Last week I fell in love. Again. While randomly surfing on Amazon (yes I have enough time on my hands to do that), I chanced upon a gorgeous (very, very expensive!) skein of yarn which set my heart aflutter. My hand hovered over the ‘add to cart’ button and I was about to press it, when all of a sudden the image of my last credit card bill came to mind. I’ll have you know that I am one of those customers that credit card companies detest, those who use plastic sparingly, never convert debt into EMI and almost always pay their bill on the same day it lands in their inbox. So it was not the enormity of the amount due in the bill which stopped my hand, rather the realisation that the state of work being the way it currently is, my days of being a detested credit card customer were probably getting over soon.
Now, work is really sporadic these days – Courts working sparingly on account of Covid-19. I’m not complaining very much because I know of a lot of people who have it much worse and at least, dear husband’s work is not impacted. So my problems are really more first-world – such as, how to not feel guilty when buying an expensive yarn you think you’re in love with, even though you have a cupboard full of yarn you once thought you were equally in love with, especially when more money seems to be going out of your bank account than coming into it. My father’s simple response to this problem would be along the lines of look for more work, invest more, etc etc. Fathers are so predictable! Nikhil, on the other hand is newly married so he’s trying his hand at being indulgent. But, who knows, he probably breaks into a cold sweat every time he sees a new courier arrive at the door.
Anyhow, I have decided to stop feeling guilty and have come up with a solution to my problem. If you can’t earn, you must save. And when I say save, I don’t mean save by not buying that yarn you are in love with – that’s a love story that’s gonna have its happy ending. I meant save in terms of tightening your belt and making sure you are not wasting your money on things you don’t love. So I gave myself a week to make my ‘save = earn’ list and this is what I came up with.
Delete your Amazon Prime/Netflix account
Now I’m the last person in the world who would ever advise anyone to turn off the idiot box to save money. I’m more likely to advise you to skip a meal or two if things get that bad. When I say delete your Amazon Prime/Netflix/Hotstar accounts, I mean delete your own accounts and latch onto the accounts of some other family member (say, your father) who doesn’t need to follow the ‘save = earn’ mantra. Almost all OTT platforms and music services (Apple music, Spotify) allow more than one user to watch/hear content simultaneously so you can easily use your family member’s account without inconveniencing them. This is instant saving without any loss of pleasure. Easy-peasy!
Subscribe to online libraries
If you’re someone who is an avid reader like me or loves audio books like I do, subscribing to an online library is a great option. Luckily for us there are now a lot of options available – Kindle Unlimited, Audible, Scribd, Storytel and more are launching as we speak. To maximise returns, I recommend trying each of these services one at a time so that you can enjoy the 1-month free trials that most of them provide. Once you’re through with the trials, choose the service that suits both your reading (and listening) habit as well as your pocket and stick to it. You can save anywhere from Rs.2000-3000 per month on ebooks and audiobooks this way depending on your usage.
Gift your significant other online cooking classes as a birthday gift
This is one of those tricks that kills two birds with one stone. I’ll tell you how. I hate ordering food from outside and this was true even before the threat of coronavirus. My logic has always been that if I’m gonna spend that much money on food (and food is expensive in Delhi), then I better get a fine dining experience out of it. So I’ve always saved money by eating home-cooked food on regular days and then occasionally splurging on weekends while eating out. But now that we are stuck at home all the time, how long can one eat the same dal, sabzi, roti. That’s where the gift of online cooking lessons for your significant other comes handy. Not only will you get fancy food at home without spending a lot of money on it, but it will also keep them busy at a time when you could both be driving each other mad. And if that was not enough, the task of buying this year’s birthday gift – check!
Use your reward points smartly
I recently realised that for the longest time I have paid attention to only section of the credit card bill, where the amount due and the due date are mentioned. Turns out, there is another section of some importance – the reward points section. These are points accumulated by you on account of your spending and can be redeemed towards certain products and services. Most of us ignore these points and allow them to lapse. I believe there was a time when the only type of products you could get on redeeming these points were suitcases, pens or watches of obscure brands. Things have changed a great deal now. These days most programs allow you to redeem your points towards e-vouchers which you can spend in stores like Amazon, Hush Puppies, Urban Ladder, Vero Moda – the list is endless. Best part is the validity of these vouchers is almost 6 months to 1 year, so no need to rush to the stores yet. If you use your reward points wisely, you can get a lot of shopping done without spending too much money.
Up cycle store bags
I still haven’t started doing this but I intend to as soon as I find the time. This is more my sister’s skill. For those of you who don’t know my sister, she is more creative than I am on any day of the week and twice on the weekend! No kidding! My sister takes bags that you get from stores such as Shopper’s Stop, Mark’s and Spencer, Westside, etc., upcycles them by painting them and never spends a single rupee (unlike her silly sister) in buying gift bags from Archies. I want to start doing this not only to save money, but also to adopt an eco-friendly practice. If like me, you like gifting and you like to do it in style, then give free rein to your imagination and start upcycling your store bags. Have a look at some bags my sister has worked on
Stick to giving knitted gifts
Once you have upcycled your ugly store bags into beautiful gift bags, you need something to put inside them, right? If you’re a a knitter, what could be a better gift than something knitted. Think about it. It scratches your itch for knitting, saves money and the giftee (recipient) cannot return or pass on the gift out of politeness. It is entirely win-win.
Jokes aside, with knitting you can create some wonderful gifts for your young and old friends and family members. Nothing says personal more than something you have created with your own two hands and I am sure there will be some people who will be touched by your effort. Considering all of this, I have taken a solemn vow that for the foreseeable future, my near and dear ones are only going to get hand knitted gifts from me. They should know that their options are only between knitted gifts or nothing!
I hope you will also consider giving hand knitted gifts to your loved ones. I intend to begin a series of posts on my website where I will discuss one hand knitted gift at a time. See if you like anything enough to make it and gift it!