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Tackling the spending-spree

The problem isn't with getting the money but what to do with all the cash!’
-- Frank Lopez, Scarface

The dilemma of earning money, is not the method of getting paid, but the process of putting the cash into use. The where, how and why of money are quite a lot. The focus here lies solely on how to spend money wisely. We all are, at times, aware of what we need to purchase. How we go about doing that is what counts.

The problem is that most of us don't know the key rules of saving. Saving for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, for the next 5 years etc. There is a method of doing this and we hope you will find this piece useful for that very purpose.

The Golden Rule of Purchasing
'Only buy something that you would be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for ten years.' Warren Buffet

This can be considered as the golden rule for many reasons. First and foremost, its because Warren said it and whatever he says goes. If you disagree, make more money than him and prove him wrong.

Of course its not the ONLY Golden rule, but it is a pretty helpful one. Always insist on value for money. Whatever you aim on purchasing and if the price is a high, then consider what you get in return for acquiring whatever it is that you so desire. For e.g., if you buy a cell-phone now knowing that you will replace it with a newer version in 6 months, then decide against it. A newer version of everything will come about so if you cant wait then choose a more affordable model or one which will not be considered redundant in a year's time. So sort out your priorities first. A laptop is considerably more important than an X-Box, but this differs from people to people. For e.g., George may consider spending on war to be more significant than economic development whilst Obama may think vice versa. Decide what you really need and aim for that first. Then go for a leisure spree. First comes work and then comes play.

'I usually spend most of my money during the first week after I get my salary. About 30% on the very first day!' informs Jamal, a 21-year old teacher. This problem is commonplace. Almost all of us will confess that we spend the most money right after we get paid. Therefore, it is important to hold onto our salary, at least for the first week.

Once you are able to do that, then you can get down to realistic budgeting. It is not always possible to stick to the budget we make the previous month, because some events cannot be foreseen. Suddenly your cell-phone may stop function or you may find that you have run out of something that you need. So it's wise to also budget before the month, revise it after you get paid and then go for another revision in the middle of the month. That way you can easily have a more accurate and realistic expenditure budget. It is also best to consider more expenses than income. The value of expenses can be increased in order to find yourself with a lump some amount at the end of the month. This is for fun and it is not a rule.

When making the budget, the first thing to consider is what you must pay regularly. Every month. Put away some money for things such as transit costs, stationery, mobile usage charges etc. These are mandatory expense, which will occur every month and thus must be dealt with first. After that you can decide how much you can put away for whatever it is that you are saving for. Afterwards comes the miscellaneous expenses. When budgeting also consider birthdays, anniversaries etc so that you don't suddenly remember and then have to take out cash which was to be used for something else. Avoid taking loans but if that must be an option, consider interest rates, compare from where you can get the best deal. Don't commit yourself to something you are unsure of. Don't just say that you will pay back next week, look at your budget and see if it allows you to have the cash ready at the promised time.

The budget can be revised regularly, but revision doesn't mean making wide-scale changes. When you make a budget, it is something that you must stick with, otherwise it will just be regarded as a waste of time and energy.

Shops and Plans
If you do have your heart set on something then don't just go for it. Movies may teach you that, but movies also show a lot of things and everything isn't applicable to real life or your life in particular. 'I get most mad when I spend a lot for something only to find someone get the same thing for a much lower price.' Fumes 19-year old, Ashik.

Comparison shopping is the best way to shop. By doing so, not only will you be able to gain a rough estimate of the cost of your 'dream' but you can also know just how much more you can bargain. By doing this, you can get the best buy and thus the best value for your money. The most intelligent of us will always advocate this rule.

Don't go overboard with your budget. Consider the minimum earnings, not the maximum. This way you are prepared for the worst case scenario and this can be applied to the best case scenario as well. Planning wisely is this important and these certain instructions will help you to do so best.

Sometimes you may suddenly find yourself with a little extra money that you didn't expect. This can come in the form of a sudden job, a pay raise or a gift. This money should be saved completely for later or it could be spend on something immediately. Treat yourself with this money if possibly since it wont do any harm to your budgeting. Things don't always go according to plan so leave room for error. Having done that, if something exception happens, always have a plan-B handy to fall back on. Budgeting for anything is serious business. Don't be much too optimistic and confident. Look at the financial scenario around you and derive your own personal lesson from it.

In the end, we hope you find this helpful and wish you luck for whatever you are buying. Here's another tip. You can also put some away to send private contributions to this fellow who has written this in order to help him bring forth further assistance and this way we can all be happy.

By Osama Rahman

Dhaka jams from a different perspective

The other day in my English class I asked the students to tell me what was bad about living in Dhaka. At the top of the list was traffic jams. This evening, when on my way to dinner, I found myself sitting in a rickshaw in the midst of the turmoil of a jam on Satmasjid Road and I thought, 'yes, there really is a lot of traffic to complain about.' But I like it.

In the city of my birth, Sydney, things are much more orderly. There are sometimes traffic jams there too but cars wait, for the most part patiently, in long neat queues demarcated by lane lines. People obey traffic lights there.

The contrast with Satmasjid Road couldn't be greater: rickshaws squeezed like citrus fruit filling in every tiny crevice of roadway, weaving slowly amongst the battered buses and cars, turning left from the right side of the road or right from the left and sometimes trundling along in the wrong direction altogether. It's a familiar scene.

There was a street kid who must have done something mischievous because a young man had caught him by the arm and in the middle of the clutter and was busily uttering harsh words, the detail of which could not be heard over the sound of car horns. Some passengers in a tempo got out to mediate, or to find out what the kid had done for all important adda purposes, while all the rickshaw passengers and drivers around watched with interest. The young man raised his hand as if to hit the street kid, but the street kid knew it was never going to happen. The mediators from the tempo and the spectators on the other rickshaws knew it was never going to happen too. It was not a serious situation.

The little life scene concluded a few minutes later with the street kid pulling his earlobes and repeatedly squatting in that typical Sub-continental style of apology, which to western eyes looks so unusual. And then he was on his way. The young man wandered off, the not-required mediators got back into their tempo and the several rickshaw passengers switched their attention to something else as we all inched forward slightly along the road. It's the sort of life encounter that's so commonplace in this city, but for a Sydneysider there's something remarkable about it: to see a young man censure a street kid as though he was his older brother; to see strangers act a little like family members. Bangladeshis I think take it for granted.

The news from Sydney the other day included a gruesome story about a woman who'd died alone in her apartment and hadn't been discovered for a number of weeks. The news story reported her neighbours had noticed the stench of rotting flesh but had not called the police because they did not want to be involved. In Australia it happens that sometimes people lay dead for weeks or even months in their homes unnoticed, because they live alone and nobody comes to visit. It's difficult to imagine such a situation occurring here.

A few minutes later my rickshaw nearly scraped the bumper of a nearby car. The driver yelled a few words as my rickshaw driver kept silent, but it was the car which was parked askew from the curb.

Evidence of scrapes and bumps is to be seen on any car or bus in this city that has spent more than a day out of the showroom, and what has always impressed me is even when such situations get heated, the drivers of each vehicle are usually able to sort it out themselves and get on their way without too much delay. It seems assumed that a car in Dhaka will have a few dents in it. In Sydney where such scrapes are much rarer, drivers usually swap insurance details, fill in claim forms for compensation and sometimes even small incidents involve the police or a court case.

Another few metres and a good ten minutes further along, I noticed a rickshaw driver at road's edge resting with his feet up on the handlebars. Having given up the hope of moving anywhere, he was playing a bamboo flute instead. It was the very definition of playing in the traffic. Undoubtedly he was somewhere far away, entirely oblivious to the hubbub of the road drowning out his song; I imagined him in his village sitting on a setu somewhere among the rice fields, relaxing in the tranquillity of the countryside, enjoying a breeze. Every single commuter stuck there in the jam must have wanted to join him. I know I did.

It's inevitable that sometimes when stuck in a jam, when it takes three times longer to arrive somewhere than it should, we curse this city. It's an easy matter to long for a few more freeways, orderly traffic flow and convenience. And while I must confess I am saved the worst of it for I live close enough to work to walk, I think that as well as being annoyed about Dhaka's traffic jams it's worthwhile to keep aside a small smile for those intimate personal moments in other people's lives that traffic jams make us witness to, what makes a Dhaka traffic jam an organism of humanity and an expression of this city's life, while in Sydney, when jams occur, they're not much more than a row of cars.

And if you still doubt you can enjoy Dhaka's traffic then think of this: we complain of the huge number of rickshaws that add to the congestion we make ourselves, most of us, hypocrites, for we're never including the one we're sitting on.

By Andrew Eagle


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