Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Friday, 8 January 2016

Who's Standing On Your Financial Hose?

In Auroville, I am about to move all my shit to the room around the corner from me. Instead of tiles on the floor, there is cement. I will switch from a double to a single bed. And the neutral odour in my current place will morph into the faint smell of mildew.  In all, I will save 150 rupees per night. After two nights, this means 300 rupees. So like just over 6 bucks Canadian. Do I feel smug? A little bit. And also maybe pathetically frugal. 

Internet in Auroville has demonstrated selective fatigue and is unfortunately unable to upload photos of my mildewed and un-mildewed room. And so instead, here is Matrimindir, Auroville's pride and Golden Ball. Rather a symbol of Wealth...
Amazingly quickly, I have adapted to thinking in Indian currency. The other day I was considering buying some guava fruit from a fruit lady.

“Oh no, too expensive,” I said, learning that two small pieces cost 30 rupees. At the time, it seemed scandalizing to pay more than 20 rupees for two larger ones. I walked away. In India, the Canadian dollar gets you about 48 rupees. For my daily budget, I aim for 1500 rupees or less. Accommodation and most often transportation included. This works out to around 1000 Canadian dollars per month. You’d be hard pressed to live so cheaply in Canada, even in Montreal. I hate doing this, but for the month of December, I kept track of all the money I spent. It was a total pain in the ass; however, I was able to observe that most days I spent less than 1000 rupees, and some days my total was as low as 297, 400 and 430. Yay me.

Oh money. What a relationship. I have always had a sort of superstitious view of money. Like you shouldn’t worry too much about it, or you’ll go broke. And I am afraid to look at how much I actually have, or how much I’m spending, for fear I’ll discover I’ve totally fucked up. And yet, the reality is, I am exceptionally responsible and resourceful when it comes to money. Having just inched across the poverty line, these days, I am set up so that I can live in India with minimal income until around April. And although I am not being super proactive about getting translation and writing contracts, most likely something will come my way. Despite all my doubts and fretting, I will almost certainly be okay.

“Always pay your credit card bill on time.” My father once told me this. It was the only financial advice he ever gave me. And except for during a year of poverty post-university, I have always paid my bills in full, usually weeks in advance. I’ve had the good fortune of being on the receiving end of generosity. To help me out while I was starving after graduation, a dear friend gave me a gift of 2000 dollars. Soon afterwards, I met the Boatman and he invited me to live in his home rent free for more than a year. Sometimes this is kind of embarrassing to admit. Like I am a charity case and can’t pull off shit on my own. And well, I really truly hope I can pay forward all this kindness someday soon.

Which brings me to the 300 rupees I am about to save. Back in Delhi, I found a financial book in my friend Fern’s fancy apartment. A small bright pink paperback, it was called, “The Naked Accountant Asks, Who’s Standing on Your Financial Hose?” The Naked Accountant’s name is Jean Backus. Like the title, the book is somewhat abominably written, although it begins with an interesting story about a car accident. The book costs about 13 dollars but once you are done with it, you are encouraged to pass it on, which I imagine decreases the overall profits.
Who's Standing On Your Financial Hose?
My self-help book only costs $2.99, including the excellent pictures. So far, Amazon hasn’t given me any money for it since I haven’t hit 100 bucks in royalties. I wonder how much money Amazon is banking from aspiring authors who earn nineteen dollars each. Oh well. Perhaps it is my act of generosity. To Amazon, and to the Universe.
Naked Accountant Jean Backus compares the journey towards financial freedom to a road trip from Austin, Texas to Boulder, Colorado. Creative analogy. She recommends replacing the Scared Small Fretting Child and Ego Bully into the respective Wonder Child and Co-Creator. The Small Fretting Child and the Ego Bully have deep and paralyzing doubts about their ability to thrive financially. They are afraid they will never have enough and constantly criticize your higher and/or deeper self for your seemingly poor financial choices. Unlike the Small Fretting Child and Ego Bully, the Wonder Child and Co-Creator view the universe as an abundant place of great wealth. (It seems they have never been to India…) They approach the world with awe, and are committed to figuring out exciting solutions to all your financial issues.  I’m afraid I may not have the concepts or terminology exactly right since I left my copy of Who’s Standing on Your Financial Hose in Rishakesh, in a dusty, mildewed room that cost 200 rupees per night.

One thing I do remember is the importance of envisioning your chequing account as a living, breathing organism. I have been giving this a try.

“Chequing account,” I say. “You Are Alive.” So far I have made 400 bucks.

In any case, it is time for me to switch over to my cheap and mildewed room. I wonder what exciting thing I will do with the extra 300 rupees.

If you would like to hire me for exceptional financial advice, do let me know. Naked or not, I would love to discover who’s  standing on your financial hose.

The End.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there! I stumbled upon yer blog and I'm loving your style of writing. I'm originally from Halifax, but just moved out to Victoria this fall. Your blog makes me feel like I'm hanging out with a coooool friend.