or 7 ways to cut corners and trim costs during your marriage

As with any kind of investment, marriages have also taken a hit during the recent financial crisis. Couples are likely to postpone their wedding plans more than ever. Big fat weddings are gradually turning into tiny anorexic affairs. Although I’ve also read conflicting reports about marriages actually being on the rise in some places. Maybe that joke doing the rounds that “the situation is so bad that women are actually marrying for love nowadays” has some truth in it. Whatever be the case, for people willing to walk the plank tie the knot I’ve devised a few tips for saving money during and after the marriage. And yeah, these tips are more suitable for an Indian style wedding.

With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez for plagiarizing the title, here is the collection of best practices. I do not claim a copyright on these techniques, but just in case you plan to implement any of them, do invite me to your marriage. I promise I won’t hog.

Tips for a recessionary marriage

  1. Invite all your guests using email. It will save a lot on effort and resources while designing, printing and distributing wedding cards. And if you have a friend like me who can use Photoshop, you can probably pay him, or give him a invite him to the wedding as well. This “email shaadi card” trend is already gaining popularity with the IT crowd, what with every one sending one with the post script, “consider this mail as a personal invitation.” What do you want me to do? Print it out and show it at the entrance when I come to your wedding?
  2. If the pundit has agreed to agreed to a unit rate contract, then you can make do with 3-4 pheras. Of course, value for money is paramount in a recession so if you can convince the pundit to go for a fixed price contract, it will work out in your favour. Be sure to extract maximum value by running around the holy fire a couple of times more to strengthen the bond with your better half all the better.
  3. If if doesn’t hurt your ego too much, get rid of the white horse for your baaraat. Hire a mule, get it painted white and jump on it. The mule will be able to handle your weight for a longer duration and you can probably make it go round the wedding hall a couple of times before entering.
  4. Serve limited meals during the reception. Consider a choice between a couple of rotis, or a handful of rice. Prominently display Gandhiji’s famous saying – “Eat to live, do not live to eat” near the food counters. People wanting to eat more can buy an unlimited meal coupon by paying Rs 50 at the gift counter.
  5. Skip the sweets. Lifestyle based diseases are on the rise in the middle and upper class Indian households, according to a recent report by KPMG. Why should you add to the guests’ medical bill by spoiling their sweet tooth?
  6. Go for a combo engagement-wedding. Saves time on rent for the wedding hall and people, food, transportation etc. Even your guests will be impressed by this innovative double-bill feature.
  7. The Indian tourism industry is in tatters. Cancel your flight tickets to that exotic travel destination and book a ticket to that lonely ignored hill station within the country. Must I remind you to go for the Sleeper compartment in the train?

December is the month of marriages in India. Although it is still some time way, if the economy doesn’t stabilize, one may really need to cut back on spending. Like these, they can be many more ways to cut corners and save some more bucks. Maybe you the reader can contribute more of such tips and help a few adventurous couples take the next logical(?) step in their life together. So until the next recessionary cycle, here’s wishing all such souls a happily married life.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book, “Fooled by randomness” writes, “It is said that science evolves from funeral to funeral. After the LTCM collapse, a new financial economist will emerge, who will integrate such knowledge into his science. He will be resisted by the older ones, but, again, they will be much closer to their funeral date than he.

One and only one funeral comes to mind now – the sub-prime crisis, the latest funeral in a long list of never-ending deaths.

P.S. On a related note, MBAs did not cause the sub-prime crisis. We are just not that intelligent.

It is often repeated in global business circles that when the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. But have you ever wondered what happens when the US catches a cold? Judging from recent events, this is what precisely has happened. With the burst of the housing bubble, US has dragged down many other economies of the world. Even the BRIC juggernaut has slowed down.

When did the turn of events happen? When did sub-prime, which was a catch word in B-schools and a hot topic of discussion, suddenly turn into a monster? We have come a long way since last year. A lot of money has since flowed under the bridge. Last September, the sub-prime crisis had just reared its ugly head but no one could have predicted the level to which it has affected every one of us today. Governments are hastily organizing bailout packages for mopping up bad debts. Age old institutions are going off the radar. Investment Banking as a concept has been wiped out.

As far as India is concerned, the decoupling theory was badly routed. India has not been immune to the global hiccup. Inflation reached alarming levels, the pathetic levels of IIP has demoralized the industry and the stock market have seemed to lost all steam. The irrational exuberance which led the Indian stock markets to record highs till January has been squashed. The exuberance has gone; now only the irrationality remains. Newspapers scream valutions at 2005 levels, but who has the courage or the cash to buy today? Judging from the industry scenario, it seems India is heading for a recession with no brakes. And I’m on that train.

P.S. The above is not a rant, nor a crib. Just a dispassionate look on things which have happened and which are in store.

An article I was reading on ZD-Net had this to say about the effect of the global financial crisis on Indian IT firms.

In fact, Premji, one of India’s richest men by virtue of his share in Wipro, apparently practices frugality to the extent that he orders ‘by-two’ samosas in the office cafĂ©. ‘By-two’ is a famous local habit, quickly adopted by newcomers, of splitting one order of anything (coffee to soup) between two people to save on costs.

Many of the now bankrupt firms had accounts with the IT giants for developing their IT systems. And since they are no more, the fallout is going to affect the IT industry as well. And here we are being complacent, having McDees and Coke Floats and Subways. Are we being smug about the whole situation? Are we choosing to hide behind a imaginary veil of hope? Has the time to start worrying come yet? Time itself will tell.