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My Reactions To (American) Articles On Budgeting - I

To an outsider like me, the spending habits of Americans appear just a tiny bit odd (politely said). Obviously then, online articles which deal with how to budget and save to pay off debt strike me as quite hilarious. For someone brought up in a culture which values saving over spending and encourages deferred consumption instead of immediate gratification, many of the "tips" tend to elicit similar reactions: "Well duh, isn't that obvious?"

1. Bring your lunch to work
This one never fails to crack me up. Throughout going to school, college and work, I've always taken lunch from home. And it's not just me. My family, relatives, friends and practically everybody brown bags their lunch. Of course, in India we don't bring our lunch in brown bags. We use these instead: the famous tiffin dabbas!

To us, the concept of eating out everyday is completely alien. Not only is it a waste of money, it's unhealthy. It has absolutely no benefits other than being a time saver. Not everybody has the time to make and pack their lunches everyday in the morning. But few Indians would think that the solution is just to eat out. Eating out is regarded as merely a temporary alleviation, to be replaced quickly by a more permanent solution: either you learn to cook yourself or get married and hope your spouse knows how to cook!

How is this even a contest?!
2. Buy a coffee maker instead of going to Starbucks
This is a common "tip" found in many articles. Now I don't drink coffee so I cannot really judge how good the stuff that you get from Starbucks really is but I'm sure that home brewed coffee would taste just as good and might probably even be better. For people like me who drink coffee rarely, a coffee machine makes no sense but then again, I might have spent maybe $10 on coffee throughout 2013. If you're the kind of person who needs coffee every morning, why haven't you bought a coffee machine yet? Why on earth is this something that has to be said, written down and hailed as fantastic, new-age advice?

To be continued…

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