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Meet a Reader | Sonal, from India

I was delighted when Sonal emailed, offering to answer the reader interview questions. I just think it’s so fun to know that the community here is made up of people around the globe!

The internet is a grand thing.

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Here’s Sonal:

1. Tell us a little about yourself

I am Sonal and I am from Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), India.

It’s the heart of India and exactly in the centre of India.

And I completed my education (Bachelor of Engineering) from Bhopal itself.

For my job, I shifted to Mumbai and worked in an IT company and I am currently staying here in a joint family setup with my 4 yr old daughter.

A little Indian girl looking at her arms.

2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?

I think from 2009/2010. One of my company’s clients was US-based and I was searching for some frugal tips on that network (VPN) and found The Frugal Girl.

So now I feel that I have been associated with Kristen virtually for the last 11-12 years.

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

When I started my job, I was staying in sharing basis but there was no saving.

(Double Sharing basis means 2 persons will stay in the same room. So it’s like in 2 BHK (2 bedroom + 1 hall + 1 kitchen + 2 washrooms) , 4 persons will stay, 2 in each bedroom. It’s very common in metro cities in India due to very high rents. Also our apartments are furnished.)

Whenever I had to shift house or due to job change (here we won’t get the last one month salary if we are on notice period) and joining a new company (again month gap), there was no salary and I had to ask my parents to give me money for 2 months as expenses (rent, food, travelling) were there and I needed money for all those things.

So I thought, “It’s time to save money. I can’t keep asking my family for money whenever there is no salary for 45/60 days.”

I started reading a lot about personal finance and followed lots of blogs (personal finance).

4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?

FIRE.

(Here’s a definition of FIRE)

I am saving and investing so that I can be financially independent and can leave my job and do what I like a lot.

5. What’s your best frugal win?

Having a family who shares similar thoughts.

Doing lots of DIY during the pandemic.

6. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?

Giving money to a family member and thinking the family member will return it is the dumbest mistake of my life.

I don’t know when I will get my money back and that amount is quite big. If I ever do get it back, it will help me as a downpayment for my future house.

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

I buy lots of cosmetics but never use them as my skin is extremely sensitive and most of those products don’t suit me.

I still buy lots of subscription boxes and half of those items just go in the trash once expired.

Sonia's daughter in a green dress.

8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?

Costly and fancy handbags.

As I stay in Mumbai and my office is a walking distance (1 mile) from my home, I generally go by foot.

And in the evening, I buy lots of veggies and fruits from the local market before heading home and for that, backpacks are best.

An Indian street market.

A market similar to mine, from this Facebook page

And I have only one handbag which I use when I wear any traditional dress.

9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?

I would save it, and will splurge on the interiors of my future house.

Sonia's home in India.

my home decorated for my brother’s wedding

10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers

A few are:

  • Don’t waste food
  • Always pay bills on time
  • Always do grocery shopping with a list.
  • Meal prep (I learnt a lot about that in Pandemic)
  • Follow 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

11. What are some things that are different about frugal living in India vs. other countries?

I think it’s mostly the same, but I think since labor is cheap in India, we don’t use machines a lot,; we mostly hire someone and get it done by them.

Like, Cleaning, Dusting, Dishwashing, and Clothes washing.

We do use washing machines for heavy clothes but still, the dishwasher is not much in use.

The concept of cooking large meals and storing it in the freezer and reuse it later is not here.

We store corn, peas in the freezer for year-long usage and prepare tomato ketchup in bulk when tomatoes are a few cents per kg.

We still cook all 3 meals fresh and from scratch daily.

You have stores like Costco, Aldi. We have Dmart, Big Bazaar, Metro, etc. but fresh and local vegetables/fruits are best from those small vendors and I still prefer to buy from them, as we help them to earn money and run their business.

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Sonal, I loved reading about your life in India, and I really love the pictures of your daughter. She’s so cute! Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Readers, the floor is yours; share your questions and comments with Sonal!

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priskill

Thursday 5th of August 2021

Really enjoyed reading this and hearing about the similarities and differences in frugality as practiced in different places. It does sound like a lot of the same ideas apply. And your daughter is adorable!!

Liv

Thursday 5th of August 2021

Wow ,I'm very late on this post as I was very busy from last few days and could not read many posts but it warmed my heart to see a fellow indian although I don't live in india anymore. I found Kristen's blog while searching for some recipe in 2014 I think and love it. Being indian we have always been frugal but it was so exciting to see her doing similar things to save money like using odd ends of bread ,which I saw many people threw ,using envelopes again and many more. I absolutely love your blog Kirsten. Not only for frugal tips but also it kind of taught me how to be more thankful for all God has given to me .

Kristen

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview!

Katy in Africa

Tuesday 27th of July 2021

Loved reading this! The picture of the market makes me wanna go there!

karen

Monday 26th of July 2021

I love this series and Sonal your contribution was so interesting.

I loved the picture of your daughter in the green dress. The look on her face was priceless.

And the market picture was so colorful. I would love to walk through your market with you and you could help me pick out things, especially the spices.

My daughter and son in law traveled to India before the pandemic. And we loved seeing their pictures when they returned. One of her favorite things was she took a cooking class and loved what they made.

Thanks again for sharing.

N

Monday 26th of July 2021

Hello Sonal,

That picture of your daughter being careful of her fresh henna is so perfect!

I envy your market, especially everything unexpected that you described there when replying to Kristen @ going country. I'd love to hear more about your frugal tips in a future article, especially when it comes to reducing, reusing, and recycling. I find it fascinating that what qualifies for the the three R's can vary wildly from culture to culture, and even from person to person--we've all so much to learn from one another! I look forward to hopefully hearing more from you.

Thank you for doing this series, Kristen! Even when I don't have time to comment, I always enjoy reading about other frugal folks and their journeys.

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