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How to cut costs: Yap less, eat less
Prasanna D Zore
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June 09, 2008
Oil at $137 per barrel; dollar at Rs 43 apiece; the Sensex down sharply from its 21k high; real estate prices going up; home loan interest rates moving up; inflation at 44-week high. Are you already cringing with fear?

While all the figures totted above have direct and indirect impact on your monthly expenses there are ways in which you can lessen the pain if not eradicate it completely. Remember, these are backbreaking times and it will only require your special efforts to cope.

If you can lend me your ears and eyes then here are a few ways which can help. Of course, some of them might be outrageous or downright silly but then these are backbreaking times that you and I are living in. You may agree or disagree; and you may have your own take on how to cut expenses (if you do then you have a message board below all to yourself; pour your heart out there).

A few sensible, downright silly/outrageous (again you can have your own take on this) ways of cutting down on your expenses:

Sensible ways

1. Take public transport to office or wherever on earth you are going. This will immediately bring down your monthly travelling expenditure. The flip side though will be the inconvenience of reaching office late and travelling with smelly co-passengers now that the skies are pouring and humidity levels rising.

If you have a couple of your office chums staying in the same area pool in together. Hire an auto rickshaw or a cab all the way to office and go Dutch. Gone will be the smelly bit if you and your colleagues use a good deodorant.

I guess I don't have to remind you how much this will help you save. Petrol prices have been increased by Rs 5 per litre and diesel by Rs 3 per litre recently.

2. Yap less. Yes. Have you ever scanned your phone bill? Is it always spiraling upwards -- month after month? If yes, then it's about time you stop yapping often and use the Internet instead. To chat with your near and dear ones, that is. Your electricity bills might just move up a tad but then it surely would not be 100 paise a minute. If your office is too liberal with the use of the Internet then you can even save on your electricity bills.

Keep in touch with your friends this way and do make it a point to meet up on weekends just to remind yourself that you are living beings and not androids.

3. Throw that credit card away (if you are close to the trash bin) or cut it into two pieces (if you have a scissor at hand). You often miss your due date and end up paying more on your monthly purchases. Add up all the late payment fees and almost three per cent interest on your outstanding if you miss on your payment. At the end of the year all these tot up to a neat sum.

However, if you are a prudent credit card user then here's the other side of the coin. Every credit card offers a 50-day free credit period. You can use this advantage to the hilt and manage your monthly payments.

4. Take your own dabba to office. For this you will need some support system at home. Either your mother, your wife -- or if you have a cook -- will have to bother a bit to make your lunch. If you are not married or stay away from home then you better learn cooking.

Taking your own dabba will have two effects apart from help you save money: your health is likely to improve as you will use better edible oil and your office canteen guy will have some rethinking to do. He will either reduce his rates or perhaps completely ignore your existence.

5. Remote control does offer you a lot of convenience. But now make it a point to switch off your television set using the switch tucked behind your living room unit. While you will have to lift your backside for doing this it will help you reduce your electricity bills. The television only goes into 'standby' mode when you use a remote control while being still 'on' and consuming electricity.

Getting up to switch it off will also help you remove that 'couch potato' tag off your white linen.

You can also use your air conditioner the smart way to save on electricity bills. A good AC requires just three hours to keep your bedroom cool through the night. Use a timer that switches it off automatically after three hours. Your remote control (not again) can do it for you. Now that the monsoons have just begun you can keep that AC switched off as well.

6. Pare down the number of parties or outings you indulge in by half. Alternatively, ask friends to your house for a weekend bash. Don't forget to ask them to bring their own refreshments/snacks/ meals. This way you will have a variety on your plate every weekend.

Cut down on your movies too. If you just can't control this itch then avoid going to a multiplex. If you still can't avoid this go stocked with your own snacks and drink water from the cooler instead of cold drinks. popcorn, samosas, cold drinks et al cost a bomb at the multiplexes.

7. You will soon have the mall/departmental store near you announce the 'big monsoon sale'. While 'sale' tagged goods are a bit defective -- I bet you won't be able to find what exactly the defect is -- they come at a good discount without you missing on your style quotient.

Downright silly/Outrageous

1. Ask your boss and the HR department for a weekly inflation-adjusted salary. If the inflation goes up by 5 per cent let them give you a salary hike of eight percent for that month. If the inflation drops by a per cent or two ask them to pare your salary for that month accordingly.

PS: Do this only if you think you are indispensable to your organisation. Otherwise have an offer letter from some other company that is ready to hire you for double your current package.

2. Eat only once a day; skip dinner if you can. This will not only help you mind the weight around your midriff but will save you 15 days' money that you would have otherwise spent on your dinner. Skipping dinner will be better keeping in mind the saying that goes ' like a beggar at night'. You won't have constipation at least the next morning.

PS: Isn't this a brilliant idea to prove to your girlfriend/boyfriend how easy it is to slim down? If you are married your wife will be more than happy with your ways.

3. Befriend your neighbour if not love thy neighbour. Hoodwink them into inviting you for dinner. Going by this way it will surely help to have at least four on each floor of your apartment. It can always take care of your Sunday meals.

PS: You will need to be a genius to pull this off though.

If you think you have more tips on how easily to cut down on your expenses in these hard times the message board below is all yours. :-)

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