one of the fwded mails fwded to me by one of the good friends.
It was some article by Swami Vivekananda.

Actually I am writing this because I didn't agree with these words.

What I believe in is if you do something for someone and don't expect anything in return then its not a relationship, but thats called a charity. Relationship is a two way function and according to me relationship is as strong as you expect both parties to participate in it. If there are no expectations, there is no possesiveness, then is it truly any relationship! Well, I doubt.

Be it any relationship, there is always a selfish angle to it. A mother loves her child and expects her children to love her and respect her back. Friends love you because they expect you to accept them. Spouse or romantic parter probably expect emotional security.

If there is no expectation back, belive me that thing is junk in your life. There is a rule that says until all your basic needs are not fulfilled, you can't do charity. And i think the rule applies in relationships too.

But I will say, expect and give alot in any relationship. Thats what gives the strength to the relationship. Leave charity for later half of your life

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are you Frugal or Miser?

I am a frugal person and kind of proud of it too. But one thing I know for sure is that I am not a miser.

I never compromise on a thing which matters to me. For example, if I or my loved ones need medical help I'll really never compromise on good doctors for cost. I only wear flat sandals and can't bear heels. I never ever compromise and buy a cheap sandal and compromise on comfort of my feet. I love pampering my near-dear ones with best gifts I can find. Cost doesn't come in picture.

I know that I am blessed enough to be in position to do all said above. Yes I don't have unlimited money to splurge on every thing, but it doesn't mean that I am struggling with my everyday needs too. By almighty's grace I am lucky enough to have food, clothes and house. I know that I love to splurge on nice clothes, hence I cut corner at places which doesn't matter to me.

I think that's the whole essence of being frugal. You should save money on things that doesn't matter to you. Do deals comparison; do price matching, compromise on quality for cost at places that doesn't matter. And you should splurge on things and places which are utmost important to you.

Rather, if you are always saving money, all decisions are only dictated by saving money, then you are not frugal, you are MISER. You being frugal don’t mean that you should make your partner's or family member's life miserable too.You want to save money doesn't mean that your wife should not buy few new clothes.

I never ever want to be a miser and then regret when I am old that I have all the money but diabetes, bad body, heart problem, and hence now I can't splurge on food or clothes. I like to enjoy my life today, in moderation, save for tomorrow in moderation. Extreme frugality is also not good my friend.

What about you? Are you a spender, frugal person or a miser?