Navigating One Year With No Expenses

Navigating One Year with No Expenses – Podcast Transcript

Samyuktha: On this episode of the ithoughtwealth podcast, we’re going to talk about how you could go a whole year without spending money on a particular category of expenses. This time we’re going to talk about real experiences and get hands-on tips from someone who’s been there and done that. This is Samyuktha and joining me is Rashmika.

Rashmika: Hi Everyone. Thank you, Samyuktha for having me today.

Samyuktha: Hi Rashmika – I know that you’ve managed almost two years without adding any clothes to your wardrobe. That seems like a pretty remarkable feat, and I wanted to know how you got started on this entire journey.

Rashmika: This journey came to me a while back and it started off when I came across this documentary and a couple of videos which spoke about how the fast fashion industry functions. When I saw those videos, I honestly felt like I was living under a rock and didn’t know anything about what was going on. That let to a bit of introspection from my end. I began thinking about what I could do, and what would be my part. My reason for not shopping came from an ethical and sustainable living aspect. And a by-product was also my financial health and money. I did manage to save a little bit more rather than spend the amount.

Samyuktha: But going a whole year without buying clothes seems like a tall ask to me. I don’t know how you managed to go for two years. It seems like a big challenge and it is. So did you at any point find it difficult to stick to your goal? What do you say kept you motivated throughout?

Rashmika: I wouldn’t have really considered myself a shopaholic in the traditional sense of the word. I think I felt strongly for the reason why I didn’t want to shop. That was a very strong foundation for me. Also, I think if you get down to doing it a few months you realise that when you get tempted, you’d feel more inclined to saving the money rather than spending it. I did face temptation, but the monetary reward, looking at your bank balance higher every month, even marginally, kept me motivated. If I had to put a number on it, though I haven’t actively maintained a tab, I’d say that I would’ve easily saved ₹10K – ₹15K.

Samyuktha: In India, there’s a lot of social pressure to buy new clothes. For example, if there’s a wedding in a family, there’s almost no way to avoid buying new clothes. It’s a very normal expectation from those around you to encourage you to pick up something new for the occasion because they want it to be memorable.  There is also a social construct of not repeating clothes at different weddings or not showing up with the same clothes in the same circle. So how would you deal with that?

Rashmika: I think traditionally and culturally – those were the only times when people indulged and went shopping. It could either be for a festival like Diwali, or even some occasion that comes up in the family. But today, I don’t think people restrict themselves to shop at that time alone, but also go shopping otherwise. Every time someone walks into a store, I am sure they don’t just leave with one piece of garment. How I managed these situations in the last few years, is that I got hold of a few cloth materials which were bought earlier but never sewn. Or even got hold of clothes that were pretty new and styled as I liked.

Samyuktha: Here is the thing. When you go shopping, and even if you are being super conscious of how you spend money, you do manage to get a bill of ₹1.5K to ₹2.5K. So if I was a conscious shopper, I would want to take advantage of sales. Most of us are trying to get the best deals on what we buy. What do you think about that?

Rashmika: A couple of years ago we had sales at restricted times, probably around Diwali or Pongal, and even down south during Adi. That is usually when shops would have a ‘Sale’. But today, I feel that every second month there is some sale or the other either online or local. This is just pushing for consumption, and there are times when we get the same deals over and over again. Also, many times I have noticed where people don’t really wait for a sale to come around but feel it is okay to spend a little bit more and acquire the item right away. I feel it has a lot to do with the marketing strategy. You can buy your essentials at any point and do a few planned purchases. But there is no long wait for sales, it happens very often these days.

Samyuktha: That’s very insightful. For a lot of us, we feel the need to be fashionably dressed. So, this means that we shop often. You can’t wait for a whole year. It is tough. Could you actually draw a line between being fashionable and well dressed or well put together?

Rashmika: There are certain professions where you have to be creative and play around with fashion, and that is completely okay. Fortunately, I am not in that line so I can manage to cut down on that aspect from both, a financial and an ecological standpoint. I think there are many influencers and trends out there where people put up content online. It is not necessarily the mainstream fashion, but also about sustainably managing your wardrobe but also shaping it around your style. It is also about how to recycle and reuse. I think people should search for that kind of content and follow it to save a bit of money. And also, as many people put it, it is important to buy your basics and build a bit on that. If you look at it in a traditional sense as to why clothing is important and then tie it down to what you have, you would be able to manage your finances better. I’m not advocating that you avoid being fashionable. But you can avoid burning a hole in your pocket by looking beyond prevailing trends.

Samyuktha: There are some real gems in what you’re saying. Particularly, love the idea that style is a personal expression of values. Your values are sustainable consumption and ethically sourcing materials. Or even the idea of having a capsule wardrobe where you have only the classic pieces that don’t change with the trend and will still help you remain well-dressed.

It’s incredible that you’ve kept this up for two years. I’ve been quite inspired by this and have managed a month and a half so far. From what I notice, there’s a very strong purpose to this change you’ve made in your lifestyle. And that’s really tiding you through. Because you always come back to the questions – “Is this something I want to consume?” or “Is this something I’m okay with?” And this concept could be applied to any other aspect of our lives. Potentially, we could eliminate any expenses that we want to – whether it’s eating out, using private transport less, etc. Before we end the podcast, what are some general hacks that you could share for someone who’s trying to cut back on costs?

Rashmika: A few pointers that helped me, and could help a few of you are; Firstly we get caught up in trying to make the perfect budget and trying to stick to it. There is one more step that we miss before drawing up a budget is that we need to become more mindful about our expenses. How do we achieve that?

It is not a very natural process for people today, especially given that most of the time transactions happen digitally and we only look at the bank statement at the end of the month. We easily succeed in justifying our expenses. I haven’t met a person who has introspected and felt that ‘Oh! This expense was unnecessary’ while looking at the statement. I think going back to the old pen and paper method and jotting down each of your expenses will help. It is also important to stop and think for a minute before you make a purchase about why you need it, will help you be more mindful. So, start off by being mindful and jotting down all your expenses for a couple of months. Categorize and understand where your leakages are. The second would be to question every purchase. The third is to prioritize your expenses and learning to say NO.

We all have social obligations. But a lot of times we need to find alternative activities that don’t burn a hole in our pockets. It is also okay to say NO from time to time. These are a few things that we should think about and I am sure this will help us cut down on costs.

Samyuktha: Thanks, Rashmika for these learnings. The point that you are trying to make with prioritizing is that we need to learn to spend on what makes us happy. Most of the time we associate prioritizing to ‘No, don’t do this’, but here it just means ‘Focus on what makes you happy’.

Thank you for listening to us! If you’ve managed to eliminate an expense from your life, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a message or comment on this post.

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