Let’s rewind back 20 years. There was a wedding in the extended family. My family was all set to attend the 3-day long ceremony. All of us had new dresses and a fat wad of money for shagun. Looking back, I wonder how my mother managed everything. As a middle-class woman, she had all under control – school fees, tuition fees, monthly bills and even had a contingency fund. She was better prepared than most modern couples I’ve come across. Please note, if not more, salaries have tripled in the last two decades. How come my mother met all her obligations with a monthly income of 10,000 INR? Something we can’t achieve with our fat checks nowadays. After my marriage, whenever I asked how she managed her finances – her answers were simple. And there lies the wisdom – passed from generation to generation. The traditional ways to save and manage money which I’ve incorporated and streamlined my finances. We all can use these traditional methods that still work and save thousands annually.
My mother was a fan of RDs or Recurring Deposits. At any point in time, she had at least 2. The amount was often nominal. If I look closely, it was her way of ensuring she saved before spending. The moment RDs matured, she invested them. She planned for major events using RDs as well. If there was a wedding in the next 10 months. She used this method to save money for the ceremony. Result – she was prepared for all the occasions and also for the emergencies.
Vegetable Garden/ Home Grown Produce
The major household spending is on the groceries. My mother made sure to save on this front, too. She planted seasonal produce in our vegetable garden. Herbs were always planted in the pots and moved indoors during the winter season. She stored the homegrown onions, potatoes, ginger, and garlic for the year-long consumption. Even after deducting the salary of our gardener, she saved hundreds every month on the produce. Plus we always ate fresh and healthy.
Buying in Bulk
Mom made the best use of the wholesale price. Desi Ghee, cooking oil, pulses, and even the toiletries were bought in bulk. It’s the same we do these days. The difference is we pay membership fees to stores which sell at the wholesale price. It’s amusing to see a traditional money-saving trick used by Indians has provided a business model to the corporate world. My mother, as everyone around us, bought in bulk. This way she saved thousands on everyday items each year. The reason she could afford to buy more things than many other families in the neighborhood.
In the last 10 years, the trend of DIY has picked up. Many use it to add a personal touch to their homes. Some have made successful businesses out of it. Little do we all realize, our mothers and grandmothers have been doing this for centuries without getting much credit. My mom knitted sweaters, used her old saree to make fancy cushions, recycled discarded plastic containers into pots for the home garden. Not only she saved money by these DIY projects but also made sure we got worth of every rupee spent.
Bargaining and Stocking Up in Advance
There are a few rules my mother and even her mother follow. They always carry a list when they go shopping. This helps them to stay in budget. They bargain hard, which makes sure they pay the right price. And they shop and stock non-perishable items for the next season in advance. Like most of the winter shopping is done in February’s end-of-year sale. Each one of these rules has made them smart shoppers who don’t leave any stone unturned to save money. We do pretty much the same these days but with apps, coupons, and online deals.
Systematic Use of Change
As a kid I always got coins, never notes. Even for a quick errand like buying a loaf of bread, I was given change. My mother was wise enough to use all the change lying around in the house. She saved the bigger bills for big purchases. This system is extended to how she manages money in her wallet. She carries change in a ziplock bag. She has devised her own system. Under 50 rupees purchase, she uses the money in the ziplock. This way she always has money in her wallet, not a bundle of tens and twenties.
Selling Unused, Old and Recyclables
We had different piles in our storeroom – newspapers, plastics, unused items and things that would go into the donation box. Every couple of months, my parents would sell used, old and recyclable products to the scrap dealer. The money raised always took care of newspaper bill for a quarter. Even I do the same. I sell old or used items before buying new. The only difference is I sell things on the internet. This has helped me to declutter as well as save.
As a middle-class family, money was always tight in our family. So managing money better was the only way to run a household efficiently. With no finance degree to her credit, my mother used these traditional money-saving tactics to manage her finances. She saved money, invested wisely and provided the best of the world to her children. And I am really proud of her.
A Company Secretary by profession, Saru found her true calling in writing. She blogs at sarusinghal.com which she religiously updates every Monday for the last five years.
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