World Thrift Day is observed on October 31, though in India it is celebrated the day before. We find out how some have been balancing the books since the pandemic, which has redefined spending and savings for many
For Chetan Dube and family from Delhi, weekends meant catching the latest Bollywood release at the multiplex and a lavish dinner to their heart’s content from their favourite restaurant. “This used to be a routine of sorts. After a week’s work, it was the time to blow up some money and unwind,” he says. Then came the lockdown. “Initially, it felt liking upsetting the apple cart but in a few weeks, I realised I was able to save a lot more money as our lifestyle turned around,” he adds.
Chetan has since resolved to “invest creatively” that extra savings. His new-found love is indoor gardening, something his two young kids too have taken a liking for. “After all, isn’t a pleasant home décor way more satisfying than fast food?” he asks.
With the pandemic clipping our wings, our spending and savings patterns have changed. While some embrace the idea of “cashing in on” the restricted times to save up for the future, others look to invest smartly to make the best out of the unexpected gain. As World Thrift Day is observed on October 31 to highlight the importance of savings, we find out how some have been balancing the books since the lockdown. In India, World Savings Day is however celebrated on October 30 as the following day coincides with the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
There are no outings or mall shopping now for Maris Urumeese from Mangalore. “Since March, I have spent zero money on new clothes. Earlier, eating out or having takeaways were frequent but since the pandemic struck, me and my husband, Robin Jose, began to experiment more with cooking at home,” says Maris, a dental college lecturer. She does not mind shelling out a bit extra on some fancy veggie or an exotic fruit from the supermarket since their monthly expenses have come down. “I have also opened a recurring deposit for better returns from the additional savings I make,” she adds.
Kitchen is where the heart is for Shuvaranjan Sinhababu from Kolkata as well. “Since the lockdown, we have been spending more on purchasing a variety of fishes. Ordinarily, we used to stick to some of the common or cheaper fish varieties, but these days we are fork out more on food but made at home since we have automatically cut down a lot on other expenses,” he says. However, he calls for the need to tighten the belt for a “nest egg” during the pandemic. “There’s also the anxiety in the back of one’s mind about having to save for any potential medical expenses in these times. Recently, I heard about a family that ran up debts after treatment for Covid,” he adds.
The pandemic has not been kind to some whose livelihood took a beating from its consequences. Like A L Senthil Kumar from Chennai who runs a graphic design studio. Anticipating a slump in business, he made other plans with smart money, investing in online gold trading. “You may call this side business but it has certainly helped me through. Since the lockdown, most of my savings have been in the form of gold,” he says.
Senthil says he keeps himself updated on the market trends thanks to investment apps. “There is of course a potential risk but you are aware of the market behaviour and invest judiciously, you can reap dividends,” he says. After a rather “quiet” few months, he is gearing up for some grand online shopping for Deepavali.
Arushi Joshi, who works with an HR firm in Mumbai, seconds the idea of online trading. A commerce graduate, she says she reasonably understands mark trends and this knowledge came in handy in the past few months when she started investing in mutual funds. “What helped me is that I did not really need a large capital, unlike in the case of fixed deposit, to try my hand at mutual funds. The additional savings sufficed,” she says.
With modes of entertainment shifting indoors during the pandemic, some find their own way of keeping themselves amused at home. Like software engineer Padmanabhan H from Thiruvananthapuram who has taken to playing fantasy sports via Dream11 this IPL season. It is fun for sure and, if lady luck favours, actually rewarding as well, he says. “As I do WFH, I get to save a lot of time otherwise spend travelling and fuel expenses that I invest in playing fantasy sports now. I cannot go out in the evenings any way and as a cricket buff, this keeps me engaged. So, heads or tails, it’s win-win for me,” he says with a laugh. A penny saved is a penny earned!