If I were answering the question ‘How do I save my money?’ before I quit my job in May 2015, my answer would be very different than today. While I was never superstitious about money, neither do I care about planting money plants at all but I was not a smart investor at all.
While I was working I had a very simple plan for saving. I would not spend too much and accumulate money. Being a business school professor I was not enamored with brands. I read too many case studies to spend my hard earned money on some fancy label. Some things I would buy branded, like my camera (Canon) but for others like my clothes, I was fine with whatever looked good. My love for travel would cost me money but then my blog ensured that a lot of my trips were sponsored!
For me saving was always important as both of us worked in the private sector. We wanted to have a few months (or years) worth of salary saved as it provided stability in an uncertain environment.
So I would get my salary (six figure for the last few years, there, I said it) credited on a particular date of the month. I would take care of my monthly expenditures like petrol, mobile bill, some sundry expenditure and that was it. Like any salaried person I would invest in tax saving instruments too. I have a DMAT account where I have invested a small portion of my money. But a large amount of my money simply sat in my savings account.
When my savings account balance went above a limit, I would take an international vacation! That was my indulgence, my vice. But then I left my job, not only I left my job, I left it without any plans. As I said before, I have about three years’ worth of salary saved. That is my pot. And I have a husband who is extremely supportive of my decision and he works full time!
Suddenly there was no more salary getting credited. But I still let my money sit in the savings account. It is a decent pot for my medium term needs. I am earning a bit from freelancing which takes care of my monthly expenditure. Earning from freelancing is not a problem, but getting paid on time is. But that is a story for another time!
Then I visited the website of Birla Sunlife and it was really like #JanoTohMano. I saw the expected returns on various options. And guess what, the savings account gave me the lowest rate of interest! And yet for all my working years a large portion of money was simply lying in my salary account. Even now half the money of my pot is in my savings account.
Now I am someone who has only a moderate risk appetite. I can’t put a major portion of my savings in stock market directly though I have some invested.
A few months back I shifted a large chunk into fixed deposits. That gets me more interest than my savings account. But I pay tax on the interest!
I have nothing invested in the mutual funds or public provident fund. At the moment my dire need is to invest in mutual funds given my risk appetite. They fetch higher returns. Once again being risk averse I would put only a small pie. But being a prudent investor I want to have a diversified portfolio and I wonder why I missed out on mutual funds completely for so many years!
If you also have a lot of money lying in your savings account, switch it to something that will fetch you higher returns. The younger you do it, the better it is for your health. Even a FD is better than savings account. If you wish to start small start with a SIP. I knew it all along but I was too busy earning and traveling till one day I stopped earning a salary! I now feel I should have diversified my portfolio years ago! However, it is never too late. So I am actively doing it now!
To sum it up, I feel happy that I saved. It let me quit my job with some amount of peace of mind! But now when I look back I feel I should have looked at the rate of returns earlier on! Sometimes just looking at a chart can provide so much food for thought. And I am going to be after the life of my nephews so that they start saving early, and much more smartly than I did!
For many, traveling is a way of life. You not only get to explore new destinations, cultures, and cuisines but, eventually, end up discovering a side of yourself that you never knew existed. But before you take the plunge, let’s take a look at some of the unexpected expenses that can catch you off-guard and derail your entire vacation.
Converting money at currency exchanges at the airport will incur an additional administrative charge. There is also a probability that ATMs around the airport will levy a hefty service charge on foreign debit or credit cards.
With the constant fluctuation in foreign exchange rates, your pre-planned budget can get out of hand. If you are on a shoestring budget, it is better that you put off your travel plans till you have saved enough to account for currency volatility.
You can deposit your luggage at the airport locker if it exceeds the baggage limit or if you don’t want to carry it around the city. Each airport has its own rate for locker storage. For instance, the New Delhi airport charges INR 80-600 depending upon the weight of your luggage and the period of storage.
Departure tax is an additional fee that a visitor incurs when they are leaving the country by air. Countries like China, Thailand, and Cambodia include departure fees in the airline tickets. While other countries like Egypt, Dominican Republic, and Indonesia charge travellers separately, often at the airport departure gate.
If you are booking a flight from Pune to London, you would have a layover at airports like Mumbai, Delhi, or Chennai. Many of these airports have different terminals for arrivals and departures that are quite far away from each other. Often, you’ll have to hire a cab or hop onto a coach if you want to make your connecting flight.
The amount charged for your visa depends on the duration of your stay at any destination. Make sure that you include visa expenses when creating a travel budget. Remember that you’ll have to make a run to the local embassy a couple of times, which will cost you both money and time.
Most often, airlines will track and return lost luggage as soon as possible. But in cases where there is a delay of more than 12 hours, it can be daunting if you don’t have the right financial resources to help you sustain your activities. Insurance will make sure that you are compensated for your lost luggage.
Keeping in touch with your loved ones back at home is important. Opting for international roaming plans or choosing a local network provider during your stay will keep you from being overcharged. You can also opt to use the hotel WiFi or the internet available at local cafes.
Buying travel insurance prior to the trip helps to avoid draining your resources during a medical emergency. Check out how Travel Health Insurance from
ICICI Lombard helps you deal with medical emergencies in case there’s any.
Many hotels charge additional fees for using room service, the mini bar, or even the internet. Before you zero-in on a hotel, make sure that you know what your final bill is going to look like.
Many a times we forget to factor in basic resources we might need every day. And sometimes, it can be as basic as the cost and availability of drinking water. You can’t determine the quality of drinking water available in your destination. Hence, it’s always a good idea to buy a packaged bottle of drinking water wherever you go. Though the cost of bottled water is often a minor expense, you can’t let it escape your budget if you want to micro-manage your entire trip.
If you rent a car for sightseeing or plan on touring with your own car, taking into account the parking charges is important. Though some hotels offer complimentary parking, it is always a good idea to clarify the charges with either the concierge or the parking attendant.
There are some activities you would know of only when you reach the destination. For instance, places like a flea market, a local fair, or adventure activities might not be listed anywhere. Include an amount for these contingencies while making a budget so that you are not caught off guard.
No bank has an ATM in every city, town or airport. To reduce the additional fees charged by ATMs, you can opt to carry more cash or find your bank’s nearest ATM. You could also use your credit card for shopping purposes while keeping your debit card exclusively for withdrawal. Travel checks and check cards can also come in handy if you can’t find a functioning ATM. Keep an emergency reserve of widely accepted currency separate from your other travel money. It can come handy during a crisis.
If you love to add that personal touch to all your travels, you might’ve considered taking your car on an extended road trip. Though it seems like an exciting venture, it can also lead to unforeseen costs like car repairs, constant refueling, and expensive roadside meals.
This would range from paying for entry to a botanical garden, amusement park or a museum to even paying tax for your camera at any site. Going through the charges for these sites will help you pre-plan your budget more effectively.
Countries like Japan, China, and Singapore do not expect you to tip porters or waiters. While countries in Europe expect visitors to leave tips for hospitality services that can generally be around 3-5% of your total bill.
Sometimes drastic weather like heavy rainfall or thunderstorms might just force you to postpone your return flight and extend your stay. Checking meteorological forecasts and planning for such a possibility, prior to leaving for the holiday, will save you from panicking later.
We all love to bring back souvenirs for our loved ones. But sometimes you might just overspend if you don’t settle on a budget and make a list of must-buys.
Sometimes an unforeseen incident can lead you to cancel your vacation. Make sure that you read up on the refund policies of the airline, hotel, resort, and other services before you book a trip.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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