The new frugal moi

Can you survive in Mumbai on Rs 100 per day? Surely people do. Surely people should learn how to, given that with boogeyman inflation getting perverse thrills in sneaking right up to you and laughing in your face, while waving price tags of innocous things like cooking oil that you now need to sell your soul in order to buy five kilo cans of, and dont even ask about the price of fruits or vegetables. I think it would be nice if one could pop a calorific requirement worth of a pill and sit back and relax. Save the stress of running around like a headless chicken in the supermarkets, squinting in shock and double shock at prices of things and then looking at some other products in the same category, working out price differentials with my pre primary level mathematical abilities, fainting some in supermarket aisles, having water sprinkled on my face and such like, and then resolving to live on chewing gum for the rest of my life But since that is so not going to happen, given that I need to fill the four stomachs I have with enough cud to last me many winters of hibernation, I must learn to save. And therefore, this man’s blog, as reported in the Hindustan Times today, grabbed me by my four eyes.

Called Wang Hao, this man is a business management major living in Beijing and blogs about living on 100 yuan (Rs 720) a week. It would also be fair to surmise that this man is unmarried and lives alone and doesnt really have a pressing need to change his clothes too often. Have you seen the price of detergent lately? He also probably doesnt like pastries. Or watching movies in theatres? Take a family of four to a movie and you probably need to empty out your pockets of small change to pay for the popcorn and colas. Therefore we have invested in a home theatre system. And now for the cost of one DVD, we can continue getting well on our way to noise abuse accelerated deafness, without spending on the popcorn.

Mr  Hao, I read, cycles to work. eats at cheap eateries and cooking Chinese dinners at home to save money. The Manral household could do with a crash course on frugality from him. We have a household comprising four adults and one child. And three support staff. And as the man known not to mince his words, aka the husband, states in all sincerity and pain of one who is footing the bill, the amount of food cooked in the house, could be handed over to relief camps to feed the hungry. And as far as cycling to work goes, if I cycle to work and back I will probably do wonders for my cellulite and horrors to my tan, not to mention the fact that I will probably spend the entire day on the cycle. Can you imagine the kind of yeast infections that could lead to in the muggy Mumbai weather? Therefore, in the interest of my health, and therefore saving potential doctors expenses, I will take the car. Public transport, you said? Stridently, at that? Ever try to hurl yourself into a BEST bus? I have a child to look after. He needs me alive till he can tell me he hates me for ruining his life and how he wished I was dead circa age 14. I can die happily then.

Therefore I reduce needless trips in the car. I am actually walking it to the supermarket up ahead and walking back lugging backs and cribbing endlessly about the dismal condition of the pathway between the buildings connecting us to the rest of the world, taking a stumble or two, and getting my arms wrenched out of their sockets by balancing two heavy bags simultaneously. Resisting the temptation of speed dialling the driver and asking him to get the car round in two shakes of an accelerator on overdrive and relieve me of playing beast of burden.

I am not eating out much. It saves the money and the calories. I do, of course, spend an inordinately long time surveying the menu, doing quick calorific counts of the tempting items and then spend the rest of my time in the joint smiling beatifically at the supreme sacrifice I have made for the betterment of my bank balance. And waistline.

I have also perfected the art of sauntering into shops and sauntering out without bounding up and down in delight when I spot something I like, and dragging it, slobbering like a dog with the bone to the cash counter and staring at the cashier adoringly in the hope that he or she will bill it that very instant and enter zero next to price. Of course, I hope in vain. But whats life without a little hope.

And finally, I have saved on my biggest expense yet. I have given up fashion magazines. This is two pronged strategy. I dont spend on them magazines. I dont see the fabulous stuff within that I absolutely must, have to, will die if I dont buy this very minute. I stay happy and content. I dont see stick insects modelling high couture. I reach out for more pastry and stay happy and content.

Yup. Saving money and stress. Whats your strategy? And could you survive on Rs 100 for a day? I know I couldnt. Unless I stayed at home all day and took a vow of silence. Am sure my phone bill for the day surpasses that.


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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16 Responses to The new frugal moi

  1. blinkandmiss says:

    one tip abt fashion mags. i buy 1 month old cosmos and vogues for 10 bucks each from a raddi shop.

    and also 100 bucks=20 vada pavs. never forget that 🙂


  2. Pingback: The new frugal moi

  3. Anamika says:

    At a shoe store, there was this last pair available in the spouse’s size and it was a decent price but there was a little dust on it. Brought it to the store manager’s notice and got him to give me a sweet 25% discount. The internet service provider for the house gets a call every year with threats to disconnect and move to a competitor unless they give us the new customer rate, given 4 years ago, for another year. Ditto for TV cable.

    Haggle Lady haggle…its sure helps to uplift my lowly, materialistic, thick waisted, penny pinching soul

    For other stuff, car pooling is a great way to save on gas. Agreed its hard to match schedules but its still better and easier than cycling or riding crowded buses.

    I would like to try the 100 bucks challenge. In the U.S, I will have to change it to more like $5 a day….hmmm…might be an interesting challenge to take up.


  4. Divs says:

    Hey blinkandmiss,

    That is a great tip about magazines! I have been wondering how to catch up on magazine issues…have been looking for libraries so that I can borrow instead of buy issues but they are equally expensive. So buying old issues from raddi wala is a GREAT idea! Thanks much.


  5. Anamika says:

    This might help u Anamika ( my humnaam 😉
    I had seen this on TV news sometime back ….

    it is interesting – but i can’t do this ..
    and pray to god i don’t have to do this …


  6. chandni says:

    I could manage i think.

    I need very few things to survive.


  7. Mint Chutney says:

    When my husband was laid off, we took a machete to our monthly budget. The biggest change was the number of times we made home-cooked meals versus eating out. I’m not a good cook at all but it’s surprising how many easy recepies there are out there that are palatable to the kids. We also changes our mobile phone plan and gave up “premium” cable. Now I only have 2 million channels to choose from versus 2.5 million. : )


  8. D says:

    Go berserk on sales. It will help you save money next season.

    I did that – burnt a huge hole in my pocket shopping at sundry end-of-season sales but I know I’ve saved the money I would have spend next winter 😛


  9. maya says:

    you may well find that when you put all the salaries together, you pay your household help much more than 100/= a day 🙂 i know my bai would find it difficult to live on Rs.3000/= a month. she makes Rs.6000/= and still regards herself as poor. mumbai is an expensive city.


  10. mandira says:

    i think i could but only for a day or two, certainly not for an extended period of time. but as of know i dont have to worry about the sky rocketing prices of consumer goods(though like you i am maha shocked at them). why, you ask? because i still live with my parents which essentially means i still live off them!!


  11. mandira says:

    oh i forgot to tell u guys are 4+1 with a staff strength of 3. i have an aunt who has 4 family members and 4 support staff. what do you say to that!?


  12. Abha says:

    no i couldnt! but i have lived in 1/10th money we earn now! so if it comes to that, we will survive!



  13. Goofy Mumma says:

    I can I am sure. Not too tough, except for the phone bill part ofcourse.


  14. Sue says:

    I have lived on less than that, three years ago when things were cheaper, and I was an unmarried girl with only myself and my wee ‘household’ to think of.


  15. I could. If I didn’t have to travel. But I spend Rs 30 per day on travel. Rs 30 per square meal(which could come down to Rs 25… or 20 at our subsidized canteen) outside the house.
    Am not frugal. Am very much spendthrift who thankfully has not much to thriftspend 😛


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