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Lean mean month

For those who complain about budgetary deficit, a balanced budget in February may sound like an oxymoron. But somehow, this is the only month in which my wife manages to balance her monthly budget.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 01:12 IST

For those who complain about budgetary deficit, a balanced budget in February may sound like an oxymoron. But somehow, this is the only month in which my wife manages to balance her monthly budget.

That February has only four straight weeks helps. Household expenses are saved by three days. Neither daughter was born in February. Young parents would agree that organising birthday parties for children year after year turns out to be more expensive in the long-run than organising their wedding, which has to be done only once.

The next most expensive event — wedding anniversary — falls in March. The February budget escapes the red line narrowly. And although, to stay in step with the galloping times, I celebrate Valentine's Day, our budget has the resilience to stretch its limit to include a bunch of red roses.

No major festival falls in February. That means no purchases of colours, crackers, lighting, clothes. No spending on doing up the house. With the children's annual exams approaching, travelling out of the city, or even indulging in movies is out. For the same reason, guests, often an avoidable luxury, are a rarity. In fact, even if someone suggests a visit, he can be turned down, his proposal cancelled, without sounding awfully rude. Exam preparations make a good excuse.

Thankfully, the weather is at its moderate best in February. There's, thankfully, no need for room heaters or geysers and it's too early for coolers and ACs. There's comfort in the knowledge that the electricity bill won't be an awesome sum, and will in fact, be a the lowest, for the year.

What helps financial management the most however is the fact that except for woollens, nothing is on sale. And thankfully, there's no desire to buy next season's warm clothes this early.

Finally, we save money on cigarettes, sweets and ice-cream — simply because our annual New Year resolutions of giving up smoking and not consuming sweets lasts till February end.

But alas, without parties, festivities, vacations and guests, and the New Year resolution hanging like a millstone round one's neck, February is also the cruellest month. There's no joy in fixing the budgetary deficit. In Oscar Wilde's words, "Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."