Aaah..finally some useful tips in the wake of the new year (Oops..are we in Feb. already?!)
The TamBram’s guide to Saving Money. And these are just simple steps that almost every middle-class TamBram household practise on a day-to-day basis.
Step 1: Save milk, Save gas
Place ancestral milk-boiler on hob. Snip milk packets at very end, pour gently. Now, tip boiler sideways or backwards(its an art, mind you, to ensure the boiler doesn’t just fall off the hob!), and click a couple of times, until finally, the sticky, old lighter yields to emit a tiny spark.
Warning: ‘Gas Saved’ inversely proportional to ‘Time saved’.
And now, the master stroke. Carry empty milk packets to Kitchen sink, rinse with around 12 ml water (roughly 2 tablespoons Plus a little extra that goes in ‘FREE’), and WAIT, do not throw away this. Add this milky water (er.. I meant, diluted milk) to the boiler. Hardly matters that you open the boiler again, increasing gas/time to boil!
Double stroke: Boiler lets out shrill whistle when milk is done…shrill enough to awaken both your household and also your neighbour’s.
Note: Effective Annual Savings on Milk = 12 (ml) * 365 (days) = 4.38 solid litres of milk per year!
PLUS, A one-off saving on Cost of ‘Alaram Clacks’ = Rs.85 * 3 (your’s and your neighbours R and L) = Rs. 255!
Step 2: Save food
Ensure you buy only the smallest quantity of vegetables for that day’s cooking. Don’t bother yourself with stocking food properly, you know, to efficiently save time, energy and effort. You must only buy 1/4 kg Okra, 1/4 kg Potatoes, exactly 2 Tomatoes, and a few chillis for that day’s cooking. Hey, and don’t forget to harass ‘that cheat’ of a vegetable-vendor for your entitlement of FREE sprays of ‘Karvepilai’ (curry leaves).
Most important – while cutting vegetables (or making poor servant do it), ensure you peel the thinnest layer of skin, so as to Maximise use of vegetable in question. Especially Onions. You must ensure that new daughter-in-law peels ONLY the top-most and thinnest layer of the onion and chops it up finely, through watery eyes. (Itseems water/tears are good for eyes, so you can save on Visits to the Opthalmologist too) Ignore fact that DIL is getting late to work, and that she probably earns a 6 or 7-figure salary! You are, after all, saving about 10 paise on that Onion, you see!
Note: Effective Annual Savings: 1) Onions: 10 paise * 365 days = Rs.3.65 per annum (2) Opthalmologist for DIL: Rs.2500 ?! Wow!
Step 3: Charity and Economy
Ahem..sounds tricky, doesn’t it? But here’s the secret. Give tired servant her daily dose of coffee. Only, use cheapest brand of instant coffee powder (not your ‘Dikaaktion Filter Kaapi’) and WAIT, its supposed to be ‘half-milk, half-water’, didn’t you know? Needless to say, it has to be a pint sized tumbler and not the regular one, Duh!
On a side note: If servant asks for loan, ensure you say, you need to check with husband/son (as the case may be) and give it to her in installments, as ‘we don’t have that sort of money, you know?’. Ofcourse, she doesn’t know about those 15 sovereigns of gold (and unused assorted silver lamps) in the cupboard.
Note: Effective Annual Savings: Marginal amount of milk saved: 75 ml a day * 365 days = 27 LITRES! Gosh, sounds huge when you see it this way!
Step 4: Recycle, Recycle.
Now, now, we aren’t talking about recycling Plastic/glass or any other thing that the Western world is so hell bent on using, to make the world a Greener place. We are referring to the Art of recycling gifts. (Do Read Salil’s post on this, its one of a kind!)
Now, let’s set a few ground rules here.
* Gifts for strangers – Go for that cheap plastic ‘lemon set’ that Patta maami recycled (er, gave) you as a house-warming gift. Ensure you peel off her husband’s ‘Retired Mr.So-On-So’ Visiting Card that also served as a ‘Gift Message Tag’. Ensure you paste your own husband’s visiting card.. er.. gift Tag, instead. And most important, cram in names of EVERY FAMILY MEMBER so you economise by giving one single gift. Also shows how ‘close’ the family is, doesn’t it?
* Gifts for close relatives – Look for a tattered envelope, chuck in an even more tattered 500-rupee-note, and again, remember to cram in names of entire family on the envelope, and if there is space, write in a ‘congratulations/happy birthday..blah..blah’ message too. Now, you can display your family’s diminishing fortunes, by using a ‘used envelope’ and striking out the existing name from it, and writing your recipient’s name below! Ta da!
* Gifts for VIP relatives – For instance.. your ‘Sammandhi-amma / Samdhi-ji’…(and by that, it is strictly meant, ‘Divine MIL of Daughter’ (NOT Mom of DIL)), then make sure you get out that tiny stock of ‘phaarin scent’ that ‘Rukku Maami’s son sent from Kaalifourniya’ and actually gift-wrap it for the big occasion.
Gold is an everlasting investment, as everyone knows. Most TamBram households regularly invest in a chit fund or gold chit.
Ting Tong! Maturity time… Now you have 12 months of savings.. say, about Rs. 6000. Woohoo…you have a choice of investing (ahem!) that into white or yellow metal. That is, traditional Chit companies usually offer either stainless steel utensils or gold. So you can either get that stainless steel ‘paniaram pan’ you never wanted OR that pair of old-fashioned fake-looking-pearl earrings you never liked!
But wait, if you do want to buy a decent piece of Gold jewellery during Akshaya Tritiya.. er.. the last I heard, one gram cost about Rs.1600. So you can get.. er..3.5 grams.. but hey! we forgot the making charges..wastage..blah blah!
Whatever! The emphasis here is on ‘regular / forced savings’ and not ‘unnecessary spending’.
Note: Effective Annual Savings: Er..whatsavings? We’ve invested everything into metal !!!
So there! Traditional Tips for a Modern Lifestyle! Go on, Save, Save and Save this year 🙂
I triumphantly walked into Prince Jewellery to buy a gold chain. My mum’s shopping tip: ‘Always carry cash, it might earn a discount’. So I first withdrew Rs.15000 from the ATM. And borrowed another Rs.5000 from mum.
After scanning rows and rows of shelves filled with dazzling gold, I finally zeroed in on a nice, simple chain, and a pair of thin ring earrings (like the kind my mum always wore when she was younger). I asked for a pair of dangling pearl earrings too, but the silly shop didn’t have any. Their loss, I swore.
So, the sales guy placed the chosen jewellery on a nice velvety tray and weighed it, and turned his calculator to me.
I could have sworn I almost fainted.Rs.44000! Rs.44000? Rs.44000 for a THIN chain and a THIN earring?!
‘Free Gift Madam…microwave dabba’, he said, rubbing salt into the wound!
Thank God I had my last mobile (yeah, the same dabba LG one, that now flickers like a bloo** tubelight when I unlock it :-(). I made this imaginary call to my mum, who was ‘supposedly the intended recipient of the gift of jewellery’. And then cut the line, and told the salesman, ‘Sorry, she wants to choose it herself! I’ll be back tomorrow’. The guy gave a knowing smile, and pushed the tray back under the table.
And I scooted out of the shop! Terribly upset.
I mean, how do people ever afford gold these days? Wedding albums are full of skinny women sagging under the weight of kasumalais (rani-haar ?) and voddianams.
(My meandering mind reminds me of my wedding day, when I refused to wear any jewellery other than the basic stuff. When my in-laws tried to make me wear a voddianam, refusal wasn’t an option. So they brought me a little neice’s gold voddianam and tried to put it around me. To be fair, it did go halfway around. Luckily, the metal that Gold is, it doesn’t stretch. So they had to take it away).