Success Tip: Cut Your Spending Without Cutting Into Your Life

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I was on a sabbatical from 2013-2017. Although, it was a fun sabbatical, I learnt some valuable lessons for a simple and joyful life. I was on a money-diet in this period—no regular income. I survived on my savings a little income I made from some freelance projects.

The sabbatical was to explore my inner-self, and learn a lot about forgiveness, compassion, kindness and gratitude; basically, the recipe for a truly happy life.

I agree that everyone has their own perspective of a simple life but I somehow feel that cutting spending gives you wings. I was able to do a lot of good work for myself and society in these four years, mainly because I had less baggage. My baggage was less and hence, I could run more.

Am I single? No. I am married since 2010.

Me and my wife have a fantastic understanding. Many of my friends inquire about the secret of our simple life. And I think the answer is that we keep life simple. I don’t have a formula as such but I have some ideas that can help.

So, I made a list of some spending-reducing suggestions that I felt either didn’t have any impact at all on quality of life—things you can do once and benefit from for a while—or, if they’re repeatable, are inherently fun.

  1. Get rid of stuff you don’t use: Take a trip through your home and look around for things that you simply don’t use or rarely use and sell them off, just get rid of the clutter.
  2. Do some basic energy efficiency around your living place: Install a programmable thermostat to replace your current one to have the heating and cooling shut off when you’re not at home, saving the cost of running it.
  3. Unless you’re a heavy cell phone user, switch to a pay-as-you-go phone: A pay-as-you-go cell phone can be substantially cheaper than a cell phone plan. Look into some pay-as-you-go plans and see if any fit your usage needs and add up to significant savings over what you already use.
  4. Buy in bulk the staples you use all the time: The best way to do this is to buy items in bulk if you’re going to use all of them in reasonable time or before it becomes unusable like toilet paper, dishwashing detergent and laundry soap.
  5. Unplug electronic devices you’re not using: Many plugged in electronic devices use up energy but if you have such devices that you rarely use like a coffee pot and entertainment devices, unplugging them can save a significant amount of money on your energy bill.
  6. Switch to a bank that respects you: See what banks are available in your local area that offer full service online, doesn’t charge you ridiculous fees and has customer service that makes online banking easy and accessible.
  7. Sign up for the customer rewards programs at the places you already shop: Most customer rewards programs just result in free stuff like in many groceries stores they’ll automatically find coupons for you reducing the cost of your bill with no effort at all for you.
  8. Figure out your most cost-effective grocery store and shop there: Figure out which grocery store available to you with best prices on the staples you normally buy all the time like milk, vegetables and fruit where you will be open to shop regularly.
  9. Look around for discounts: Everyone is offering some or the other discount for shopping or eating. Keep checking online for offers.
  10. Check your cupboards and fridge before you hit the grocery store: Spend time glancing in the fridge to see what you have and then make a quick list of the things that are missing, this will save your money without influencing your buying choices.
  11. Cook home food for guests: This really works and guests really feel awesome. It will also save a lot of money specially with those taxes around.
  12. Use water bottle when out: carry reusable water bottles whenever you’re out and avoid those expensive and unhealthy bottles water; unless unavoidable.
  13. If you’re married, talk to your partner about what life you want to lead: Sure, this seems like a good relationship tactic. After all, it’s always useful to make sure you’re on the same page. However, doing this regularly has another significant impact. It helps both partners to set goals together that they’re both committed to. During such a conversation, people tend to find the things they have in common, the desires that they share. When those desires become clear, quite often the conversation and thoughts move towards how to actually make them happen.
  14. Keep a notebook on hand: You’ll see all sorts of opportunities and hear many different ideas, keep a notebook with you and when these ideas present themselves write them down.

I don’t say that these will work 100% with everyone but it had worked for me in the time of my sabbatical and the best part is, we’re still continuing it. With this formula we have reduced our spending by 50%. We’re now able to save more and spend on stuff that really matters for us and for stuff that brings us true and everlasting happiness.

You can also check my blog post on 76 ways to save money.

And finally, just chart out your priorities and believe in the of universe. Don’t fall into the trap of good, best, need or want because these words mean different things for different people. Use your brain and consciousness to decide your life.

100% Population On Planet Earth Have This Syndrome

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I have seen some films in which the protagonist or antagonist is suffering from what is called multiple personality disorder. But as per my half knowledge and perspective, we all are suffering from this disorder.

In fact, I wouldn’t call it suffering but more like displaying this syndrome. And I wouldn’t even call it a disorder but rather a natural phenomena.

I believe that all of us have many personalities inside us. We are a different person in anger, joy, frustration, ego, pride, sadness, depression, fear, confidence, friendship, envy, guilt, shame, shamelessness, pity, kindness, indignation, emulation, contempt, calm, trust so on and so forth.

There are limitless human emotions and we are someone else every in moment of our life.

All of us have this emotional diversity which is in fact a good thing. In a recent research paper, researchers have found that better health could be linked to emotional diversity rather than just having positive emotions.

I have observed many people making fun of people suffering from multiple personality disorder. And I feel real bad that we don’t introspect to see what’s inside us. The next time you hear or see a case of multiple personality disorder, don’t make fun of the person but rather understand that all of us have multiple personalities inside us. It’s just a matter of recognizing it time-to-time.

 

In Mumbai, We Have A Jungle Within A Jungle!

Do you know that Mumbai is a home to the world’s second largest urban park? If no, you have to read this.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a large protected area in the northern part of Mumbai. It encompasses an area of 104 km2 and is surrounded on three sides by India’s most populous city. The rich flora and fauna of this urban park attracts more than 2 million visitors every year. Tourists also enjoy visiting the 2400-year-old Kanheri caves sculpted out of the rocky cliffs which lie within the park.

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The park is home to a number of endangered species of flora and fauna. The forest area of the park houses over 1000 plant species, 251 species of migratory, land and water birds, 50,000 species of insects and 40 species of mammals.

In addition, the park also provides shelter to 38 species of reptiles, 9 species of amphibians, 150 species of butterflies and a large variety of fish.

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The park has faced a number of similar problems to those faced by national parks elsewhere in the world, involving conflicts between natural and human interests.

The lack of space in Mumbai has pushed residential colonies right up to the park boundary. This boundary is poorly fenced and has often allowed wild animals into human habitations. Slums have mushroomed around the park as well.

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The park also features a toy-train that runs on a narrow gauge railway. The toy train ran for around twenty-five years. I still remember going there once a month as a young child.

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This urban park is home to a large population of forest-dwelling tribal communities. They face man-animal conflict but they don’t budge out due to their ancient connect with the jungle.

This big patch of green not only helps us city folks breathe a bit easy but also give some much-needed quiet from the chaos of city life. For travelers, even a short trip to this oasis of green gives much-needed respite from the noise and crowds that they are constantly bombarded within the concrete jungle.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is Mumbai’s own little weekend getaway that you can enjoy without ever leaving the city!

He’s The Unbelievable Human-Butterfly Of The 21st Century

I have known Surya Gauda from school days. We were both in one class; sometime. I still remember his ankle length red-gumboots. No one in the school—other than him—had the f***ing guts to wear such footwear in the school.

He was a notorious backbench-er type of student. Although, I was myself a second last bench-er but I wasn’t even close to him in the madness. I don’t think there was any teacher who wasn’t his prey.

He made sure that he had his claws of madness on all the teachers; and classmates.

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After school, I never met him, until few months back when we made a WhatsApp group of school alumni. We got connected after 22 years or so. I was just casually checking his Facebook profile one day and I was shocked to see the transformation. I saw his photographs doing different social activities.

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Surya—now—is a journalist, a social activist and trustee of a school—a beautiful transformation. I never thought he would transform into what he’s today. Although, he must have been a beautiful person inside right in the school days but I failed to see the depth.

The most troublesome school boy is a noble man, the most notorious student is a compassionate teacher and the one who was most reported is a reporter now.

I have seen many transformation in life, including mine, but this one is a real vibrant and radical one.

Tears Don’t Lie: I Cried A Lot That Night

Hello *****, can I call you that?

Agastya—is that you?!

Yes.

After a long time.

Yes. Almost 10 years.

How are you *****?

I am fine Agastya, how the hell are you? Where have you been?

I have been to London to look after the queen.

What a shitty joke, as usual.

Yes, I was always full of shit.

No. I didn’t mean that. But how come after such a long time?

I called you many times but you never answered.

WTF?!

Really.

But you don’t even have my phone number.

My heart called you man times, but your heart never answered.

OMG! You’re still the same boring philosopher, Agastya.

Almost.

Don’t feel bad.

There is nothing to feel bad about *****. Neither bad, nor me.

This is the conversation we had—on Facebook messenger—after 10 years of separation. I haven’t forgotten the sweet-bitter romantic journey, she also hasn’t.

We met many-many years ago online and cultivated our love is the world of binary digits. We never knew when the binary digits became one, when the digital romance transformed into a physical one.

A real one. A beautiful one.

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We spent sleepless nights in the one of the most romantic cities of India. I was in Mumbai but visited her almost every weekend.

Two bodies melted into each other every weekend, to finally become one.

The sun never set, the day never came. The intoxication had us all the while. The moon, the empty streets, the cold nights, the auto-rickshaws, the whiskey glass, the cigarettes, the bed, the silence, the crease on the blanket of the bed, the room of the hotel where we stayed, in are still witness of this silent, joyful romantic journey.

But when it all ended, there was a loud noise. My heart shattered into million pieces with a bang.

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I never came to know—till date—why it ended. Suddenly, she was not there. I was alone. It was random virus attack on my life. Just a phone call and it all came to an end.

I cried a lot.

I had all the ears to listen but she had nothing much to say. I drank my whiskey all night and in the morning, boarded the first flight to meet her. I booked the same hotel and waited for her to come to meet me.

I cried all night.

Once upon a time in school days, I lost my new windcheater and I cried a lot. I was scared and guilty. I was ashamed. I cried a lot that day and after that, I never cried.

But that night I cried a lot.

In the morning, she came to meet me. It was raining heavily; both in Mumbai and that city. Both the cities were crying. I begged her to stay with folded hands but she was done with me. I kept my head on her feet to forgive me but she had to go. I had all the questions, she had no answer.

I cried a lot.

I blamed her all the while but after many years, when I learnt the art and craft of introspection, slowly-slowly I realized some of my mistakes. I learn the art and craft of forgives, compassion, kindness and gratitude. That is the time I contacted her to seek forgiveness.

And to my surprise she was already waiting with folded hands to ask forgiveness for what she did.

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The chapter is closed now but I can’t forget that night when I cried all night long. Although, I have managed to get all the broken pieces—of my heart—together, I am unable to find some.

I can’t forget the tears; they were so innocent, so alone. They wanted to say so much but tears are just words the heart can’t say.

I can’t forget that night. I cried a lot.

Little Mehek’s Magical Birthday Party Gave Me Many Memorable Gifts!

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by loving friends—old and new. One of them, invited me to her daughter’s 10th birthday party. Actually, let me confess, I was self-invited.

This friend is a special one because we were school-mates, and we met recently after 22 years of sweet-bitter separation. I spoke to her daughter few days ago and I was planning to go for the party right from the time I self-invited myself.

The location was far from my place but somehow, I trusted the universe to make it happen, and it really did. I was under tremendous work pressure so I thought to take the shortest route; by local train.

Local trains in Mumbai are tougher than going to Mars; in the evenings. Hence, I attempted to catch a train in afternoon itself. Although, I have lived all my life in Mumbai, for the first time, I traveled this route. It was not less than playing rugby as the train was 30 minutes late. But somehow, I managed to reach the venue.

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The celebration was planned in a beautiful restaurant. There was balloons, lights, cold drinks, pizzas, masks and lot of children. The birthday girl—Mehek—wore a beautiful golden dress like Queen Clarion. I have worked for Disney for few years and for me whenever a girl looks cute, I think of Tinkerbell and other fairies in the story. I could also see the pixie dust coming out from her radiant dress.

Little Mehek is a vibrant child with the cutest smile I have ever seen in life. She talks so fluently with children of all ages. I gave her a joy-jar for this occasion and she seemed to be quite excited about the concept.

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I even met my friend’s husband—Deepak—and her mother. Her husband is a seasoned professional from advertising industry and a great orator. We spoke for almost an hour!

It was little Mehek’s birthday but looks like I got more than I gave. Although, there is no balance sheet that I have to tally but my asset side—my gifts—is heavy.

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I took the road not taken, I met a golden fairy who was emitting pixie dust for real, I met my old school friend again, I met a great orator who took my breath away, and I received so much love from the entire family.

I Couldn’t See The Light At The End Of Tunnel Until He Stepped Into My Life

I was working in an animation studio for 10 years and we were scheduled for a pipeline change. I was responsible for my department.

Can you believe it? Me!?

But it’s a truth. I was the lead of my department and we had to switch to a new software for doing computer graphics. The new software was called Nuke and it really came as nuclear bomb in my life. I was using another software for so many years and this new software pulled me out of my comfort zone. I was liking the new software but couldn’t pick up much.

I was lost. I couldn’t see any light. In fact, I couldn’t see any tunnel also. That is when Aditya Talwar came as an angel in my life.

He was working in another department that was already working in this software. We didn’t know each other well but I had interacted with him before and I liked him. He had just completed his studies from a reputed college in Canada, and joined the studio.

I had to ask for help and the universe chose him.

Thereafter, began a question-answer and teacher-student journey. Although, I was much senior to him, he seemed to know so much that I didn’t. He was always available at one request to answer my question.

I cracked the software in a month but it can’t be without giving credit to Aditya. His kind and helpful attitude made me learn this new software and train others.

He’s also a great visual story-teller and one can easily believe after seeing some of his photographs.

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I was in deep pleasure because I had found a new coach and friend but universe had a different plan. Aditya had accepted a much challenging and well-paying job in another studio.

He had to leave. And I had to live; without him.

We met some days before his exit from India and have never met or spoken till date. But, I am quite sure that he’s offering his kindness and support to many needy like me. I am sure that he’s showing light to many-many like me; wherever he is.