7 Ways In Which I Have Saved Money

With less than 2 weeks to go for the year to end, wherever you look at the internet especially in the blogosphere, there are enough and more pointers on how this is one of the best times to reflect on the year gone by. Well, I took that advice very seriously and decided to do just that.

In July this year, my husband finally decided to ditch corporate life and start his own one-man marketing agency. However, if a couple decides to take a such a big step with huge monetary ramifications, the planning and the steps to smoothen that journey have to start at least a few months prior to really taking that plunge.

We had a lot of discussions about it, back and forth. There was even a white-boarding session to see what the household costs are and how they would have to be managed in one fixed salary. As a ground rule, we decided that we would not cut corners to the extent that it ends up making either of us miserable.

Today, while reflecting on the year gone by, I thought of enumerating some of the ways in which we have managed to bring down our costs. The reason I am sharing this is the fact that a lot of us want to start our own venture but the possible initial financial strain weighs us down. I hope this post gives wings to many more nascent entrepreneurial dreams, which can then go full flight.

  1. Home Loan: As a bank employee, as a part of my salary package I was entitled to a staff Home Loan which was available at 4%. If the loan amount is above the possible staff loan amount, the incremental amount is given out at market interest rates.
    Whoever tells you that transferring a home loan is easy shit, sock them one from my side. Click To Tweet
    No, I am serious. For almost an year, I did not move my butt to get all the paperwork and the multiple bank branch visits that were required to move my Home Loan. But, in the end it was worth it as I end up saving a pretty tidy amount (even though the benefit is taxable :-/).

2. Gym: For a long time the word gym has been synonymous with “boring” for me. Then in July last year (2016) I discovered a premium gym. What really drew me to it were the amazing classes and the very different equipment like TRX, Plyo boxes, kettle bell and the works. The service was great too because as soon as you entered you would be greeted with a set of amazing smelling towels and the crowd was pretty good.

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Ditching my fancy gym for a basic FREE gym in office has proved to be a big money saver

The irony of my decision? In the first week and my second class I had a bad recurring knee injury that took months to rehabilitate. While I was still using the gym, I wasn’t able to use any of the heavy-duty classes. Over the months, I got into a routine and really started enjoying my time at the gym, even without the fascinating classes.

The problem though? The gym used to cost me Rs. 7,140 (~$110)  per month! It was also not walking distance and it meant Rs. 100 ($1.5) by cab every day. If I went to the gym even for 15 days of the month, I ended up spending Rs. 1,500 ($23) just on getting to my gym. That is a grand total of Rs. 8640 ($133) per month or over Rs. 1 Lakh (~$1540) in an year. But I was quite attached to my gym. For a long time, our calculations included this gym cost as is. Then one January morning, when I walked into the gym for a workout I was told that the women’s shower room would not be available for 10 days and they couldn’t care less about the fact that I did not get any communication from them (apparently, they did not have my email ID or phone number).

I realised that if, even after paying through my nose I cannot be guaranteed proper service, why indeed am I paying that much? Click To Tweet

I gave my notice to the gym and decided to try using the FREE gym in my office. Sure, I had to carry the extra towel and the bathrooms were not that fancy with no provision of hot water. But two things worked in my favour – the cost (or no cost really) obviously and the convenience of it. I no longer needed to keep rushing or spending much more time in traffic.

3. Daily commute: In over 2 years of my commute of about 11 km in Mumbai, I have experimented with the regular black-and-yellow cabs as well as the radio cabs. As soon as the radio cabs started charging their much higher fixed fares, I made the move to the black-and-yellow cab.

Just last month, I decided to experiment with the Mumbai local train, thanks to the company of a new team member and neibhour. I realised that I did not find it as terrible as the horror stories in my head. So, now on most evenings, a commute which would otherwise often cost me over Rs. 200 ($3.10) costs me simply Rs. 5 (8 cents). While my morning commute remains unchanged, I am yet to cover an entire month of using the train for my evening commute. But, it could easily mean a saving of anywhere between Rs.3000-Rs. 4000 ($46-$62) per month. It ends up making quite a difference to my budget sheet.

4. Magazines: When we shifted to this house in December 2015, I went a little crazy and subscribed to hard copies of 3 magazines for an year each. The husband simply subscribed to a digital magazine service and said that he wasn’t really into hard copies of magazines. An year down the line, I realised that the magazines were really piling up and so was my guilt about not being able to read them.
This year, I ditched my obsession with holding on to the magazine and went digital, saving on money, paper and guilt. Click To Tweet

5. Books: I am a voracious reader. I like reading atleast 2 books at a time and for years now I generally carry one around with me in the handbag. While I am ok with e-books, I have not been able to tear myself away from the feel of paper and actually flipping the pages on my books. In the initial few years of working, I used to order new books online like crazy. In the years of living in a Paying Guest facility with barely enough room for me and my room mate, I would simply off-load all these books in the rack in my house in Delhi. This year I discovered 2 delightful stages in which my experience with books remained steadfast and the cost shot down by quite a bit.

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My quest to save money has come with  rediscovery of the joys of a library membership

It all started when the library in my office was shutting down. They organized a first-cum-first-serve takeaway of books with voluntary donation to the charity arm of the bank. Not one to miss such an opportunity, I bagged quite a bounty and was one of the more generous ones with my contribution. The office replaced the library with an online book borrowing service, where borrow licences are rarely available.

However, my experience above instilled in me a thrill for the treasure hunt of grabbing great second-hand books and I found two more events which gave me the opportunity to exercise this option.

I am no longer in the hunt for good second-hand book haunts. I realised that I live close to a very low-cost great value library – part of the American Consulate. So, a few months back I went in and enrolled there for a princely sum of Rs. 400 ($7) for the entire year!

6. Entertainment: We tried having cable TV in our place but eventually realised that we hated the shouting matches posing as daily news or the pretty horrible programming options on most channels.

We decided to cut off the cable and substitute it with Amazon Prime (which we got for an year at a steal of Rs. 500 or $8.5) and Netflix. While Netflix is the more expensive of the two, we share as a part-user with 3 other friends which gets our cost down substantially.

Not only did we end up saving money on the cable subscription, we have also decided to now go out for a movie to the theatre only if it is something which is better seen on a large screen or with better acoustics. For instance, a movie like Avatar or Inception. For all else, there’s Prime or Netflix.

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Zomato Gold membership has helped us save quite a bit on our eating out costs

7. Zomato Gold: A new loyalty program, Zomato Gold allows subscribers to get 1+1 on food or 2+2 on drinks at select partners at a nominal cost. Surprisingly, they tried it out in Dubai and Portugal before launching it in India. I had pre-registered for the service without really knowing what it was. With a 25% discount coupon code, I paid Rs. 750 (~$12) to get an annual subscription, about 6 weeks back. Within this period, the service has already saved us more than what we paid for it. The 1+1 on food is what we have tried at multiple restaurants and have always been impressed with the rule of getting the 2nd highest priced dish on the bill free of cost.

The best part about these small ways in which I am saving money? It is not feeling like an unbearable burden or a pinch. Only with a lot of thought did I realize some of the frugal measure that have crept in. Am I able to put all these savings in one place, not spend them and see it grow? Not yet. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day either. At least, I am getting to building a foundation 🙂

What about you? Have there been any such measures that you have taken, which without really hurting have meant money saved? Let me know in the comments or email me at aparna@elementummoney.com

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