My grandma calls me a miser. My mum thinks I am a spendthrift. In reality, I am neither.
Let me tell you even before I begin that I hate to shop; that with a capital H. My patience levels to endure a shopping experience is close to zero, if not in the negative. I generally shy away from avid shoppers; but when I have no choice, I get frustrated and anxious after some time. My way of picking clothes, accessories, even gold is very simple. Let’s say I go to purchase a saree. I generally have a colour in mind. My budget is fixed. So, as soon as I step into a shop, I ask for that particular colour in that particular range. My radar doesn’t go an inch beyond these parameters. Yes.. A little bit of budget-stretching here and there is allowed, but I try not straying too much. So, I am generally in and out of the shop in a few minutes.
So, can you imagine the kind of frustration I am subjected to when I go with people who love to shop?! One reason why I don’t like looking at stuff that I have no need of buying is that it tends to tempt me. For one, I do not want to fall prey to material possessions. Also, being the perennial nomads that we are, we wouldn’t know how to dispose of the stuff when the need arises for us to move. Someone I know doesn’t want to move because she doesn’t want to let go of her belongings. I hate to hoard. Although I am quite an emotional person, I try to dispose of stuff that I don’t need. At least, someone else will be using them instead of it being cob-webbed in my place is my idea.
I hate credit cards with a vengeance. One more way I try to avoid being tempted. I have not had a credit card from the time I started working. I doubt I will have one till I die. I am so thankful the husband is wary of credit cards too. Also, loans. I cannot even think about paying later while enjoying the benefits of a product in the present. The concept is so wrong at so many levels. We can only spend to the extent to which we have money. Why should we make a dent on our future incomes, is something I can never understand. (Well.. This credit-hate is just my idea. I know of so many people who live their lives on credit. I try not judging them. Sometimes, I am even at awe looking at them!)
Sometimes, I am the most rational spender. My kids have just one scooter which they need to share between themselves. Most of the times they share. Then, there are days when they fight for it. So, someone advised us to get another scooter. I told her about our very volatile state and that we are nomads with no one-place to live. She just shrugged and said, ‘You can easily afford another one. When you have to move, just give it away to your maid!’ For a moment, I was stunned. I am all for giving something away to maids when we don’t use them, but.. I didn’t know how to explain to that someone the concept called value of money.
I come from a very middle-middle class family. We have gone through enough monetary trauma in our childhood, although we weren’t denied anything. Even today, every time I get my PMS, I think of how Amma used to advise me to use cheaper sanitary pads for days 3 and 4 ‘cos we couldn’t afford the expensive ones on all days. Probably, this childhood still has a big impact on me. That, I think about spending much even now.
But, with all these you shoudn’t assume I am a miser. I wish I was. The truth is I am not. I spend a lot; just that I zero-in on my choices before spending. That’s all.
Our lifestyle, by any chance, cannot be considered frugal. Our groceries are from the best of shops. We eat out very often. We go out on at least one vacation every year. Our children go to the best of schools which charges an exorbitant amount of fees. We live in an apartment with amenities competing with those in foreign countries. We own a decent car. And, we buy almost everything that our children ask for. Certainly, we are not misers.
Not a spendthrift. Not a miser. What am I then? A misfit, may be!