Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spending habits: Some revelations

Spending habits of a person can easily tell loads about them. An account statement is about as intimate as you can get to a person's mind and the ideas churning there. We can easily segregate people into different classes based on their spending habits (loves travel, food connoisseur, movie buff, sports fan, art enthusiast, book lover, etc). Everyone has got their vices and pleasures. And that is what makes the world fun to be in.

I'm usually conscious about my spending but don't really get into a budget overdrive (I've done it maybe two months!). However, as I was reviewing my accounts after a long time (yeah, so much so that I don't know what happened to some of the stuff I had and had to start afresh with some left to "Gandhi kanakku"), I found interesting patterns to emerge.

When I moved Neverland, I was given some money(some big money - compared to my grad student state) to cushion the move. I assumed that it would last me the whole of the card's life term. But, yesterday, I found that I had blown some four-fifths of that money within four months. Woah! Wait a minute! Where did it all go? True! Some of it went for travel (ok! I'm nuts about travel and the experiences it'll give - I'd rather give $100 for an experience than for something I can take home - one that would finally become junk) that I'm doing in the coming months and for the recent trips I did with friends and cousins (not to mention my move). And some of it went for the new place (of course! THE bed of mine). And some of it went for shopping (yup! I've spent more than $200 in Bath and Body works alone) for stuff. The rest? Agreed, I paid my bills (atleast most of them) with this card. Shave off some $60 per month for that. That still takes away only $250 for four months.

One thing that jumps out of the statements is my long standing relationship with Airtel. I'm this compulsive home-caller whose mom is a skype-hater. A perfect situation where Airtel-customer love can grow like crazy. I need to call my mom every single night before I go to sleep. And my mom is this person who just hates talking over skype. I've charged this card of mine exactly 38 times(all in dimensions of $25) to airtel. No wonder I keep getting calls from airtel's customer center saying that I'm eligible for this promotion and that. At this rate, I'd be eligible for all the promotions they've got. Ok! I hear your *&#$&*@ words. But I guess that I pay more for the convenience of calling my mom and talking to her for hours whenever I feel like it rather than the actual talking that we do. So, this is still a worthy spend but guess I'll share my love between airtel and reliance from now on. Just so, flying under the radar :P

Another trend was that all my saving bursts were followed by spending bursts(if you can call not spending as saving) on this card. Or rather, spending bursts were followed by guilt laden saving bursts. Its all in the way you look at it, you see! But knowing me, I'd be more satisfied with the spending bursts and would let the experience sink in totally before I search for the next one. The gap would have been my saving burst. It was not intentional for sure! Wonder what will happen if I go on a spending high for too long. Would I crave the saving phase just for the change of it? Or would I need to spend more and more to be satisfied?

Looking back, I'm glad I spent the money on travel (tickets, car rentals, experiences, etc - though most of the fun came from being with friends and that's priceless!), treats (again this was money well spent), gifts (I'll do it again without batting an eyelid) and of course, shopping (despite all the bills, I feel that I have chosen well - saving where it is needed and spending where needed). One of the few regrets I had was spending on my bed. I wasn't thinking straight that evening and wanted a bed THEN for I had had a bad sleep before. But that didn't happen (the bed got delivered only the next morning - by which time, I was kicking myself and hard!). Though I love my bed now, I know that it is not the best of decisions I took. It could've been a bigger purchase and worse mistake. That incident made me understand the power of instant gratification. I thought I had worked it out of me but nope! I still need that. But now, I know the limits. The rest got covered in groceries (small things DO add up), dinners with friends (still can't forget the yummy Thai Kitchen :) and the small perks from time to time.

On hindsight, I also found that I hadn't planned well for it. I was working in the dark and the good spends I did were a result of sheer luck and lack of temptations before me. I had frankly not thought to use Airtel a whole lot. My usage in grad school was ridiculous (around $100 a month) but this is outrageous (2.5x times it!). Frankly, I had forgotten what it is to start a house from scratch (one of the ills of non-frequent moving - you forget what it is to move and start anew). So, alpine, time to plan things better.

Another thing that popped up was the change in my lifestyle from being a student to an employee. Some things that were reserved as treats have now become 'yet-another-thing'. Like heat-and-eat dinners! They were a treat when in grad school now I do it more out of habit or boredom to cook than for the experience of it. I'm getting less happiness at the same value. I'm not sure if this is the right way to think about it but yeah, I love this experiment. Lets see where it takes me! Btw, I'm seriously considering making some more changes to my lifestyle at Neverland, just to test the limits of what luxury means to me :) What is life if not change?

How are your spending habits? Do you see changes in your lifestyle after big transitions like graduation, wedding, divorce, loss, etc?


Syrals said...

Good to hear about your transition from grad student to an employee. Is your convocation over?

I think it was similar to my post grad spending habits too. I love shopping :)
However, after marriage I reduced a lot of shopping and focused on saving. I have to admit I still enjoyed spending whatever amount I could. Be it clothes or travelling.

After losing my job, spending further reduced. There was no shopping for a long long time. Then N graduated. Spending increased and now again it is back to no or low spending days.

I am totally looking forward to getting back to the normal spending days soon. :)

Aths said...

I spend a lottt... and am never guilty of it :-)

Clothes and books are my main wallet attractions. :P I already spent about 150 bucks on clothes last month and I am giving it a rest, so now I am digging into books, and whoo, am I more satisfied?!? Although I buy books faster than I read them, it makes me so happy I keep going back to it!

I do my accounts weekly, so no surprises for me, and I usually know where the money goes, and if it's time to pull the strings tighter!

Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

ah , well money spent on ourselves , is money well spent , money spent on others is selfless spending of money(its good thing isnt it ?) , and u also help the retail industry thrive . Money spent shopping , is giving away money in return for bliss. . Yes yes i know , no wonder I am depressed every time i look at my bank balance , but there are so many things in the world waiting for me to buy them :D. . Hey and a good soft fluffy bed is very very very very very important :D

alpine path said...

@Syrals, yup! Done with 'The Walk' :) Now that you're back on work, I'm sure the spending days are right around the corner. Doing our bit for the economy :D

@Aths, mmm. I've finally hit on one plan that has made things a lot smoother and makes me feel a lot less guilty on spending for clothes and icecream! Lets see how well this holds out...

@Fantasies of a lifetime, well said! I so totally need you here. :) Btw, yup! the soft fluffy bed is giving some really interesting dreams ;) ;) Care to talk about invading alien world filled with icecream and chocolate and most exciting novels? :D