- Date : 16/09/2019
- Read: 5 mins
While there's convenience 24X7, living in a metro city can be a challenge financially. Here are some handy tips to stay on the top of your finances
One undeniable advantage of living in a big city is the convenience of having ready access to things 24x7. However, just as you know water is wet, you also know big city life is expensive. Whether you’re on the first step of the corporate ladder or simply working until you can do what you really want to do in life, you can find ways to economise on everyday expenses.
Practise smart budgeting
This is where it all begins. Yes, we all know budgets are boring, but if you want to really enjoy your time – and life – in a sprawling metropolis, the first thing to do is to employ the 50/30/20 rule.
Here’s another thing: people spending less than 50% on needs tend to feel abundant, but any more than that and they will feel stretched.
Save on housing rent
House rents can be expensive, so figure out what you can afford and then challenge yourself to find your ideal home, even if it isn’t in your ideal area. If you’re happy sharing a flat, things will be easier – at least financially. Once you’ve navigated your way through poorly maintained accommodation and found a place that fits your budget, non-legal hurdles are often thrown up by housing societies, so be patient. And be prepared to move often.
Don’t buy expensive furniture
Now that you’ve finally found a place, your thoughts turn to ‘doing it up’. Stop! Unless some distant uncle gifts you some lovely furniture, hold off on buying anything expensive while you rent – at least at first. Renting furniture is now as easy as buying it from your favourite e-commerce website. Just ensure the furniture rental costs are included in the ‘fixed cost’ part of your take-home salary. Of course, there are second-hand furniture markets in every big city where you can pick up deals. They might even deliver home if you bargain effectively.
Automate your savings
When your salary is automatically deposited into your bank account, it’s easy to feel flush with money and go on a spending spree. Instead, set up a systematic investment plan (SIP) or ensure a portion is directly invested in savings instruments. If you don’t know it’s there, the less likely you are to spend. This ‘forced saving’ is a very good habit that you must cultivate.
Related: Understanding your savings account
Reduce your debt
If you have any outstanding loans (education, credit card, personal), prioritise them and pay off the high-interest credit card debts first. While this may affect your ability to save in the short-term, you’ll be doing yourself an enormous favour by essentially not flushing your hard-earned money down the tubes by paying sky-high interest rates and late payment fees.
Save on commutes
Public transport in Indian cities is a challenge for even the hardiest of people. But these are the lifelines by which ordinary people commute to and from work. With a bit of practice, you should be able to ditch that cab and take the bus to work. If trains and buses just aren’t your thing, you could rely on the modern-day ‘sharing economy’ of ride shares and carpooling. Avoid buying a car, and the expenses associated with its upkeep, at any cost.
Take an entertainment timeout
In a big city, the temptation to spend is forever in your face. Shopping, dinner and drinks, more shopping, weekend trips can all destroy your budget in short time. You have some options:
- If you want to keep an active social calendar, implement ‘no-spend’ days 3-4 days a week. So, on those days, pack your lunch from home or eat at the office cafeteria, avoid evenings out with friends, and certainly refrain from surfing websites for the next big ‘must-have’.
- A more extreme option, though it may be necessary, is to put a moratorium on your social calendar – initially for a month – to help replenish your savings and to re-focus your spending habits. Track your expenditure with one of the many digital tools/apps available. Use the time to binge-watch TV serials and movies you’ve downloaded, or read one of the many books you’ve bought but haven’t read yet.
- Find out about bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood that offer deals and specials on certain days of the week. Keep track of these, and plan outings on those days. You’ll have your fun, and go home with a little more money in your pocket than otherwise.
- The best tip? Have a get-together at your home or at a friend’s. Make sure everyone brings something, and utilise coupons or online deals from restaurants in the area. You’ll have a great time without burning a hole in your wallet.
- If you work from home, stay home.
It’s as simple as that! Going to your local coffee shop isn’t ‘free’. A cup of your favourite brew and a sandwich could set you back by Rs. 500. That’s Rs. 2500 in a week! You don’t need to become a hermit though. Treat yourself to one day a week in a cafe, or work from a friend’s home. You have company, and people work better when they have company. Or so we think.
At the end of the day
The key to keeping a check on your spending is to stand your ground and live within your budget. When it comes to friends, be frank and tell them you can’t afford the gigs they’re trying to rope you into attending. Suggest alternatives, and make them sound exciting so the gang is tempted to tag along. Otherwise, opt out. Running out of money before your next paycheque arrives is far more painful than being unpopular.