Frugal Mindset: Taking off the overload

I have always regarded peace of mind as a given in your life. I also take a few measures to ensure that my mind has time and spare energy to relax as well as devote itself to various pursuits of its own. This has allowed us to run a few blogs, freelance along with a full time job, actually unplug from work time to time and generally live a life we enjoy.

Not owning a television is another one of my ways to avoid and information overload and also to ensure that I get filtered and essential happenings only from around the world. I prefer to read multiple articles and books on any issue, interesting topic and then make up my mind instead of hearing a few ‘panelists’ shouting at each other. Feel free to call me ignorant or plain stupid but it has helped me create a better life for myself. I strongly believe that most average people (like us) will rarely achieve anything beyond anger, distrust and general dissatisfaction.

Low information diet

Low information diet has been around for quite some time; from Tim Ferris to MMM it has been talked about a lot. I came across it a few years ago when I had taken on far too many things on than I could have ever managed. It was affecting both my mental calm and the calm in my day to day activities. I was easily irritable, especially if someone failed at drawing a straight line being an architect. It affected how we engaged as a couple. We were both stressed by one issue or the other and the to-do list was longer than the grocery list of spendypants. There was a constant nagging feeling of not doing what I was supposed to do. I was hell bent on creating a successful blog which could fund our travels, but one blog was never enough. I started a few blogs, worked freelancing jobs and overall was time strapped. The only time I could disconnect was when we were travelling, but the thought process of travel blogger crept in and I now had to take a lot of pics to justify the tag. I have thousands of people clicking in to the site, how I could disappoint them with no pic of the tasty stuff we ate. Here’s something you might not know- I hate taking pics (especially if they stall me from enjoying any experience).

Let it Go

Shove came to push and I was dearly missing my own free time. I decided to stop every single thing and then decided to regroup and rethink my priorities. Even though I love writing, travelling and sharing it with numerous people and then interacting with them; it came surprisingly far lower in my priorities and responsibilities. Yes, you are my reader but for me to feel obliged to produce content is simply stupid. It just took a very long time for me to realize that. I was running after my dream of quitting my job and travelling while running an online empire. Guess what? The struggle is real and unless you can really commit all your energy it is a difficult one at best.

It is difficult to accept that you can’t do as much as the other person with a seemingly perfect life, it was difficult to accept I can’t.

Once I gave in to what I really wanted, which turned out to be a free, slow lazy life I was feeling far-far better. I miss writing sometimes because I have a lot of stories to tell and because I miss the thrill of pushing publish and waiting for reaction. When we started this blog my only intention was to get some feedback here or in the forums we frequent. Would I love to have a blog with million visits a day? Why yes as long as it does not require me to put every single free minute of my life in it.

Right now and in the foreseeable future I will have a job which will meet my daily expenses and allow me to retire early. With a job which pays above average mean I commit over 44 hours a week. That leaves very few hours to myself, my family and my house. With the frugal drive and lifestyle change we are on we are adjusting every day. There are days when we are freer than before simply because we are not out buying stuff. Others we are far busier because we are cooking or prepping food. It has become far easier every single week and a huge change in our spending patterns is visible from February to July.

Pursuit of happiness is real.

I am happier though a bit stressed and dissatisfied with the job for reasons unknown to me. Maybe one day I will get meditation mindfulness down pat and realize my reasons for not enjoying a job which not only provides for me but also challenges me mentally. I am now, back to picking up things I gave up along the route and deciding if I want them in my life at all. A lot of them are now useless like the amount of shoes I had before I decided I like to travel more. Don’t get me wrong I love shoes and would love to own a lot more but the reality is I don’t need to. It did not take me much time to realize they are not a need an definitely not the only interest I have. The fact is that walking in heels is a big pain and when you travel on cheap you definitely walk- a lot.

I am still learning and growing in my endeavor to be more mindful of what I consume both mentally and in material terms. Yes the money will grow as we cut back on our expenses. Yes we will face road blocks and we might not retire before 60. The best part is our worst case scenario is other’s default and best case scenario.

Expense Report June 2016

It’s another day left before we call and end to June( you would be reading it around 5th July anyways), but I am realty distracted and writing expense report for the month seems like a good thing to do. This month like the previous one was full of unexpected expenses and more than that a lot of mental stress due to illness in the family. For some reason, one or the other in our parents has been battling health issues since February. Right now it feels as if we have been worrying about one family member or the other all through 2016

Though our regular expenses did not go way high or low a lot of travel expenses were added to this month something to the tune of 6K+. We keep our travel accounts separate and they do not come out of our salary, instead they are earned as we freelance.

Another major thing that happened this month was a friend who crashed at our place for a few weeks and it was something which gave both of us a window into how people end up broke after earning a decent sum. It also helped us understand that we are probably not suited to be this chummy with most people especially the ones who are wasteful and narrow minded.

This month’s expenses include an afternoon of beer and snacks spent with a visiting friend at home. We chose to skip going out and instead entertain our friend in the comfort of our home which turned out to be a big blessing. The entire thing cost us way cheaper than ordering couple of beers each for the three of us. Still a major part of our household expenses ended up being eating out. Coupled with a few off days of our lunch lady to getting hungry in between meal times we managed to spend over 30% of our monthly bills in eating out.

Apart from our regular grocery bills which were higher than they normally would be since we bought a good haul of organics our next big expense was paying for the packed lunches we are getting delivered at office. Not the famous dabbawalahs of Mumbai but a lady who cooks up great food.

Our electricity bills have been larger than normal especially for our level of consumption. We have a fridge and WiFi router running all day long and (when it is just us) a fan and a light. We shifted to gas for cooking this month as I mentioned in May expense report and I can only hope that this will help us to reduce our energy expense. For some reason I have a nagging feeling that we have some rouge connections that are billed to us. June and July should give us a better idea. Bill for June is high as well but that will be covered in the July expenses.

This was also the month we stocked up on essentials including milk (should last us through better part of July) oats, flour, rice and daal. These would last us for a considerable amount of time and coupled with some good fresh vegetables they should result in good eating times.

We are prepping for an uber frugal month which should help us in reducing our expenses drastically. My hopes are really high that we will not just crush the 14K target we had given ourselves till June instead we might end up with an insanely low figure which can shock us.

Getting back to our spending in June we ended up with a grand total of 14,795/-

Eating out- 5004 (34%)

Grocery – 3486.88 (13%)

Business expenses – 1592 (3%)*

Paid lunch – 980 (6%) **

Social activities – 1076 (7%)

Electricity bill- 895 (6%)

Internet – 700 (4%)

Petrol- 500 (3%)

Cleaning supplies & others – 258 (2%)

Taxi- 170 (1%)***

Parking- 30 (0%)

* Business expenses were a bit higher since this is when we renew one of our domains and google app subscription.

** We have started subscribing to lunch provided by a local lady. This might not seem frugal but the certainty of getting lunch at office makes sure that we do not eat out as much as we used to when we did not pack lunch for various reasons. Also she makes great rotis which I have so far failed to emulate.

*** Mr. S was off a few days and I had to tackle the short commute in auto rickshaw. It is certainly walkable but rains and the unmentionably dirty roads did not allow me to walk.

We feel we were more or less at our goal. A major chunk of our eating out budget was with a friend who had earlier offered to pay for the entire meal. We did not want to put her in that position and decided to pay over 1000/- for it.

We also stocked up on milk for the entire month of July which cost us 600/- for ~12 l of UHT milk- along with the staples I talked about earlier. So I guess my natural talent of making excuses is trying to say that if we hadn’t paid next month’s groceries this month we would have met our goal of 14K this time.

For next month our focus is on getting our eating out budget to 0. Mr.S says it might not be possible but I am taking that as a challenge. To be clear whatever we spend on our travels is not included in the amount above, it will form a part of total expenses at the year end but it is definitely not a regular expense.