Update-How have we been?

It’s a time for update. Diwali was just a few days ago and the few days of holidays we had have again reinforced our desire to retire and that too as early as we can. October was probably the busiest month in terms on our jobs and we have barely had time to think about anything except meeting the deadline. This has resulted in silence on this blog and a lot of delayed decisions personally. But that was not the only thing that happened this month; we also managed to finally fly off to a week long vacation. How we fund our recurrent trips is something we will discuss in another post, hopefully soon.

September ended on a high note for us as we prepared for our vacation and managed to keep our expenses within reason. None of us forgot about the blog but as life goes we were pulled into some highly demanding (though rewarding) work and deadlines (definitely demanding). In fact I have a lot of updates written and a few posts I need to sit down and work on.

When you are not dependent on your blog for money you can afford to let life run its course. Especially if you have an audience which realizes that people looking for FI are probably not interested in being bound to their blog. Thanks to all of you who believed us lazy souls will be back soon.

As October rolled in we were packing our bags and the excitement was high with this vacation coming at the heels of a lot of change and upheaval in our lives. Before we move to the FI bit let me say- if you have a chance to spend some time in Indonesia take it. It was perhaps one of the most comfortable trips we have taken in last few years.

November is almost halfway across as well and it has been a fun ride though a bit different from our usual months. We have house guests for a better period of the month so the expenditure is proportionate to a 4 people household than just the 2 of us.

Now back to the FI stuff- a lot has changed.

The month that was

October started with a vacation but for most people this is not really a productive month especially in India. The off days started with Dusshera and were sprinkled throughout till Diwali. It definitely did not hurt that most holidays allowed us to think of a long weekend. Usually Diwali is an expensive occasion but being the frugal people we are we rarely spend big bucks on anything. Diwali also comes with a lot of offers and discounts both online and in stores.

This allowed us to buy some essential items for our house like a bed and a good mattress. We had been researching for months and finally decided buying second hand wasn’t going to get us any major profit. Also none of us were comfortable about a second hand mattress because not many people here use mattress protector. And before this one neither did we. We also invested in a book shelf during past few months which is the only storage in our living room. For Diwali we bought following

Pack of 6 scented candles – 299

Pack of small wax diya(lamps)- 69

6 earthen diya(lamps)- 20

Pooja samagri- 100 (this is an approximation)

250 gm laddu- 50

Most of these are quite reusable and we ended up using just one of the scented candles. Still if I include all of this we spent a grand total of 538/- for the festival. It definitely saved us quite a bit more on the bed and mattress only. As people above 30 we believe we have had our share of fireworks and neither one of us was interested in lighting any so we didn’t buy them. What I am not including in this total is the cost of fruits since we buy fruit anyways as against sweets which none of us enjoys much.

Our office gifted us with gift cards and a small pack of sweets which we were more than happy to eat and share. These gift cards will help us buy some things we need.

Why are we buying things?

It might sound a bit weird that the person, who claims that freedom of not buying is awesome, is talking about buying things. Well there are multiple aspects to this.

We have purged probably a quarter of our belongings in terms of clothes, utensils and stuff which we no longer use. This started with family as we gave them and option to pick first then to a few colleagues and finally we handed a big box full of stuff to the staff at our building. They were free to take it for themselves or sell it off. This might seem stupid to some but none of these were things we could have sold ourselves or our friends and family were interested in. This made sure that we essentially emptied out one of the corners of our living room.

We never really bought stuff except for essentials like a bed and mattress (we sold our old bed when we had to move a few years back- earned money and saved transportation costs.) and a working kitchen. We were gifted the said bed by my family as a wedding gift and the lone couch we own was a gift from a friend. We did spend on buying a new to us four seater dining table and two recliners which everyone loves. We are looking to sell the couch to free up more space and also to reduce the stuff we own.

You’d remember our drive to eat better which we started a few months back. A major part of the drive is slowly phasing out our utensils both cooking and eating to healthier options. Non sticks and aluminium are moving out and being replaced by steel and cast iron. Both the replacements are quite expensive so we are using up any free money we have spare to get us some better stuff.

All of that being said we are quite conscious of the small apartment we call home as well as our preference for relatively empty and open spaces instead of those filled with things.

Big changes same investment

Apart from the changes that we are making or striving for there were two major changes which affected our investments one was the US election and the other was discontinuation of currency. Both these allowed us to buy on quite cheap prices on 9th November. Though the markets have recovered since then we are happy we bought in to the volatility.

Some would call it timing the market, well you would be correct but does it make sense to not buy at really low prices simply to be able to say I have never timed the market? Of course it doesn’t.

We also forayed into dividend stocks this quarter and we are slowly building our stock while investing in index funds alongside. In a market like India where volatility is quite high we concluded it was a good move to try alternates and create a kitty which we can leverage as required once we retire.

Our current portfolio follows the principles laid out here and we believe we will be able to tell you how this decision fared out by next financial year.

Apart from introducing dividend stocks we are continuing with our previous philosophy of investing every single penny we can since we do not need to have additional emergency fund. We are working hard to maximize our PPF accounts and anything over and above that goes into our index funds and dividend stocks.

If you are wondering why we are so intent on PPF that is because a guaranteed rate of 8% return compounded annually is way better than what the best of us can claim consistently from the market. Apart from that any returns are tax free which makes it a great instrument for fixed income.

As an experiment I have stopped tracking detailed expenses every day. We are still keeping tabs on how much we spend every day. It has been going on pretty fine and we have not spent a whole ton on things we don’t need but I miss being able to exactly tell how much we spent on groceries and how much on eating out.

Looking at things differently

As you might have realized we have made a lot of changes around here and a few big ones came from outside our circle of control. We have been looking at a lot of aspects of our lives differently and a big part of that is to make us more efficient. These changes are in various stages and we have been waiting for these results to show up consistently before we share them with you.

This blog is our way of sharing our frugal investment and retirement journey with you. We would love to hear if there is anything in particular that you would like to read about.