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‘I’ll not be able to buy a car now’

Radhika Pancholi meets Bhupinder Rai and Shweta, a couple from Mumbai, to find out how they are battling inflation, which is expected to remain in the double-digit region for months to come.

business Updated: Jul 25, 2008 22:04 IST
Radhika Pancholi

They’re not your typical newly married couple. A year and three months down the line, Bhupinder Rai (30) and Shweta (23) juggle their timings, swapping holidays with colleagues to be able to spend some time together. “On most days, he’s sleeping when I come home and vice-versa when he gets back from his graveyard shift,” says Shweta, who like her husband, works for one of the many business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in Mumbai.

They may be earning a neat packet, but the Rais, like so many other newly married households, are hit by an inflation expected to remain in the double-digit region for months to come.

The money’s good, says Bhupinder but adds, “I’ve been contemplating a part-time job so that we can save more to pay the housing loan on which we took this two-bedroom flat. The increasing loan rates have made it even more imperative for me to do so.”

The couple that moved in to their new flat last year has been grappling with rising interest rates, which have in turn increased their home loan’s EMI (equated monthly instalment) duration from 20 years to 26 years.

The fact that the industry that they’re working in is directly linked to the economic crisis in the US doesn’t help matters. “Job opportunities are quite stagnant in the BPO sector which has been hit by the crisis in the American economy and therefore it is wiser to stay put in the job you have,” says Bhupinder.

The couple had been thinking of buying a car for quite some time. But the purchase will have to wait. “I won’t be able to buy my car for the time being,” says Shweta, adding that right now, with fuel prices at all-time highs it’s just not practical to buy one even if you have the resources. “If the loan doesn’t kill you, the fuel prices will.”

Bhupinder and Shweta make a monthly budget of their expenditure as soon as they get their salaries. “That way we know what are the absolute necessities and then we work around the balance for anything else that we may have thought about,” says Shweta.

With a combined income of Rs 70,000 per month, the Rais spend about Rs 60,000 in their overall expenses which includes the EMI for the home loan, credit card and phone bills, monthly groceries and society maintenance charges. “We are left with an average saving of Rs 10,000 per month, which is again invested in insurance, ULIPs (unit-linked insurance plans) and National Savings Certificates,” says Bhupinder.

They would definitely like to save more. “But there’s only so much that a fixed salary will do and unless prices come down, we won’t be able to save much,” says Shweta.

Bhupinder is more optimistic. “If I go by the news that keep circulating on television and in newspapers, I think the crisis should ease a little by September or October. I guess we could then think about saving more from our incomes.”

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