The ExpertDabbler, shared an article over the weekend. He has consistently shared interesting and thought provoking stuff.. (so that credit goes to PK).
After reading through the article, realized a few things which made me go WTF?
There are people who live among us, who realize what it means to live frugally only when they are in dire straits.
As a household with both adults working (and another adult who comes and helps us out at least 6 months a year with the kids, thereby enabling us to work harder 6 months a year) we currently do a lot of the things that are featured in the article and have been for as long as we can remember.
a. we always use the public library for books, CD's, DVD's etc. True that we have a blockbuster mail order account where we pay under 8 bucks a month to watch newer movies, but by far the biggest movie expense for us is watching Desi movies in the local theater with friends or family. Reliance has pretty much bought all local theaters and they have established a price monopoly for Indian movies screened locally. (If only someone could break that or they realize their ticket prices are high.. or Blockbuster/Netflix/Youtube start online streaming of new releases for lower prices?.. anyways back to topic)
b. we always pack our lunch. Me 98% of the time and San 95% of the time. We eat outside as a family once every week at Bhavikas for <12 bucks for all 5 of us! Sometimes we go outside (maybe once a month) and splurge 40$ at Saravana Bhavan or the likes of it.. but that is usually a once a month affair these days.
c. Used to Bike where possible (or at least tried to) till the accident. Now it is going to be a slow start again. We don't have fancy SUV's. We buy cars that we know will last us at least 10+ years and still have decent fuel efficiency. Not exactly your Prius buyer but then again, we just decide to get as fuel efficient as the wallet would permit.
d. We still use coupons where possible and always do our homework before buying things.. sometimes we wait for years to buy things. Almost all our clothes shopping is done on India trips (granted everyone cannot do that, but we offset the cost of the flight tickets by shopping for a year/two worth of clothes).
e. we always take our kids to the local parks to play. At the most it is paying 6$ in parking for the entire day to visit any of the California state parks for a full day of fun, be it a beach, a hike with waterfalls, or just a plain picnic on a bench with home cooked food under some really tall old trees.
The thing that really hit me was:
1. We are not on the street. We have a huge debt on the house, but we made an investment and barring some natural disaster, the return will be there or least it will be a break even situation, but we don't act in a way that suggests richness.
2. After reading this article I started thinking "Wow, people have to lose their jobs to have our lifestyle ?!" So, what do they live like when they have jobs? How can some folks live a lifestyle that their paychecks do not support, for months, for years ? How is that even possible? How many people should have been doing that for how long for reality to come crashing down the way it has for all of us?
What would our family lose in terms of lifestyle if our jobs go?
We will be the same folks.. in a smaller place!
The library will still be there
The parks routine will not change
Biking will become a happy norm
Thayir(yogurt) or rasam(gravy) saadam (rice) in the lunch box will be replaced with more of the same except, there will be no lunch box..
It will be difficult to adjust to living with shared walls..We have the experience from four years ago. Then we moved to this house and during construction all five of us lived in one room for 5 months. Somehow the apartment experience was like a preview and preparation for the one room experience and we made it through.
The big surprise during both the apartment living and the single room living amid construction efforts was the way the kids reacted to all of this. As a child we(me, brother, sister and parents) lived through asbestos sheet roofed rooms in a house with a window facing the Cemetary for years. The bathroom was outside the house. So adjusting to something less is not a shock for me.
Jr. and the little did not have any issues with living in smaller spaces. In fact Jr. was the happiest when we were in that apartment because she found so many kids in that place to play with in the evening after coming back from school. There is a certain happiness to living in an apartment complex if you can adjust and calibrate your noise levels with the environment and kids being kids will adapt.
Little wonder then that thayir saadam lunchers and Chinese buddies(who bring their own fried rice in their Tiffin boxes) will have to share the fact that there is nothing wrong with using public facilities, spending responsibly, watching your bills and balancing your books and trying to teach your kids a thing or two from your life's experiences...
Who knew growing up in a poor/ lower middle class family for most of your early childhood could come in very handy later in life?
It is all karma, neh?