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Blogging for eight and a half years now, fashion and beauty influencer Aanam Chashmawala has a legion of followers who hang on to her every word of advice. Building a brand on social media paid off when the 29-year-old bought a home in Mumbai when she was just 26. Lifestyle Asia India caught up with her to get tips on how to save and begin one’s investment journey.

Aanam Chashmawala

Tell us about the journey to buying your home

For about the first five years of my blogging career, I lived with my family and was able to save up. After that, I stayed in a rented apartment for a year, after which, I bought this home. Nonetheless, what helped me save for the down payment was budgeting and saving. I carefully wrote down my expenses every day. It is an extremely underrated practice, and it helped me identify what I needed. Anyone who is looking to invest in a home or an office space will have to gather up finances for down payment. This can only be possible if one is in the habit of saving.

Does the budgeting help you in your work too?

As content creators, we tend to spend a lot of money on our wardrobe and beauty supplies. Since I am constantly reviewing beauty items, I have to buy them, if I do not receive them via brands. Producing content also requires a slew of gadgets, including laptops. I have four different kinds of cameras at this point. Writing down expenses and then reviewing every week or month is something I recommend. That helps one get a tangible, statistical view rather than a vague understanding of where the money is going. Some of my friends who have adopted this habit realised how much money they were spending on just eating out.

You seem to like budgeting — do you also invest?

I do not claim to be a financial expert but putting away money in a bank is not enough. I believe basic research on mutual funds and its types is essential, especially what a SIP and ELSS are. While I did my research, I also augmented my investing habit through a portfolio manager. I find it is always helpful to put aside a certain amount for investment, when you are analysing your monthly income, expenditure, and savings. Some of my salaried friends have a recurring deposit going out each month into a separate account, which sets them up for a regular investing cycle.

Does this quality of how to save and invest, run in the family?

I believe I have inherited and learnt them from my father, who got it from his father. Both self-made men, my father has been an absolute hero when it comes to teaching me finances. I studied commerce in college and know how to maintain a ledger. But the fact that I pay the GST and TDS on a monthly basis on my own, or that I am so up to date with what my accountant is doing, or I know when to pay my advance taxes, is a reflection of his ways. To this day, if I am confused about something he will be my first call, before I call my accountant.

You seem to have a fondness for financial management…

I love numbers. If I wasn’t a blogger I would have definitely taken up finance. Although my accountants help me with my business and personal accounts, I do a Level 1 calculation myself. That is then fine tuned and a GST challan is generated. I then go to the government websites and make the payment and also my advance taxes.

Has the pandemic been tough on bloggers and how have you handled it?

There has definitely been a lull in the blogging sector, which affects finances. Enquiries have dropped down substantially in terms of volumes and conversions. Nonetheless, we have not let anyone go and do not plan to.

However, we have had to make other adjustments including pay cuts, due to a couple of months of absolutely no business at all, the first time ever since I started doing this. While some (almost ready) campaigns have been pushed back owing to sensitivity, there are others that we have said no to because of these troubled times. Content needs to be adjusted to the present and cannot be just about information or entertainment.

I do not have a fallback option since my husband and I have been working together since October 2019, when he opted out of his advertisement career and joined me. We are budgeting with what we have at hand and some opportunities that we have gotten. We also have to make sure we are managing our finances smarter than before.

Anam Naqvi

Anam is an astute writer who aims to demystify personal finance and wealth management for the common man. She has written on geopolitics, economics and politics for the Economist Intelligence Unit before moving to personal finance content strategy. Her penchant for storytelling and conversation has resulted in a podcast about human stories called “Sapien Story”.