Money in the pickle barni: Saving tips to learn from our mothers

. 6 min read . Written by Muskan Miglani
Money in the pickle barni: Saving tips to learn from our mothers

From my gait to my mental state, there’s nothing I don’t talk to my mother about. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be exactly like my mother; the way she talks, the way she carries herself, the way she makes people around her feel special, and the way she is super dependable, it’s almost unreal. Over the years my perception changed and found myself wanting to be a different person.

Yet, some of her lessons never failed me.

Whether it’s using vinegar on haldi stains, establishing boundaries in relationships, or even saving money for rainy days, I know my mom’s way is the right way.

One thing I never understood though, was how she always managed to have money in her hands. Even without a source of income, my mother never had to frown at the thought of money.

How’d she done it? Well, I asked her, and here are the pearls of wisdom she shared with me. Some of them are classics, while others are simply mind-boggling. Read on as I dive headfirst into my money-saving journey, courtesy of my mother’s saving tips and tricks.

1.   Rice jar for rainy days

It’s no surprise that women used to save money in rice jars and grain sacks in the olden days. What is surprising is that this is a fool-proof way of saving money. My mother tells me that whenever my nani got her hands on the month’s money, she would quietly take out a small amount and stash it away. My mother is following suit.

The idea is that if you save before you spend, you will spend on a budget.

When your means are restricted, your expenses become restricted too.

My rice jar is my alternate savings account, my brother’s is a mutual fund investment, and yours could be a stable stock.

2.   Gold is gold

Whenever I talk about buying jewellery, my mother insists I buy gold. This is something I never related to, because no one ever said “Gold is a woman’s best friend”. But if my mother is to be believed, it is.

This is because investing in gold is a safer option when viewed from the point of reselling it. The making charges are lower, the wear and tear on gold is less compared to diamonds, and it is easier to sell. Gold also makes for an ideal form of investment for people not willing to take a lot of risks.

Additionally, buying gold as a married woman ensures that she has something to her name, lest something goes south.

If you’re averse to buying gold directly, one can always invest in Sovereign Gold Bonds issued by the GoI. You can invest in as little as 1 gram, enjoy capital appreciation on it, and redeem full cash value at the time of maturity (5-8 years).

3.   Budgeting is better

To run out of money at the end of the month is not something I’m new to. But the concept of budgeting has always eluded me. I know I spend on essentials, and creating a budget is not going to change that for me.

Coffee dates and beer crates are still going to top the list. Why try budgeting then?

My mother told me how budgeting helps her get control of her spending. Having already taken out the amount she wishes to save, she creates a budget with what she has left. Once she writes down her expenses, she is able to strike off the non-essentials. Suddenly, the Prime Video subscription and weekly manicure trips don’t seem half as important.

4.   Split the stash

Once when I found my mother pulling money out of the rice jar, I knew she would have to start her savings from scratch. Well, I couldn’t be more wrong. When I asked her, she said she’d run out of one of her stashes only.

Every time she saves, she splits the money into two places- one of them is accessible, something she can reach for during emergencies, while the other one is a more permanent option. When she reaches the desirable amount on her permanent stash, she puts that money in the bank account.

Finance gurus and investment experts often emphasise the importance of investing in multiple forms. Your money should be divided into liquid assets (like savings account, corporate bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, and stocks), and fixed investments (like govt. bonds, debentures, investing in property).

In my case that would be in buying an ETF or starting up an SIP, but the premise is the same.

5.   Spend, but to an end

If these tips give you the idea that my mother does not splurge money, I have been narrating it all wrong. Every few months I watch my mother donning her favourite sunglasses, brandishing her favourite bag, and leaving for the market.

She sets her financial goals in place, and once she finds that she has a perfect balance, she takes a break. She spends money on her favourite things so the shopaholic in her does not relapse. Taking out a part of your savings and spending it on yourself is the basis of the principle:

When you come into money, pay yourself first.

This ensures that you don’t get tired of the process of saving money. But even while spending, the prerequisite is to set a spending limit. What helps my mother is that she only carries as much as she is willing to spend each time.

6.   Committed to the committee

When I wanted to buy an iPhone from my own salary, my mother’s solution was simple: enter her friends’ committee.

It’s like having an interest-free EMI plan for my expensive purchases.

Confused about the concept of committees? A committee is an informal setup where people pool a certain amount of money every month, and one member gets to take that amount home. This lasts for months, till every member gets the amount they contributed each month. If you put in ₹500 every month for 12 months, you will get to take ₹6000 one of these months.

From Tupperware and bedsheets to phones and personal care, my mother finds herself at ease when spending her committee money. To a lot of people, the idea of putting money into a committee might sound banal, but the premise is sophisticated. It’s like saving money for a year to buy your favourite laptop, instead, you can buy it now and keep saving for the rest of the year.

7.   Cash for a cause

My mother is a firm believer in contributing to the causes she believes in. Whether it’s something as menial as sending in a little cash to a school for the blind or buying stationery and books for the house-help’s children, no cause is too small for her.

This is not one of those tips that will grow your money, but it is surely one that will grant you the satisfaction of making the most of your savings.

8.   Make your money move

Lastly, the most important lesson I’ve adopted from my mother is that it’s important to move your money around.

She never keeps her temporary savings in one place for too long. She paddles between her many secret options.

Borrowing from her experience, I too try to move my money around a little. If I have been invested in a fluctuating stock for too long, I try to get out and try something new as soon as the condition turns favourable. This keeps my head above the water even when faced with losses.

With a plethora of saving and investment offers available on the market, some of these tips might sound like just another “how to save money” blog. But when put to practice, these are the saving tips that never fail. The idea is not to make money, it is to save money to grow it through other sources. If done right, starting small can be the first of many steps one can take towards a financially secure future.

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