Most of us hear the words “lavish life” or “luxurious life” and think that it’s only for millionaires and crorepatis. Our increased consumerism lured in by some ultra-creative advertisements have gotten us to believe that we can buy our way into happiness. No, this is NOT a quick-read guide to buying at Burberry or driving a Bentley for the rest of your lives. We’re only going to talk about the things you can do or the behaviours you’ll have to change to live your life well with your current income.
A lot of what we want to achieve with this post has to do with redefining and understanding what a “great life” means. We’ve all grown up wanting to own the best of everything and knowing that that would make us happy. Yet we hear stories of how the rich spend countless hours working tirelessly; so that they earn a little more to buy more things? Your life becomes a goal-less journey if “being rich” to you means owning a lot of money. You cannot buy your way into happiness. If you want to feel and be seen as rich, it will be defined by your lifestyle, your personal satisfaction, and your acceptance of yourself. Below, we explore ways to achieve true happiness without burning your wallets.
My Lavish Home
If you’re like me and everyone else who has moved to a big city for work, your company has probably not gifted you a big furnished apartment. Our homes are almost certainly the single largest monthly expense which we can do nothing about. But should you buy one or rent?
It seems wise to buy an apartment, live in it while paying the home loan EMI for the next 25 years. This may make sense if you are absolutely sure that you’ll want to live there for 25+ years. Of course, you can sell or let out the place later on, but you are not very sure of your investment’s eventual value.
It is becoming increasingly expensive to get a spacious apartment at a convenient location in big cities. The cheaper ones are the farthest from the workplace or are in shabby condition. The good news is that you can still live the rich life by renting a small place. We have previously given you ideas on how to convert your rented house into the perfect home.
House + Things = Home Sweet Home?
It doesn’t make sense to live in an empty home. But it can cost a fortune to buy all the stuff we want to fill it up. I’ve seen some friends spending all their early income buying furniture and home electronics. Their settling-down plans backfired when they received that “you’ve been relocated” email from the HR. Realizing that they are making huge losses while selling their stuff back rubs salt into the wound. This is when renting makes perfect sense. It’s very easy to get all those expensive home electronics, appliances and quality furniture at a low monthly rental without the hassle of running around town looking for quality vendors. Pro tip: give us a try! 😉
Search for exciting experiences in and around your city that doesn’t drain your wallet. Some activities you do and experiences you have build memories and relationships that can last a lifetime. Instead of going to the mall or your favourite restaurant this weekend, try doing something very different. You’ll be surprised by the places you’ll find when you really start searching. You can get started by checking out Thrillophilia or Xoxoday.
Though the experience of shopping has been proven to improve your mood, it will not necessarily make you happy. Be frugal, adopt a minimalistic life and before buying ask yourself if you can do well without buying that item you are interested in Rs. 999 or Rs. 2499 spent on one item can bring 10x more happiness than spending the same amount on another. Try to be mindful when you are using one of those online shopping apps too. It’s so easy these days that even the laziest of us lose no sweat in going on some retail therapy.
Not A Fashion Disaster
“Why do we shop? So we can buy ourselves some comfy clothes” said the butler. There are people who buy a lot of cheap clothes and then are some who buy a few expensive ones. The choice is really yours. But don’t be the guy/girl who buys a lot of expensive clothes all the time. Again, you should only buy if you really think you cannot live without it and if it’s the only alternative. For those special occasions, you have options like Flyrobe app which rents out branded, designer-wear. There are also apps like Elanic where you can buy quality preowned fashion. Why spend Rs.20,000 on clothes you’ll only wear a few times!
Learn A Skill
Remember when you purchased that expensive DSLR without knowing how to use it. Learning something new is one of the best kind of experiences you can have. Apart from it being immensely satisfying, learning helps improve your cognitive capabilities and can even become a means of earning a little more than you already are. Someone once told me that education is the best kind of investment. The workshop or seminar that you attended might lead you to a new passion and if everything works out, you may even switch careers. Join a few local Meetups and Facebook Groups. Check out “Grades Don’t Matter” – where you can learn interesting and offbeat topics from influencers and experienced masters.
If you are a fan of some fine food, you know that eating out can cost a lot. It’s incredibly easy to spend a lot of money on a weekend—if you go to a movie and dinner, that alone can be Rs.2000. But hey, ‘cooking’ is one of those cool skills you can learn. Try your hand on a few dishes, invite a friend over and impress him/her. The occasional splurge to eat out is fine, but cooking at home and eating together is more fun! Bonus: you’ll only be paying for what you’re eating and not for the ‘service’ or ‘ambiance’. Something I recently came across was Zomato Gold. Go ahead, check it out – thank me later.
Your health is at the core of leading a lavish life. Find ways to exercise and relax in nature. If building the routine of waking up early and going to the gym every day seems daunting to you, you can always get a gym home. No, I’m not talking about spending the lakhs you just saved on buying some fitness equipment. They can be rented too! Whether you want to become leaner or build some biceps, GrabOnRent has packages(multiple products) that suit your needs with rents as low as Rs.559/month. This is cheaper than that gym membership and you can share it with everyone at home. What’s your excuse now?
One of the first things many of us thought about when we received the first salary was getting a ride. A great bike. Give it a couple of years and we want 2 more wheels. This is another example of spending of stuff you don’t really need but thought will be useful. The public transport connectivity is decent in most Indian cities. The missing last-mile connectivity is by design – walking a mile a day is also great for your body. Uber or Ola is still inexpensive when you compare it with owning your own car. You can even try Rapido if you want a quick and safe pickup and drop on a bike. There the option of renting bicycles too!
If you’re doing all or even a couple of the above-mentioned tips, you’d have saved enough for a getaway. Plan ahead, find the best times and deals and go on that much need vacation. Avoid those 6-day 7-night multi-city / multi-country tour packages because that’s not really vacationing. You’re going to come back home exhausted. Vacations help you come back to work afresh and everyone needs one. If you can’t be too flexible with your dates, be flexible with your location. Go somewhere you can drive (rent a car) or that provides a cheap train or bus ticket.
There you go. I think I’ve covered most of our everyday needs and desires in this post and now it’s up to you to slowly start making these changes in your life. Remember that it is not about practicing extreme frugality. It’s about working on our spending habits to accommodate our income and about looking for inexpensive ways to live well. Buy less, live more.