Monday, September 28, 2009

Reference Anxiety

Reference Anxiety” is basically the compulsion to keep up with the Joneses.

I came across this term a few years ago, in Lee Eisenberg’s book The Number. Lee mentions this as one big obstacle that keep people from attaining their “Number” – which is the estimated dollar amount in their nest egg so that they can retire comfortably.

Though I wasn’t aware of the term for it, I had experienced reference anxiety numerous times. I think most of us have.

I used to be a little proud of the fact that I drove a relatively old car to work. But that only lasted until my wife pointed out that Larry Summers, the director of Obama's National Economic Council still drives a 1995 Protege. Now there’s a man who is completely free of reference anxiety.

What struck me (and the reason I am posting this at all) is a side comment that Lee Eisenberg makes in his book. He mentions research that shows that it is not the Joneses who are raising the bar. Instead, he says, “we feel a great deal of pressure to keep up with ourselves.”

This, I find to be particularly insightful. There is no dearth of better things to acquire and enjoy. I know from first hand experience. I have many friends who are very successful in their chosen fields and not surprisingly, they live the good life. None of these friends would suggest that I go and buy or subscribe to the same things that they do. And yet it takes a lot of energy (if not courage) to consciously stay away from trying to keep up.

When it comes to reference anxiety perhaps I can fight it better if I realize that I am my own enemy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Can be hazardous, together

Being home all day means spending lots and lots of time with my wife. And sometimes, she makes statements that I couldn’t disagree with more, forcing me to speak up.

“One should never mix oily food with curd,” she said one day when we were having lunch.
“Which idiot said that?” I asked.
“My father.”

Being married can sometimes be positively hazardous.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Service Apartments – A possibility for short term rentals

We are finding that “service apartments” are actually a very good option for people like us who aren’t looking to sign a long term rental lease.

Before we actually occupied one, I hadn’t paid much attention to Service Apartments. I knew that when consultants went out to different cities for long assignments, they sometimes stayed in corporate apartments as opposed to hotels.

When we looked around for apartment rentals we found that all of them wanted us to sign a twelve month lease right away. Eventually, we stumbled upon Serviced Apartments.

These are basically fully furnished apartments where you can pay a daily or a monthly rate. “Bring just your clothes” is an oft-repeated ad phrase. Typically, it will be a 2-3 bedroom apartment with: Bed, sofa, dining table, cooking range/gas stove, Microwave oven, fridge, and a TV. The upscale ones have a lot of other extras (maid service, breakfast).

Taken on a day to day basis these apartments are quite expensive. But we’ve found that some owners would let us rent for substantially lower rates, if their property was sitting idle, especially if we agreed to move on short notice. This worked out for our needs. Also, there are always weekly or monthly discounts.

There seems to be a market for those who want to rent for weeks or for a month or two. It takes some searching on the internet and calling around. Sometimes, you can find that a friend or an acquaintance of a friend has a furnished apartment that is vacant and you can offer to rent it from them. This was the case for us in Mumbai.

Whether you want to try different cities (or neighborhoods) before settling down in one, or simply want a “home” in a different place, Service Apartments are worth considering.