Saving Money- How we cut spending?

We have been trying consciously to reduce our consumption and expenses. Surprisingly the easiest area to cut was the kitchen. Utilities, rent and maintenance of other moving parts did also reduce. For quite a bit of time we have been thinking of detailing how we are saving money so that you our readers can help us find areas we should be looking at.

We live what we believe is an average urban Indian lifestyle though with a few tweaks.  Before we move ahead and let you know what we are doing with our money let’s clarify the lifestyle definition a bit.

We live in one of the major Indian cities with an above average paying jobs (not by IT standards) at a multinational company. Our palates are best served with a wide variety of cuisines and we enjoy travelling a bit too much. We visit malls and restaurants and use taxis whenever required to ease our lives. Internet is a necessity so is a clean and well maintained living space with light and wind coming through windows and doors.

Our Take on homemade vegetarian lasagna. Turns out a decently maintained 6 year old convection oven can bake damn well and save a good sum.

 

We do differ a lot from the other comfortable aspects of urban life which seems ubiquitous in every Tier I and even Tier II city. Let’s get on to what all we have cut from our lives which we think saves us a shit ton of money.

No CAR.

Yes you read it right we don’t own a car. Why you ask. Simply because we don’t need it. We live quite close to work and our trusty 5+ year-old motorcycle works amazing at ferrying both of us to work and back in 10 minutes. If traffic is particularly bad we spend 15 minutes on the road.

The bike requires much less space for parking and it is cheaper to park it in any mall basement compared to the smallest of cars. It also requires far cheaper maintenance and less petrol to ferry us. The truth is we spend maybe 500 on petrol every month and ~1000 on maintenance every two month.

Without a car we are much more mobile for our jobs. When we did move last year it was a pretty easy task to get the bike shifted and transferred on office money compared to colleagues who moved their cars.

When we have friends and family over or we want to go somewhere far we hire a cab. Someone else deals with traffic, we don’t have to worry about parking and most importantly we have never paid any capital to buy the aforesaid vehicle.

We do believe our requirements will change especially if we have a kid. Maybe we will buy a car but I doubt that. If we do, I have my eyes set on a used TATA NANO simply because it will get us from one place to another drinks less and costs way less.

If we do want to experience the luxury of a high-end sedan or sports vehicle well I’ll just rent it for a day and save us from sinking a considerable part of our net worth in a depreciating metal shell.

Estimated savings 3K (based on around 5k people spend on their cars a month also considering occasional taxis for family)

Live close to work.

Like we said above we live 10 minutes from work and to be true on really bad days of finding no transport we can easily walk to work in 20 minutes. It is also something we would have done had the roads been walkable and we weren’t this lazy. We do pay a pretty penny compared to those who live over 30Km from office and commute for at least an hour daily in public transport or 1.5 hours in private cars.

Call me crazy but I don’t want to spend my life sitting on the road for over 10% of my awake hours every day. Living close allows us to get up way later than we would have to do if we were living further away and that is a big bonus for me.

We believe our quality of life improves and dissatisfaction reduces with this short commute. We always know that in 10 minutes we will be in a much better and private place which keeps us far grounded than if we had to stew on latest irritating thing for hours on the road.

So how does that help us to save money?

When we are happier we tend to buy less and think much more rationally than justifying everything with ‘I live a hard life and I deserve this’.

We also spend way less on petrol and maintenance than many people do. We also don’t have to worry too much about safety on motorbike in long commute hence we comfortable get by without a car. If our vehicle breaks down of a random nail punctures the tire in the morning it costs us barely Rs.30 to take an auto and get to work.

We cook much more and eat at home than we would if we had to be commuting for hours. Unlike many families we also get by without any hired help because we have time on our hands to actually do chore. Whether we do them or not is a completely different thing. We have not eliminated eating out completely but we have drastically reduced it.

Estimated saving – around 2K (in direct saving in not owning a car is not included and can’t price peace of mind)

We don’t own a TV.

Well that would just save you a few hundred you would say. Those hundreds do add up. The truth is I hate television and it’s capability to completely suck a person’s attention. We do consume a lot of TV’s content but we both believe we have much power over what we watch with a laptop and internet than we would have with a TV. Months go by and neither one of us is aware of the latest advertisement urging people to buy or latest fluff which people seem to love. I have a long-standing issue with the content televised because it is mostly negative and I would be hard pressed to remember a good prime time show on any Hindi channel.

We have also been away from the cycle of change that televisions seem to go through in people’s houses and the initial money that is sunk into the set. If I were to buy a TV today it would cost us a significant part of our monthly rent if not a full month’s rent to get one. That does not seem like a good deal.

Having more time and not being inundated with adverts allows us to make better spending choices and just keeps our life generally happier in our opinion. If someone is visiting they are welcome to use the internet and their handheld device/laptop to stream whatever they wish to see.

Estimated savings Rs 500 (considering service provider’s bill, electricity and any other repairs required)

We don’t have an AC.

One of the places we lived on a recent trip. Good room good price and the luxury of a well needed AC.

We live in a city where almost everyone owns and runs an air conditioner. To be true all through May we were debating if we should buy an AC because we weren’t sleeping well. We solved our problem with open windows and a mosquito net first and then realized living without AC was feasible. The weather has taken a turn last few days and we hope to see some showers soon. Humidity though really makes me want to buy one. We are in office during majority of the day; our flat is blessed with good wind and huge windows which don’t allow us to justify the purchase. Fans work but Air coolers don’t so we consume very few units during summers compared to our neighbors.

We are sure we will be discussing this purchase again next year, unless we end up living in an apartment which is even cooler than the current one. Neither one of us hates the sweet relief that AC provides in fact we enjoy it plenty on our travels. However, on a daily basis we let our office pay for our thermal comforts during the hottest part of the day.

Estimated savings – 3K (considering repairs and electricity consumption)

Avoiding wastage

We have always been ones to reduce wastage but the truth is we had no clue on how to actually reduce our consumption. Last year we have re-learnt how to buy and consume food and related items. However we have been quite particular about our energy consumption and in past have been blessed with bills amounting to as low as 300.

First few electricity bills in this city were all above 1000 and use of Induction cooking top was the reason for it. This past month we paid 510 as our monthly bill in one of the most expensive utility rate area. We are quite conscious that this can further be reduced and are looking at how we can achieve that.

Another utility which has saved us quite a bit of money is gas and for some reason we have not consumed as much of it as many do. Maybe it is because we rarely feel like spending hours cooking things, share cooking load with our oven and never boil water for any other purpose on the gas. Even when we did not have the luxury of piped gas, our cylinders lasted anywhere from 4-6 months.

Estimated savings – Rs. 500

We stopped buying stuff.

I have written about it before but seriously if you saw how many of those tiny cute things we own you would think we are insane. Well, unless you have your own stash of useless trinkets collecting dust and taking up storage space.

If I say we haven’t bought anything in last one year that would be lying. I have practically replaced almost all of my 6-year-old plastic storage containers and replaced them with new containers. We bought a few plants to liven up our living space. Bought containers to store meals, carry and freeze them better… you get the drift. But we have not bought any trinket which would look very pretty on some corner of our house.

Some of my new storage containers serving as the assembly line for burrito bowl. The dining table was bought second-hand 2 years ago for 5K.

Not only did we stop buying stuff we also have started reducing the amount of stuff we own. We recently sold bags of stuff for a very small amount but they are now out of my house and not adding to the clutter. After purging and donating bags full of clothes last year we have again managed to suddenly purge another big bag full of clothes we don’t can’t or won’t wear. Since April we have spent a decent sum on clothes for both of us only it has come from free credit from our company and will help us reduce our tax liability. A lot of older clothes are now again in circulation since we can see them in the closet. (On a side note, ladies can you help me with a pair of jeans which doesn’t shred around the inner thigh area in a few months?)

We have managed to look decent for work and lack of expensive new clothes has never impeded our performance.

We are also constantly questioning if we need to actually own a particular item or replacing it with something will actually serve us better. We are looking for buyers for our living room furniture which after 2/6 years is not what our current lifestyle requires. If all goes to plan we will replace 3 big items for 1 and make a bit of money as well.

I cannot insist how calm and happy open spaces make both of us feel. We are quite messy people and none would credit us for keeping the house clean but we abhor clutter and filling every corner with stuff.

Estimated savings – 1K


Kitchen has been one of the biggest sources of our savings and it really deserves a post of it’s own. Above are just the major contributors to our savings and have resulted in small changes which will help us in the long run. One of these changes is being at ease and comfortable at home as well as reduced urge to buy stuff.

Total Estimated Savings – 10k


We are aware that a lot of our savings are derived majorly from our decision to live close to work and many would argue the extra 10K you pay in rent equalizes everything. Well not really, anyone commuting for 50Km per day is spending around 4L petrol in a decently efficient car. This would in today’s prices result in around 280 per day or 7000 in just gas. Added expenses,  like house help would then bridge the gap between the differences in rent. I would rather sleep more than spend the same amount for false sense of savings.

Saving money is one of our favorite topic to talk about with anyone. I intend to write more about this and would like to know what do you believe is holding you back from saving more. What are the ways you are saving on your expenses and where do you think we can look for optimizing our expenses?

6 Replies to “Saving Money- How we cut spending?”

  1. I am glad you guys had the fall back option to switch to piped gas since the induction cooktop was sucking up too much electricity. But what if you did not have the piped gas option? Maybe you would have found some alternate means to mitigate the situation – but the last thing you would think of is producing your own electricity, right? For that would mean owning a Utility. An argument can be made that if one lived in a house (as against an apartment) and it was physically possible, and economically viable, to install roof-top solar panels to generate your own power, you can very well be your own Utility (I use upper case Utility to indicate an entity/company that produces/provides utilities).

    I am actually writing this comment as feedback to a couple of your other posts regarding your home purchase back in your small town – and it has nothing to do with electricity or gas. However, I am posting my response here because in this post you have covered both – housing and utilities. After reading your posts (and the thought process) about the home purchase, I get a feeling (and I could be completely wrong here) that you know whether you made the right choice or not (in terms of purchasing the apartment) but are having a hard time accepting what you figured out; and may even be trying to justify the purchase, to some extent, regardless of what you have learnt (?). Nevertheless, I admire the amount of thought and analysis you have put into it; and especially so because you are both young earners. I totally believe that you two, The Roys, as another commenter named you, are future millionaires! 🙂

    But I digress. It’s a very personal opinion but the point I am trying to drive home here is that housing too is just a utility. You only own the Utility if it makes economic sense to do so – if not you rent it (or buy the service). And it all depends on the circumstances and where you consume that utility. Think of the Rent vs. Buy arguments when it comes to housing – nobody compares apples to apples in those. Your 2016 summary post (by the way you need to fix the title on that one) shows your monthly rent is slightly below 20K INR. For a true Rent vs. Buy comparison, you need to consider the purchase price of that very apartment (or similar, in the EXACT same building). It makes no sense comparing purchase price of a 500 sqft utility in Thane with rental cost in a Mumbai suburb, assuming your workplace is in the Mumbai suburbs (I pick those location examples because in response to one of the Australian RE investor’s comments you discussed the home prices in the exurbs of Thane). And you know you made the right choice by leasing a residence 10-minute-bike-ride away from work instead of purchasing 35-40 KM away! Your confidence speaks for itself in your post where you justify choosing to ‘pay more to live close to work’. Guess who else made an equally smart and confident decision! The couple that rented your apartment in the small town and made you buy furniture for the place. 🙂

    I would like to hear back and discuss this further with you guys as well as your other commenters (I have sent a link to your blog to some folks, assuming you wouldn’t mind me taking that liberty since you mentioned a couple times that you are interested in monetizing the blog) but the bottom line, in my opinion, is that residential real estate in the Indian market (Tier I or II cities), at this time, including the past few years, is not even an asset if you live in it, and from an investment perspective (rental), is the lousiest way to burn money at best.

    Apologies for the long-winded comment but I enjoyed reading your entire blog, including every single comment, and your responses to those as well. And it was a radio news clip I heard on my short drive home, an hour ago, that prompted me to write this feedback. The news was that Southern Company (a large US Utility) was shelving a couple power plant projects (one Nuclear and one Coal) because the project plans, conceived years ago when Natural Gas traded around $8 consistently, do not make sense today in a market where Natural Gas sells at $3-$4. You guys are architects, you can relate to project plans, right?

    Needless to say, yall are doing a great job! I do have a couple more things I am curious about and would like to ask you guys but given some of your reservations related to privacy, maybe this is not the right forum – if you guys are interested we may discuss over email.

    H-Dawg

    P.S. Mrs. S., with regards to Jeans that don’t fray, I’d recommend the Original cut Levi’s 501’s that are made from raw denim (and are Shrink-To-Fit) and manufactured in either Mexico or the US (from White Oak Denim milled by Cone Mills in North Carolina, US); they are pricey but are an investment. You can read up on them but the same pair will fit you whether you gain weight or lose weight (as long as you follow the wash routine). Trust me on this one as much I will trust you on all matters related to women’s shoes 🙂

    1. I have long had a dream of a house with my own solar panels and a tiny farm to sustain us but it just happens to clash against all the travel related dreams we have. We did get the bottled gas cylinders after we realized we were spending a shit ton of money on induction top as well as the time it took for anything to cook. Piped line was a bonus.

      We love having people over and discussing all kinds of topics (politely ofcourse) plus any ad revenue as it trickles in, is a welcome addition.
      We have a really bad habit of reviewing decisions on a regular basis like whether it makes more sense to pay the entire loan or keep it hanging. Or whether we should buy another house so that rental income can continue. Right now these do not make any sense for us but maybe a few years down the line they will.

      As for long commutes we hate it especially me from every fiber in my being. I would rather work extra than travel unnecessary. It is also a bonus that we can actually afford to live close by and not break our banks. Another reality is it would almost cost a sum very close to our FI amount to buy a tiny 1BHK in this city. I might have thought f doing that but I am also not very fond of tight living quarters or the city itself.

      I am really grateful that you took time out for us and our lives. There are times when I am surprised people are actually interested in what we plan to do with our lives.

      About the jeans I a wearing a Levis right now, they have started fraying ever so slightly and I know I am hoping against hope that they will survive a few years. Let me see if I can get someone to bring me a pair of jeans from the US.

  2. Oh, and I forgot to compliment and congratulate you guys for not falling for the whole car ownership crap!

    BTW, am here to understand and learn not preach or teach… this is my 3rd comment on your blog today; all of them posted with different names, phonetic variations of ‘frugal’ (‘cos I wish I was frugal but don’t deserve to call myself that, yet). My email is the same though on all responses… feel free to write back to me.

    1. Thanks for the recognition, we take unusual amount of pride in not owning a car. It makes me feel even more intelligent every time someone brings the topic up.
      Guess what we are here for the same purpose. We know we have just started out and a decade is a good time to slip up.
      Don’t you worry it racks up the comment count on the blog and gives me a different kind of numbers to brag about.

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