Friday, July 29, 2011

Frugal Living

Money, Money, Money
Image and Graphics by Me :)

The modern world is driven by consumerism. Every minute of every day we are bombarded with messages buy goods and services, whether we need them or not, and more importantly, whether we can afford it or not. This type of impulsive consumerism causes people to live outside of their means, which will ultimately lead to debt.

Frugality on the other hand can be considered as the opposite of consumerism. It is defined by modern behavioural scientists as the tendency of acquiring good and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services to achieve a longer term goal. It isn’t about living a life of sacrifice and deprivation. It’s about living smarter, so that you can afford to live the life you want to live.
Being frugal is a personal lifestyle choice. It helps you to live within your means and to avoid impulsive spending habits. This will in the long run let your enjoy the things you have without being in debt.

Frugal living means:

  • Smarter money management.

  • Smarter spending

  • Harnessing your creativity

Make a budget. Know what you have in the bank and how much you need to cover the monthly bill so that it will allow you make better decision about how your money is spent. It will also help you to know where you stand in you debt repayments, saving goals and investments. These are key steps to taking charge of your money and making it work for you.

Smarter spending habits go hand in hand with smarter money management. Identify the price that you can afford and try to find the best deals until your expectations are met. Likewise, know when not to shop. Try to stick to the budget you made and not make any unnecessary purchases that doesn’t fit to it.
When you are dealing with limited resources, and you will have to be more creative to make the best of it. A frugal person can increase savings by reusing, repurposing and creating.

The following tips are from an article in the Reader’s Digest, written by Julie Rains, titled “8 Tips on how to stay frugal”. Unfortunately there is no online version of it available.

Don’t Let Frugality Inhibit your Ambition
You don’t have to earn less just because you want to live a frugal lifestyle. Have worthy goals in life and strive to achieve them. The key is not to make money the key factor that drives all you decision making, be it career of life.

Take Excellent Care of Yourself
Being frugal should improve your health and mental outlook and not be hazardous to your well beign. Eating healthily and regular exercises are key to healthy living.

Take Excellent Care of the Things You Own
When you take care and have proper maintenance of the things that you do own, they will last longer.

Stay on Top of Technology
Technology isn’t a bad thing. Used properly it can actually help you. These days, the newest technology is not a luxury, and many items are functional and helpful.

Go on Adventures
Frugality is spending what you have wisely and doesn’t mean never allowing yourself to splurge on trips you can afford.

Become an Expert in Something
Finding a hobby that interest you and devoting your time to it can distract you from the bombardment of marketing messages that push you to consume impulsively.

Be Nice to the Wealthy
Make friends and don’t worry about your differences in spending habits. Frugality is more about pursuing your dreams and not letting someone else define your successes. Saving a few Rupees and being debt free is just an added bonus.

Forgive Yourself for Frugal Lapses
Don’t be hard on yourself if dare to splurge once in a while.

A frugal lifestyle is identifying what you want in life and finding ways to achieve them through limited resources. A few rupees saved and invested don’t mean a life of depravation, but of possibilities. It’s a matter of conditioning your mind. Eventually, a frugal lifestyle will let you live a simple life.

Sources: Reader’s Digest, Wikipedia,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Some more Orchids from the Orchid House at the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Simple Life

Misty Mountains

Our lives run through the world like white water rapids, fast and furious. Focused solely on the end goal, and never noticing the calm and serenity of the shores on either side. If ever you decide to step on to the shore and observe, then you will realize that this world is bat shit crazy.

There is nothing wrong with having goals and living a fast paced life. Having goals and striving to achieve them gives a purpose to life, leading to happiness. However, the path to achieving these goals should not be at the expense of others. By others, it doesn’t mean just your fellow human beings, but the entire eco system that surrounds us. If the price of your success is the destructions of your fellow man, then that is not real success at all.

Sadly the situation is such in the world that success at any cost has become a necessity. Resources available for our consumption are limited and dwindling day by day. Competition to acquire these limited resources is fierce. There are many people out there who are unable even to satisfy their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. On the other hand, our levels of satisfaction have also increased. Now it is not just about satisfying our need, but pursuing our wants as well. Our materialistic possessions have become the standards to which our lives are measured. So it is natural that people will want to have more of these materialistic possessions, sometimes by any means necessary.

The idea of simple living covers several different voluntary practices to simplify one’s lifestyle. It is characterized by the fact that individuals are satisfied by their needs, rather than their wants. This doesn’t mean that one has to be an ascetic. An ascetic life is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various form of worldly pleasure, often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. This can be considered as an extreme form of simple living. It is also not forced poverty, because it’s a voluntary life style. The basic idea of simple living is to control oneself so that satisfying your needs and wants doesn’t lead to a harmful existence to yourself and others.

The following are some common reasons why people opt for a simple living lifestyle.

  • Spirituality

  • Health

  • Increase in “quality time” with family and friends

  • Reducing their personal ecological footprint

  • Stress reduction

  • Personal taste

  • Frugality

  • Socio-political goals aligned with the anti-consumerist movement

  • Conservation

  • De-growth

  • Social justice

  • Ethnic diversity

  • Sustainable development

There are several ways to achieve a state of simple living. The following can be considered as the main ones.

Reducing expenditure, income and possessions
Reduce expenditure on goods and services, in doing so it is possible to live on less income, to reduce income and the time spent on earning money. This time saved can be used in other ways, like spending with family and friends.

Unfortunately the present prices of even the basic commodities are high, and to people need higher incomes to survive.

Increasing self-sufficiency
Simply put, grow your own food. Self-sufficiency will reduce dependency on money and the economy. Although a large plot of land will produce more crops, pot gardens and miniature indoor greenhouses can also provide fresh home grown fruit and vegetables for city dwellers.

Not everybody can do this. To make it successful, you have to love gardening in the first place. Otherwise you won’t have the patience or the interest to grow your own food.

Reconsidering technology
Some technology can help you to live simply. Some people see the Internet as a key component of simple living in the future, including the reduction of an individual's carbon footprint through telecommuting and less reliance on paper.

Simplifying diet
Eat food with nutrition value, and give up junk food. If you want to take it further, become a vegan.

You don’t have to do all of these, or go to extreme forms of simple living. First, take an analytical look into you lifestyle see what are the unimportant things that you can give up. Then you can start to reduce them and finally eliminate them. This will ultimately help you lead a stress free and happy life.


Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Food Rules

I have been neglecting the old blog lately. Life and its problems tend to throw a wrench into cogs and disrupt the normalcy. However, there is no point in wallowing in them. Dust it off and move on.

For one thing, years of bad eating habits and junk food finally caught up with me. So I’ve turned into a bit of a health nut now. Well, more of a “forcibly turned into” one. That is why I thought I’d share this article from the Reader’s Digest. It’s written by Michael Pollan, and offers a few simple rules to eating healthy without losing your appetite. I’ve put down a summary of it below, and you can read the full article here:

Rule #1: Eat Food
Eat real food and try to avoid processed foods.

Rule #2: Eat food that will eventually rot
Real food is alive and it should eventually rot. Rotting happens when bacteria and fungi start feed on it. In processed food, some of these nutrients are taken out to extend their shelf life. The more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious it typically is.

Rule #3: Eat your colors
The colors of fruits and vegetables reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain, which helps protect against chronic diseases, but each in a slightly different way. So the best protection comes from a diet that contains many different phytochemicals as possible. The more colorful (naturally, not with artificial coloring) the food is, the healthier it is.

Rule #4: “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’d be dead”
As far as the body is concerned, white flour is not much different from sugar. It offers non of the good things in wholegrain and is little more than a shot of glucose.

Rule #5: Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
By eating a diet that is primarily plant based, you’ll be consuming fewer calories, since plant food are usually less “energy dense” than other things you eat.

Rule #6: Stop eating before you are full
Various cultures have different sayings on this. The Japanese counsel people to stop eating when they are 80% full, and Indian Ayurvedic tradition advises eating till you are 75% full.

Rule #7: Eat sweet food as you find them in nature
In nature, sugar almost always comes packaged with fiber which slows their absorption levels.

Rule #8: Break the rules once in a while
You don’t have to be a stickler for the rule. Break them once in a while and enjoy the food. My idea is stick to the rules at home and then you can break the rules when you are out, unless you always eat from out.

Rul3 #9: Pay more, Eat less
If you spend more on better quality food, then you are more likely to eat less of it and treat it with more care. Choose quality over quantity.

Rule #10: Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
The higher the number of ingredients, more likely they are to be highly processed.

Today, our lifestyles have changed from that of our grandparents, even our parents, times. For lives always on the go, junk food has become the dietary norm. I remember my grandparents always had balanced diets for all their meals. Even my mother is like that. I, on the other hand, am quite the opposite. Believe me; it will eventually catch up with you. Once you are on a healthier diet, you will actually feel the difference.

Pic from here: