Mastering Food Budget – A Client Story

I’ve got a story for you today! Grab a chair have a read … the aha moment is just beautiful.

This client of mine, let’s call her Leela. She lives with her husband and two kids and two sets of parents a few steps away from her place. A young mother herself, she was doing a fabulous job of being there for the two sets of elderly parents, balancing the social dynamics and all with admirable poise. Now and then, she would think of buying this or that as a way of adding to her convenience – for instance, chopped onions, peeled garlic or washed cauliflower ready to use – and she would say – ‘oh this, I can’t fit in Girija .. it costs extra and it adds up.’

And then, some health issues flared up, requiring her to reconsider anything and everything she would put in her mouth. With this, her meticulous attention to balancing their family budget took a new level of intensity.

Silver lining:
This happens with every single one of us.
Think back to the times when – you have just 30 days to go before the exam, and you have that many chapters in this many subjects to revise. When you feel you are already resourceful and are facing constraints – you learn a whole new way of looking at things. That is to say, your definition of resourcefulness goes up by a few notches! This exact thing happened with Leela, too.

Suddenly the situation was that she had to eat organic veggies and fruits as much as she could. She had to switch to non-dairy milk and curd. She had to bring in outside help for the kitchen. And she just had to stretch that budget and make it work! The health issues have a way of bringing urgency as nothing else does in life.

Teaching moment:
Leela is one of the most intelligent and sensitive people I know. I only have to hint at something, and she gets super creative and goes to town with it all by herself!

I remember sharing a leaf off of my own life and saying, “Leela, I became friends with one wealthy lady at my art class. Those were the days just after my wedding, and everything about running the house was new to me. My friend and I were window shopping, and it was the 2nd or 3rd of July as I remember it. And there were attractive sales everywhere we looked. She finally picked up a beautiful vase and had the florist next door put together the incredible bouquet using some of the best blossoms. It looked HEAVENLY. And she had quietly said to me – the best part is that it is guilt-free spending. I had gotten curious about what she meant and asked. That chat with her that followed my asking profoundly changed my life.”

Changes I made following that chat with my wealthy friend:

When the salary comes in – set it up such that savings portion is taken away even before I can lay my hand on the spending portion of the money.

When I sit for breakfast – I finish eating my day’s quota of vegetables before I put anything else in my mouth.

When we eat at restaurants– I tell them to box away half the amount in the takeaway box even before they bring my other half to eat.

When I wake up – I make the bed and fold the blankets so that I’m not tempted to back and curl up again.

So different compared to what I had seen and known:

I had only seen people do it the opposite way – at 7 pm, they’d remember how they haven’t had water all day and guzzle a whole jug. Halfway through dinner, they’d remember salad and eat some – begrudgingly. Exercising, money-saving, doing homework in time – almost always was some version of ‘oh-I-should-have.’

Aha moment:
After listening to my own story, she instantly identified what she could do differently. She chuckled – “aiyyo Giri, I am buying cream biscuits and namkeens ahead of buying rice and vegetables!”

Leela has promised to send in her new take on the family budget, and I’ll be sure to share it with you! She has done a stellar job of it.

And for you, my friend, my reminder is this: pay yourself first – whether it is time, money, love, or energy – first pay for what matters to you, don’t ever make it an afterthought.



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