A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

To love what you have

Posted by Pepper on May 21, 2014

Comfort and convenience are the two main factors that compel me to drive to work everyday. But each trip I make to office is awfully expensive. My everyday drive from the suburbs to the city costs me an arm and a leg. At one time, Mint’s company had a fuel reimbursement policy. They no longer have that policy in place. The price of fuel in India is outrageous. Since we are trying to implement some serious cost cutting measures, I have been trying to take the bus to office. And it has been a big struggle.

The first day, I succeeded in waiting at the bus stop for around ten minutes. The heat was making me wilt. I tried to hold on to my resolve, but before I knew it, I was walking back to my car. It was too hot to travel by bus, I told myself. The second day, my endurance limit was a notch higher and I waited at the bus stop for around 15 minutes. The one bus that came was extremely crowded. I considered pushing myself through the door and jostling through the crowd, all along dodging sweaty armpits. But then a closer view of the very overcrowded bus made me give up. I walked back to my beloved car and  breathed a sigh of relief as I turned on the AC on full blast. Phew. I want my space.I want my comfort. But can I really afford it?

I realise I am being a brat. A big brat. Apart from what these trips to work cost me, I should be more worried about my impact on the environment and my carbon footprint. After all, I have no excuse. Unlike other western countries, public transport is easily available here. So my solo drives do make me feel guilty, for both economical and ecological reasons. But not guilty enough to brave the heat and the ever present throngs in trains and buses. I am too used to the air conditioned comfort of my car.

I see millions of people in this city going through hardships without as much as a sigh. The heat, sweat, crowded local trains, the pushing, shoving and squabbles are a part of their life. At one time, they were a part of my life too. I knew how to make my way into a very crowded train before it came to a grinding halt. No easy feat, that one. Yet, I could do it with a great level of skill. I don’t know what happened to me and at what point I got this used to luxury and comfort. The thought of entering a local train at peak hour terrifies me now.

I suppose it was our spending pattern. It reflects in our lifestyle so far. We chose to spend more and save less. We dined at expensive restaurants without thinking about it too much. We employed help to manage all our cooking and cleaning. We traveled. We never missed our yearly trip to a foreign location. We indulged ourselves when we felt like it. But now, I realise we can’t live like that anymore.

Buying this house has been a bigger stretch for us than I can let on. Almost all our collective earning will be routed to our EMI. When I think of it, I realise our EMI is massive. What we are left with at the end of the month is a VERY meager sum. And how we will manage to run a home in that amount is beyond me. Because we are simply not used to frugal living. Perhaps we can lower our standards and manage running a home, but it certainly doesn’t leave much space for too many frivolities. And that is a fact I simply have to come to terms with.

I want to learn to live on a tight budget. I want to accustom myself to the hardships. I want to be more cautious of our energy consumption every month, even if it means using the AC sparingly as opposed to having it on the whole night. I want to be the kind who is aware of the current tomato prices. Heck, I want to even be the one who freezes tomatoes when they are cheap. I want to be the one who chooses a particular brand because it offers an additional free purchase. I want to learn to save our money instead of choosing to spend it on far away travel (I know this will be the hardest). All in all, I want to change my mindset. All of this calls for a major attitude shift.

I’ve heard people question the logic of buying a home at our age. Why burden yourselves, why not live freely, they ask. To all of them, I have only one thing to say. We did it now because we saw no hope or scope of doing it later. The prices only seem to keep going up. If we’re struggling so much now, buying property later may just be impossible for us. So might as well get done with our share of struggle now. Ofcourse, not everybody may agree with this line of thought. There is no ‘right’ way of looking at it. Different strokes for different folks.

They say EMIs are romance killers. I can see why that notion is so popular. It is easy to fuel romance when you have the money. When you can afford candle lit dinners, holidays on pristine beaches and aromatic couple spa packages. But those obsolete ideas aside, I think it is entirely possible to feel romantic even when you return home drenched in sweat after a long day. Sweaty hugs only reiterate the love you share. Or when you let out a mutual sigh on seeing the grocery bill for the month. Your togetherness is visible in strange ways. EMIs not withstanding.

So here it is. Cheers to my very different and new life. *Clink*

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38 Responses to “To love what you have”

  1. You have made a very very good decision about buying your own place. I also did that a year back and i am telling you it is a great investment. Hi five!
    About your monthly spending, welcome to the frugal club. Lol. I have one trick. Close your eyes super tight and pray to all 33 crore gods to give you one rupee each. I am working on it.

  2. One of the property agent told us this line – “Always remember, the only right time to buy a house/property was yesterday” what he meant was the prices of properties will only go up. He was so true pepper, the price of our land has gone up by 150k AUD in just 10 months, can you believe it?? I cannot. Now PK & I think we made a correct decision rather than waiting for few more years.

    One more positive thing is Pepper, your EMIs will remain almost same for years but not your income, it will rise, right?? So enjoy your new life as it will change again in couple of years 🙂

    • Pepper said

      That’s what we say to ourselves too. The EMI will not rise. Our salaries will (hopefully). So the real struggle will only be for the next 3-5 yrs. Let’s see how things go 🙂

  3. Pepper, I can relate to this so much. We moved to NYC about 5 months ago and as expected we are spending a large chunk of our paychecks on rent and reliable child care . So we have been forced to adopt the frugal lifestyle too. Oh and we moved from Texas where the cost of living is so much lesser! So I still am not a pro at it but I do know now where the cheese is the cheapest and I am ready to walk 5 blocks to get it. We have no cable and except for sports , we hardly miss it.We have cut down a lot on eating out though it is really , really hard for us to cut out completely as we are major foodies and now are in a city with such lovely restaurants calling our name. We hardly ever take a cab around the city if we can help it and walk a ton instead and take the subway when we have to. We used to travel during every long weekend holiday here plus do an India trip annually but now I am in the process of canceling a mini vacation we had set up for July after seeing the bills from our recent vacation this month. So we not completely there but have made some serious lifestyle changes and are learning to embrace it. We have miles to go, of course and have plenty of scope to cut other costs. Also unlike EMIs, we don’t expect to be here longer than a few years so I tell myself its temporary! Sorry for the terribly long comment. Have fun with this monthly challenge and keep giving us updates on how you are doing with the changes.

    • Pepper said

      I can *totally* imagine your expenses and the sharp increase after your move to NYC from Texas. So happy to know you guys are getting along.
      I know we are really going to find it hard to cut down on eating out. But I also know that has to be done. We just can’t afford it anymore. Thanks, hopefully the challenge will be fun and I will keep the blog updated.

      PS – I love long comments.

  4. R's Mom said

    Sigh! Facts of life

    Paying of an EMI is a never ending pain…And its good you guys decided to invest in a house now..because later means making it more difficult…Yep..we all went through the curbing one’s expenses issue, but you just get used to it eh? Dont get too worked up about it..eventually you will know how to save money and where….if not, contact RD :):)

  5. Boiling said

    I can understand your need to be frugal but i would disagree with you being a brat because you prefer your car. Yes, hundreds of people are living and travelling in more hardship but most of them given a chance would drive a car, right? They are doing it because they do not have a choice. How many people do you know, who can afford a car but still prefer going by train unless they don’t like traffic or driving.

    Yes, mumbai has good public transport but we do get used to certain standards living abroad. The public transport is not with AC. It is not always frequent (okay maybe the local trains are but on an average). I have experienced very crowded trains/buses here as well with no space to get in but at least it is cleaner and with AC. I would like the same for India. To me, I don’t get why India cannot have the same facilities?

    If I have to cut, I would cut on eating out, shopping and travelling.

    I feel people can buy a house whenever they want to and if you are sure you are going to settle in a particular city, then why not earlier that later?

    • Pepper said

      I love your comment, Boiling! I think you were able to sum it up really well. I find it so hard to travel by trains and buses after I experienced the comforts living abroad. I should stop beating myself over that.
      I was hardly into shopping. But eating out and traveling have to go!

      Oh btw, I am sure not sure we will ‘settle’ in Mumbai. I have no idea where we will. We could have put off buying a home until we knew where we would settle, but chances are we won’t know for a long, long time. So we thought we might as well invest where we currently live. If we move, we can think of what we want to do with this property.

  6. yoges said

    Wow..I can so relate to this post. We have been living quite leisurely. Holidays abroad once a year and multiple mini holidays and lots of eating out that cost senseless amount of money. With one child at home being taken care by my mom, we could afford all these and more. But then I conceived our second child and it turns out to be twins and BAMMM, everything changes. As it means now we can’t simply hire a maid to help my mom at home; we are looking for a good childcare centre (I work fulltime). For one new baby, yeah it’s still okay but doubling up the amount is simply throwing our bugdet off. This besides the $$$ we want to set aside for our toddler’s playschool next year. And we have signed up for a house too which costs triple of what our current rental is at the moment. So I’m looking into cutting off unnecessary expenses too. I think it will be do-able though it will pain me greatly if we were to cut down on our holidays. Sigh.

    • Pepper said

      Oops. Raising 3 kids must be very expensive! To add to it, you’ve signed up for a house. I am sure it will be a crunch, but how we sail through depends on us. Partially atleast. I relate to the pain of cutting down holidays, though. Hopefully, we’ll learn to find joy in inexpensive things 🙂

  7. Sri said

    Hey Pepper..

    Just felt a bit sad reading this post..just want to give you a hug..buying your home is the best thing you guys have done..you will realise the value after a few years, trust me..hubby and me wanted to go on a dream honeymoon to Switzerland but seeing the cost, we decided to go to Darjeeling and Gangtok..we had a wonderful time…don’t worry..there is always a solution…if you love travel, it is fine..there are lots of places in India too..we have visited 4 places in Kerala in the past 3 years..every holiday was fun…we traveled by train to cut costs..3AC is perfectly fine..

    • Pepper said

      Thanks for the hug, Sri! I know, there is always an alternate solution. Let me add though, holidays in India are also *very expensive*. Infact, sometimes I think foreign holidays prove cheaper. Most destinations aborad have safe/reliable hostels and such. In India, we have no choice but to put up in hotels. I wouldn’t trust the hostels here. Sigh..

      I really want to visit Kerela! Hoping it happens sometime.. 🙂 3AC is more than perfect, only if tickets are available!

  8. ferret said

    Cheers to your new life! and who knows you might start cooking and baking and being home bodies and loving it 🙂
    ps: i’m tempted to say ‘first world problems!’ but then i’m in the same boat as you guys. Just waiting for this year to get over ‘coz then one big emi will be gone from our lives and i can visit my favorite restaurants guilt free!!

    • Pepper said

      That’s great Ferret! Atleast you will be done with it by the end of this year. Our loan is for around 25 years! I hope that’s not how long we have to live frugally for. 🙂

  9. Deepa said

    Amen to that Pepper. I just clinked my flute of apple juice to yours. We’ll leave the champagne for more prosperous time. Your’s and mine, both:-)

    You know what is a good partner to frugality? A good sense of humor. Worked in our case and now works for present trying times too. I’m sure you know that though already.

  10. ashreyamom said

    All the best.. I have tried many a times to do cost cutting, sometimes impulse takes over mind.. why dont u try car pooling, in case u and ur colleagues live in same area??

  11. Thisisme said

    u know what…i can completely understand ur situation! I m still single and have already invested in 3 houses..just coz they were avialble cheap back then …and i must say even though the property is still WIP..its already giving me 200% returns..but all that is on papers! The truth is I m paying Massive EMIs and especially when EMIs start..u go thru this phase where u feel the pinch a lot and hence think n worry about spending too much! expensive dining which i was into heavily,,came to a stop…n what not! the only thing i dint compromise is my clothes n my food n my car…rest i just cut down on my expenses! I used to spend a fortune on commuting…petrol costs n what not..n u need AC all the time in delhi..but its was luck that i got shifted to office location which was a stones throw away from my house and that really HELPED a lot!!

    after sometime, u will get used to this Massive EMI and u will be fine n back to enjoying life 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Wait.. what did you say? Sorry, I really can’t get myself to read beyond the first few lines. You’ve invested in 3 houses on a single income?! That is.. unbelievable. I didn’t think that was even possible! Wow! I am sure the EMIs are worth it 🙂

      • Thisisme said

        🙂 thats wjat everyone says to me! that too esp being a girl..every1 around me thinks i m crazy to take up this much on my platter..n my income isnt even that great! i just abt manage but my pt is simple…jab tak banega i will keep all the houses but the day i feel its getting too much ..i will simply sell one of them and repay all my loans..the good thing about buying property intelligently is in a matter of few yrs it doubles/triples its original costs and Wham! ur cost is recovered very well! 🙂 so thats y i love investing in them!
        also, it gives me a very strong sense of security! esp being single ,..i feel its all the more so imp for me to have my own abode!

  12. S said

    . . .but you have a beautiful house that is yours! And so close to your parent’s place. Must feel like a grown-up owning a house, no? 🙂 cutting costs must be painful, but it will make the indulgences more special. When you watch a movie and go out for dinner every week, it becomes a routine. But when you do it only once a month, it becomes special, isn’t it? 🙂 like how they say distance makes heart grow fonder..

    i am sure you see the silver lining. wish you all the best, pepper 🙂

    • Pepper said

      So true, S! Buying this house has made us feel really grown up.
      And you’re absolutely right about the indulgences being more special when they are reserved for special occasions.

  13. Ranjini said

    Like every other good or not-so-good phase, this one shall pass too. So, hang in there.
    Enjoy your new life while it lasts 🙂

  14. MR said

    you guys are young and now is the right time ot buy, as you grow older your career will also grow an dyour income will increase ( so will the expenses 🙂 ) but IMO the 20’s were our poorest time, now we are towards the end of our load and with considerable high pays and no childcare issues ( not much) and no health issue ( touch wood). so no you wont be this frugal always it’s just a few yrs and then this too shall pass.

  15. I think you guys make the perfect decision to buy a house now. For me, owning a house is probably one of the most essential things, i think it makes me feel more secure to know i have my own place to live. Of course, having to pay off the loan will not be a joyride. But i think, all the pains and inconveniences will be totally worth it if at the end of the day you have your own place to come back home to!

    • Pepper said

      Owning a home does make me feel secure too, but you know I really wonder if it is a false sense of security. Because you only own the home on paper. Our loan is so huge.. and until that is cleared, I wonder if we can really call the house our ‘own’. But i guess that is just me nit picking. Like my parents say – atleast all the appreciation is ours!

  16. Jazz said

    Aww hugs Pepper, we ll be there in that spot soon. I read all the above comments and I’m sure you are feeling better.

  17. Cheers to your new life indeed. Giving up something to build something more meaningful may not be easy but it is very satisfying.

    Loved the last few lines of the post.

  18. When the payments for your own home come from your earnings, you generally have to make many adjustments in your lifestyle. It is tough in the beginning, but you get used to it. As time goes by, earnings go up, but EMI doesn’t, so hopefully things get better. The great thing is, you have your own home!

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