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“Frugal” need not necessarily mean cheap or having to skimp on the little luxuries of life. All it means is that we live with some financial discipline and have the ability to maximise the return on every rupee we spend. It may feel awkward to carry homemade lunch everywhere, but you will be the one laughing when you go on that solo trip across Europe with the money you save.

We will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this year. In the first year of our marriage, we were really living the life. Partying, impulse shopping, buying each other stuff we did not really need. But soon, when I conceived, the rose-tinted glasses had to come off and we decided to calm down and take stock of our finances.

Discipline

The first thing we did was discipline ourselves. We figured out how much money we need to save every month and then tried to come up with a game-plan that allowed us to live the way we want to within what was left over.

Budgeting

This we did by budgeting. The maximum expenditure we realised was on food and entertainment – whether eating at home or out. The necessities were electricity and fuel. So this is where we started making changes. Car-pooling and using the metro helped. Remembering childhood dictates of putting off the light and fan on leaving the room we made it a habit. The air-conditioning was kept at 25 degrees C. Reducing our energy consumption also made us feel like responsible citizens.

Eat out every week – frugally

While eating out, the biggest expense is liquor. So drink at home before heading out is a tip I would give everyone. Eating at fancy places is expensive. One way of enjoying the ambience of the latest place without burning a hole in your pocket is to order from the appetizer menu. You will be able to sample more of the food and still pay less than if you were ordering appetizers and mains.

Virtual food shopping

Online grocery shopping options translate to saving money, time and stress and you end up doing less impulse buying. You order only what you need and not what looks attractive in the shop. You also benefit from offers and freebies.

My kitchen garden

It does not matter if you have no space – even your balcony can yield a good crop if you plant vegetables in pots or crates. Apart from saving money, you will also be guaranteed pure, pesticide-free produce. So simple stuff like lemongrass, fenugreek, coriander can all be grown easily at home.

Don’t be late

One thing we realised early on was that paying a late fee on any bill is like throwing away money.  Pay your bills on time – whether it is electricity, water, EMI on any loan, credit card bills or even the annual house tax.

Stay on-trend through sales

Never pay full price for anything. Wait for the sales. Most international brands have genuine sales. Not just for clothes – we bought luggage at a  sale where suitcases worth Rs 10,000 plus were on offer for half the price.

For the baby

Everyone wants the best for their child. But spending on a fancy pram is such a waste. Buy previously-owned baby items like a pram, harness, crib. I got my nephew’s cot for my baby and passed on her pram to another cousin when they had a baby.  A lot of people I know are practising this these days and it saves a huge lot of money for a lot of people.

Invest it

Now that we are able to save money, we have also let go of our inertia and are actively maintaining an investment portfolio. We called in the professionals to help us build a balanced portfolio with some safe investments and some mildly risky ones. You can get on board Basis by downloading the app from play store and get professional help planning your portfolio at the click of a button.

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