Expenses / Living life / Musings

Frugal Living vs Spending Money

Most of the blogs on Financial Independence and Early Retirement have some inputs on living frugally and saving more. Is the FS family also on the same bandwagon? Well let’s have a look at the major expenses that we have data available for

  1. House: We are staying on rent. This is a 2BHK fully furnished house. We have cable.
  2. Car: We bought a new car more than a year back. Would a car at a lower price range satisfied all our needs? Yes.
  3. Travel: I travel by taxi to office. We travel by plane when we visit our home – both in opposite directions from where we stay now
  4. Eating Out: On an average we eat out at least once every 2 weeks
  5. Entertainment: We buy a lot of books both Ebooks for Kindle and paperbacks
  6. Groceries: We do not look around to see the cheaper options. We buy from where it is convenient for us
  7. Vegetables: We buy once a week for the week. We again do not track prices to buy more when it is cheaper.

From the list above it does not like we are part of the consumerists. Fear not. We spend less in our own way.

House:

We understood it is cheaper to stay on rent and decided not to follow the consumerists and buy a house. We will be investing in real estate though. Will share details later when the time is more appropriate. When we were married, I was staying outside India with the Mrs. in Mumbai. Both of us were staying as a PG and had no possessions other than our clothes. The Mrs. joined me for a year before we decided to relocate to Mumbai. At that point we were looking to buy a house within a year, so renting a fully furnished house seemed best.

This is the 3rd house we have stayed in, in Mumbai. We rented a 2BHK since we hoped our parents would visit us often. But that hope hasn’t transpired and we will soon move to a new 1BHK house. This should reduce our rent. We might even decide to rent a semi or an unfurnished house to save money – TBD.

We do have TV at home and a cable connection from a local cable provider for 250/month. This is very cheap compared to Airtel or Tata and the service has been good. Except for 3 days across 8 months we have had uninterrupted service of all channels including HD – this includes all Sports, Hindi and English (both sitcom and movie) channels and all regional channels too. An unbeatable price for this package. For the channels we watch I estimate a saving of at least 250/month based on what my parents pay on TataSky.

We have a broadband internet at home since I mostly work from home – again from the local provider. This costs about 500/month. This service has caused some minor inconveniences, but we have managed to work around those. We would choose to go with them again since we save another 200 or so a month.

Our electricity bills are also lower. We use AC only while sleeping and never have it below 25. Both of us do not sleep well when it is too cold and generally switch off the AC after it has run for an hour. On seriously hot nights the AC might run for about 6 hours. This means that even with the higher cost this year our peak bill was about 1600 this year( I forget which month). Normal months I tend to use the fan for about 6 hours in the day and overnight with the broadband router on unless we are sleeping. I like bathing in cold water so have not used the water heater other than for a few days in September.

Eating Out & Entertainment:

I believe we eat out less frequently than normal, and when we eat out we try to find places that generally cost about 800 for 2 people. Since we don’t drink alcohol it is easy for us to find a lot of options in that price range. We generally try to find new places to go to even if the cuisines might repeat.

We don’t watch movies that often. Even when there are specific movies that we want to watch we do not opt for the opening weekend. We wait until prices are lower than 200 per person. The last theater we went to was must lower priced for similar service – about 120 per person. This will be one we will visit a lot. Using bookmyshow has helped us the last couple of times. We got coupons with about 15% discount on restaurants near the theaters and used them happily.

Books:

We have very few hobbies and reading is one of them. The Mrs. has a couple of daily shows that she likes to watch whereas I like to read. So we spend money on books –  mostly fiction. But we buy only when there is sale on both online or brick and mortar stores. We liked Bargain Book and have bought 4 books both times we were there. Mrs. found a store with a clearance sale and bought 7 books in 1 go.

Groceries & Vegetables:

We get our milk as required from the kirana store near home. Same goes for the dosa mix, eggs and bread. We found reliance stores always have a sales on for frozen peas and curd. Other than that we generally buy vegetables in the roadside market near home. The vegetables are generally fresh and as cheap if not cheaper than in supermarkets. We used to order groceries from BigBasket since we don’t visit malls often and there is no supermarket near home. We do not spend a lot and the savings in BigBasket are satisfactory. I will have to search to see if someone has compared the different stores before I can say if we can save more by buying from a different store. But unless the savings translate to more than 100/month we will continue with our current behaviour.

Car & Travel:

We could have not bought a car and used Uber or Ola to travel within the city. We used the car for 2 long out of city trips and most only on the weekends within the city. So it does not cost much to run. As mentioned earlier I mostly work from home and travel to office only once a week. I walk for 10 minutes to cross the highway before I get a taxi. This saves about INR40 and the trip cost comes to about 160 depending on traffic. I normally get a lift part way from some office colleague while returning and take a bus from there costing me just 10/trip. I could take a bus + walk + take a share cab in the morning too and save about 100 on the onward trip, but prefer a more comfortable journey since it is just once a week.

Other expenses:

We do not buy clothes often and when we do, it is only when they are on sale. Over the last 3 years I have spent money on only 4 clothes other than inner wear. This is because I got a lot of gifts – about 7 shirts and 2 trousers during my wedding. There were just the cloth and I saved them and stitched when I needed them. The Mrs. spends a little more frequently than me, but that was because most of the clothes she had before wedding were old and needed replacement anyway. I would say we are below average spenders though not frugal.

Verdict:

We do not spend only when spending makes us uncomfortable rather than force ourselves to opt for a lower priced option. Even though we can save even more money if we spend more time, we  do not want to make money the first checkpoint in all our decisions. We still manage to meet our savings target comfortable and have enough left over to meet emergencies. The final verdict is that the FS Family is not frugal but comfortable on the way to Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

Leave a Reply