The Cost Of Living

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The Cost Of Living
Nidhi Sinha, Editor, Outlook Money
Nidhi Sinha - 29 October 2022

It is said that everything has a cost. British novelist Deborah Levy talks about the cost of being a wife and a mother in her memoir, The Cost of Living, which was published after she moved out of a years-long marriage. Arundhati Roy, in her namesake book, The Cost of Living, talks about the national costs of raising dams and becoming a nuclear power that some have to bear at the expense of others.

You can’t possibly find your way around some costs—either because of circumstances beyond your control, or simply because you can’t do without them.

Among the latter are what we call non-discretionary expenses in household budgets. These expenses usually comprise the actual cost of living. But how much does it really cost to live? The answer to this simple question may not be so simple.

There are tangibles, of course, but the intangibles may hold equal sway. For instance, the numbers we ran show that renting a house you are living in may make more sense than buying it in the long term, keeping in mind certain constants, such as interest rates and growth potential of your investments. But then there are intangibles that may weigh heavily against those numbers—owning a house may provide a sense of security to a middle-class individual or simply a sense of satisfaction or the opportunity to enjoy a lifestyle that you think completes you. Attaching a cost to such aspects can never be easy. We’ve tried to disentangle some of these issues to simplify that decision for you—whether to buy or rent a house.

Then there are costs that you choose to pay and the ones you can’t ever repay. Most of us choose to bear the costs of urban living—higher stress, failing health, cramped spaces, alienated lives, and so on. We embrace these costs, because they have a certain use value. But let’s not forget about the costs we can’t repay—the emotional and even monetary support that friends and family end up bestowing upon us in critical times.

If you are done dealing with such complex human emotions, turn the pages to find out how the index can be your best friend in volatile times. The numbers come into picture again, but they are quite heartening in this case. If you want to go to foreign shores to shore up your equity diversification, we tell you how to go about it. There’s also good news as there are indications of a rate hike that we would like—the returns from the much-loved small savings schemes.

These insights will help you in your investment journey. If you think you figured out the nuances a bit late in your life, ensure your children start early. Take our quiz to find out if you and your child are on the right track. They will end up thanking you when they land their first jobs, start earning, and realise they have a foundation on which to build upon.

At that stage, among the first things they may encounter is laying their hands on the perfect salary break-up. Though there’s no such thing as that, mis-steps can cost dear. And that’s a cost that certainly no one likes to pay.


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