Let me tell you of a personal incident, which will make you believe how mental well-being is intricately linked to financial wellness.
One year ago
Exactly one year ago, I was kinda kicked out of my PG because I couldn’t pay the rent. That time, I was working as an intern in my present company. The pay was three times less than what I am earning right now. And my rent took away literally 83% of my stipend. The rest was spent on buying milk daily for my daily healthy breakfast. And more…
I also did not have utensils or dish washing soap or ANYTHING of the daily utilities required. I didn’t have a bucket of my own where I could wash my clothes or bath with.
The girls I lived with always nitpicked on the things I didn’t have, on the things they share with me, and on the things I should have for a proper living away from home.
I did not have fancy clothes for parties or any such outing. For all I was concerned was just that I had to go to office, work and learn as I work and soak as much as I could from my boss, as he taught me about digital marketing and content writing.
Besides, my good friend Andy owned me a lump-sum amount of what I earn monthly today. He still hasn’t payed me back, and I have given up on that amount anyways. Not because I don’t trust him to pay me back, but as gratitude because he helped me A LOT and was always there for me when nobody else was.
Anyways. Back to the topic.
How did I pay my bills?
My mother paid for the rent for three months. I didn’t like asking her for the rent because I always wanted to be independent and this doesn’t count as one. She also parceled me my medicines, and paid for the daily tiffin facility I took. Tiffin meaning an outdoor entity feeding me lunch and dinner.
The food wasn’t good, and my stomach being as sensitive and picky as its owner often revolted against the food in the typical way stomach revolt.
In the third month, I had a huge fight with my PG owner and I had to leave the premises.
Enter – Stress eating behavior
I remember calling my mom out of desperation and telling her about my drought-stricken financial condition. I asked her to call Andy up and sorta plead with him.
I was on the road to quit smoking – and I hadn’t smoked for I guess 4 days in a row, but I was stressed and hungry and cranky and so desperate for any kind of help that I just smoked and ate out. I had sandwiches and Oreo milkshake and I used her card to withdraw money from the ATM.
My mentality was,” I know I’m broke and asked mummy for help. I have already failed in being independent, might as well spend more on pizzas.”
This emotional eating and overspending (you can say I was technically in debt already) filled my stomach and I went back to PG straight and slept.
The next day I didn’t go to office.
I roamed around the city, visiting new places available for rent, and calculated the monthly expenses on rent and transportation, if I lived far from my workplace.
Now, the thing about me is that once I start hunting for ANYTHING (be it apartments, jobs or even researching about business competitors etc.), I turn into a paranoid planner who makes multiple backup plans so that I never feel insecure or homeless again… Which comes into advantage at times because I love planning.
What went wrong?
My mistake was to immediately agree for the first place I saw, feeling that I’ll never find another place like this again. The high rent PG was located in a posh area, had marble staircases and delicately carved wooden furniture and railings. The room I shared with was a terrace room, with a terrace garden and huge terrace (obviously). I am a sucker for terraces and gardens.
But I couldn’t afford it.
This experience was the turning point in my financial wellness path.
The turning point…
I found a 4BHK apartment which was shared with 7 other girls which had all the things necessary – fridge, utensils, gas stove, water filter and buckets too. We had an air cooler during the hot summer seasons.
The sweetest part? I could afford it AND it was located at a stone’s throw from my office.
As soon as I got the job after the internship, I sat down with Zara (my diary’s name is Zara) and a pencil and worked out my finances. I decided that 46% of my salary would go towards rent, bills and a new tiffin facility (or food, eating out and cooking in). 13% of my salary would go towards my medicines (I have a lot of ‘em). 20% of my salary would go towards savings. If any emergency arises, I take some amount from my savings, and diligently make up for it tin the next paycheck. 13% would be for my “wants” and the rest would be for my fruits and milk – essential to keep my mental well-being, well, well.
I stockpiled on the things I need daily or monthly. Like cereals, sugar, dry fruits, rice, pulses and sanitary napkins.
What lies ahead
I am stoked to say that it has been going well for me now.
True, sometimes I still eat emotionally and my eating behavior becomes purely nutsy cuckoo. But I always make up for the lost money in the next paycheck. I got a 36-inch square tattoo on my back with my money, bought headphones and yes, a bucket.
I’ll admit, the building which I live in right now doesn’t look very appealing from the outside, but the flat is well maintained and that’s all that’s needed for a girl living far from home and working her first job.
As for terraces and gardens, I have decided to buy a house, put two rooms on rent and live for almost free. And I’m very well gonna have a garden. Of course, there’s gonna be a garden. What do you expect?