(This column was first published on Value Research India.)
Two of the most talked about things of the past week have been the railway fare hike and the movie Humshakals. Of course, the two aren’t directly connected in any way. But someone did find a way to connect them indirectly. I’m sure you’ve come across this joke by now on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or—shudders—all three, the joke that goes something like, “Humshakals earned Rs 25 crore in the first 2 days. If Indians can pay for this, then surely no need to complain about the 14.2 per cent railway fare hike.”
Smart joke! Kudos to whoever cracked it first, but the unfortunate fact is that there’s a very small part of our population that is affected by both tragedies. On the one hand, you have the people who travel by train as well as watch movies in pricey multiplexes; and on the other hand, you have the people who don’t travel by train or watch movies in pricey multiplexes, but are just fond of complaining. On social media platforms, the latter have formed a semi-industry of sorts. It doesn’t matter what the issue is or in what context it needs to be taken in, they have to have an outraging presence in it. Up until now, they were complaining about the poor services and lack of cleanliness in our railway stations and trains. Now they’re complaining about the price hike that has been put into place to supposedly right this wrong. This is what makes the complaining industry so robust.
But that apart, it is true that the price hike will sting everyone who uses the railways regularly, myself included. But that doesn’t mean we will stop watching movies. Personally, what I’ll do, what anyone should do in case of some expenses going up unexpectedly, is rework our budgets.
You do have a budget, don’t you? Everyone should definitely have one, even if they’re not the government; it’s the easiest and most effective way of keeping a tab on your expenses. I have a budget for myself, for my family and for my son. These are the three major verticals. Traveling by train comes under the personal vertical, while movies fall under the family vertical. Hence, I’ll tweak my personal budget to fit in the railway price hike, but not cut down on the movies that my wife, my son and I watch together. Of course, my son’s vertical that takes care of his upbringing and education isn’t affected by any of these issues. That’s a priority budget.
But yes, budgeting is a simple way of tackling your expenses and making sure you don’t compromise on the necessities or the entertainment. Both have an important role to play in your living a smooth life.
Budgeting also helps you keep a check on how much of your money is being spend where. So if you’d already spent your entertainment budget before the release of Humshakals, you’d know you can’t go for that movie. That’s your budget working for you indirectly, making sure you don’t need to incur medical expenses to recover from the movie. See, budgeting works!