Let’s face it. Bombay is not a very cheap place to live in, especially when you’ve come down to live alone and make something of yourself. With no family, or friends to support you, it can be challenging, especially financially. Most people come down to Bombay to WORK, and work hard they will. But often times, what you earn may not be enough to support yourself for a living. Here are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind for any newbee in the city!
Fix a budget
This has to be a weekly task. Whether you’ve come down to Bombay for the first time, living alone, or you have family down here, it’s a good idea to create and follow a budget on a weekly basis. Over the weekdays, I try to maintain a budget of 500/-. This is to cover my expenses for food, and the minimal travel I require to go to work and back. I give myself a little bit of a leeway over the weekends anywhere from 700-800/-, sometimes pushing it to a 1000/-, on the days I’m feeling lucky. To live on your own means you’re going to have to look out for food, travel, and basic necessities for survival. You’re going to have to make some sacrifices. My realistic budget is anywhere from 1000-1500/- per week . That’s about 4-5K on a monthly basis, which doesn’t include rent! I think keeping your budget to 7-10K is ideal when living on your own. What’s most important is you realize how you’re going to divide your budget, and plan it accordingly.
Binge down on the alcohol!
I didn’t start drinking until I moved to Bombay. That’s 24 years down the line, I had never touched a drink, until I moved here. Mind you, I am not an intense drinker, but moving to such a chaotic, bustling city, you feel like having a drink or two to unwind every now and then. I don’t say there’s anything wrong in that, but you gotta make sure you keep it to a minimum if you want to live cheap. If you’re not accustomed to the fast and exciting pace of this city, you’ll feel like going out and partying every now and then, but make sure you’re smart about it. Alcohol costs anywhere form 150-500/- at some of the popular pubs and bars here. Of course, the cheap bars are other options, but you better make sure you know where you’re going, and better yet, with a local who knows his or her way around.
Public transport is the way! It can be comfortable too…
If you’re like me and don’t own a car, or have to rely on your friends to hop into a car, you’re probably going to have to resort to public transport to get around the city. To be honest, I detest crowds and chaos, as you face in the local trains, roads, market places, or anywhere really! But you gotta make some sacrifices, if you want to use your money wisely. Buses, trains, and autos are the most convenient modes of transport. You can always book monthly passes which can range anywhere from 200-500/- depending on your route in the city. Autos always have a convenient fixed rate through the meter, so there’s no need to worry about haggling. I personally find buses in Bombay extremely convenient, and you might opt for this if you want to avoid the sweaty ball of chaos at the train stations. On days where you just can’t deal with heat and utter madness, you can always book for a cab. Some cabs, such as the Ola, provide services to take you around the entire city for an entire day within 500-600/-! What’s better than that?
Avoid fancy restaurants or pubs all the time
The glitz and the glamour will really tempt you every now and then to SPLURGE, whether it’s on food or otherwise. When living on your own, splurging really is a luxury. So this is a great lesson to control temptations. Being an only child, I’ve had the benefit of being quite pampered, but even then, my parents have made sure that I haven’t been spoiled. Perhaps that’s why I’m able to resist and really understand the value for money. If you’re already cut short on money for the week, why don't you opt for some really great street snack options, that are not only cheap but just as delicious? There are mini cafes, juice shops, pani Puri stands, vada pav stalls, and so many scrumptious varieties of eating joints in almost every corner of Bombay. Make the most of it. At the same time, you avoid burning a hole in that wallet of yours.
Get your priorities straight
I can’t emphasize on this enough! Living on my own has really taught me to prioritize and manage my responsibilities. My order of priorities range in this descending order: from my health, to family, to work, down to my social life. I accordingly divide my expenses. With so much freedom and excitement at bay, Bombay really gives you a taste of thrill. If you’re not prepared for it, you can abuse this to the core. Or use it as a lesson to grow and become a responsible, mature adult. It is a city that preps you to make something of yourself; you really need to sort out your priorities before doing anything else. This will aid in managing your financial situation as well.
Share and save
Bombay is a city where you give and take in return. With the pot of opportunities brimming constantly, every individual may appear to be self-oriented. However, with a little bit of faith and hope, you will learn to give yourself more and more to the city and its people till you become one with it. In the context of your finances, I have learned to become one with whoever I meet here. To survive, you need to help each other out, whether that’s through sharing responsibilities or even expenses sometimes. Rooming up with a partner or more is a smart idea if you’re coming here to live alone. Socialize and embed yourself into the culture that is Mumbai. You’re going to want to share yourself with everyone, rather than close yourself off. You never know who can be of huge help to you. Even then, don’t just rely on others. Make sure to keep saving up, rather than spending your salary away. Of course treat yourself every now and then, but the satisfaction of truly rewarding yourself one day with your own savings is going to be worth even more!