Saturday, August 2, 2008

Interview with

Special Interview with guest, Founder of

Hi folks, this week post is going to be an interview from special guest Shreyas Nanavati (MBA, Vanderbilt), founder of, an on line budget and lifestyle advisory service, and the BudgeFree for Life System. He accepted my request in a short notice to talk about his model for you readers.

I met him a week ago and we had an interesting conversation about money, life and budget and so much more. I was so surprised to meet a person who exactly reflected my thoughts on Budgeting and money management ideas. So I wanted him to do an interview with me to share his ideas and introduce to you all about his model.

Vijai>>Shreyas, Welcome and Thanks for talking time for us.
Shreyas>>It's my pleasure vijai.

Vijai>>Let me start by asking you, What made you to come with this Balanced Life - Budget model ?!
Shreyas>>I wasn’t a budget guru until I experienced my job loss. After a few days of sleeping in, I became restless. I created a daily routine that included having someplace to be in the morning – as if I had a job – and I made sure two or three objectives were accomplished daily. The other thing I did was keep a journal of this experience: standing in the unemployment line, attending networking events, sending out resumes, working through my finances, making sure I meet my social and emotional obligations, etc.

One morning I was typing in my journal and the dots connected – without a job I choose to organize my life in a manner similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This hierarchy encompassed every facet of life and if broken down into individual expenses it shows us how the money we spend, the money we build and the life we lead impacts our overall well-being.

From this experience, I created the BudgetFree for Life system which became the foundation of my website: Budget Advice for a Balanced Life.

Vijai>>That is an interesting story.
Can you kindly, explain more about your model for my readers?
Sheryas>>Maslow's Hierarchy categorizes an individual's needs into five levels: physiological, safety, social, esteem and self actualization.

Physiological are basic needs - food, warmth, water and other necessities critical to our survival.

Safety needs represent our desire for a predictable, orderly world secure from injustice and uncertainty. Insurance – auto, home, health are examples of safety needs. So is a professional and financial security.

Social needs emphasize our desire for belonging and acceptance. They can range from participation in organizations (professional clubs, support groups, religious affiliations) to intimate personal relationships (family, friends, partners).

Esteem represents our need to be respected by our self and others; our desire for recognition, to participate in activities - professional or personal - that bring a sense of contribution and self-worth.

With this structure, the BudgetFree for Life system is able to determine how your monetary decisions fit to the hierarchy – what levels those decisions attempt to fulfill. You can read more about it on my website:

Vijai>> It like pyramid system of meeting each levels first to move on to the next level? That means, we never go above the next level if one level is not satsified. Don't you think thats stops you from moving above the ladder?
Shreyas>>That’s not correct. Life is not this black and white. It’s true, Maslow believed lower level needs had to be met before higher levels could be pursued, but I believe fulfillment should occur in unison. Another point I would like to make, the hierarchy is a foundation for a balanced life. This includes, but is not solely focused on wealth. The definition of wealth will vary on an individual basis.

Vijai>>Tell me how is it different from the usual mantra of budgeting we all hear out there?!
Shreyas>>There’s a saying: you can take off the good ingredients off of a pizza and it’s still a pizza, but nobody will want to eat it. The same is true for life – we advocate a balanced life. The hierarchy is a foundation for balance, a philosophical approach that helps you create a budget and a lifestyle to ensure each level is being enriched.

Our approach was unlike anything else I’ve read. It’s simple yet holistic. The pyramid crystallizes an approach to life in a neat and easy to remember system. You don’t have to clip coupons, crunch numbers or learn how to use a general ledger. You can it you want, but you don’t have to. Believe in the system, practice the system and you’ll find ways to reduce expenses and build security without thinking about it, without negatively impacting your lifestyle. The numbers work themselves out.

Really, I might have to try myself and check it out.
Tell me, how can one start savings even they are struggling to meet their needs?! Gimme some examples which you use this model practically in your life?
Shreyas>>You asked a simple question, but I want your readers to understand short-term answers are easy, long term meaningful change requires an understanding and transformation of behavior and habits. Working through the system helps you understanding what your expenses, savings and actions aim to fulfill.

On my website you can download a laundry list of suggestions broken down by categories within each level in the hierarchy: .

Now, let me answer your question. Sometimes we find big expenses that can easily be replaced with an alternative activity and still maintain balance. More often it’s a culmination of minor adjustments – finding bits from multiple areas where you are leaking cash. For example, building a social life around experiences – entertaining friends, outings to the park, pot lucks instead of socializing a restaurants or bars. A few other examples:

Physiological: Self auditing your energy and water consumption (see my August newsletter)

Safety: Evaluating the benefits of add on features in many utilities – cell (ringtones, text plans, internet plans), TV (premium versus basic), internet (high speed DSL versus low speed DSL), home phone (caller ID, call waiting, long distance), alarm (ADT versus NextAlarm or other online services), etc.

Safety: Modifying your driving habits (see my July newsletter on how to become a hyper miler).

Social: Developing strategies to fulfill our social needs in a more cost effective manner (visit my website: for a list of suggestions).

Esteem: Participating in altruistic pursuits (volunteering, for example) versus the accumulation of high-end material goods.
Another tip, I tell my clients to annualize their expense. For example, a morning coffee at Starbucks is only $3, but annualized it can exceed $1,000/year.

If you visit my BudgetFree for Life page, you’ll see an example at that bottom that can save $1214 from basic utilities without neglecting any of your needs.

Vijai>> That is some good tips. Do you provide any service to help people get on to this model?!
Shreyas>>Absolutely. I love helping people and I believe a balanced life should NEVER cost arm and a leg. I have a basic package, but each client receives personalized consultations for a very affordable price. You can learn more by visiting my website: or email me:

I also write a monthly newsletter. It’s free. No spam. Send me an email I will add you to my list. You can find prior newsletters in two places: and

Vijai>>Thank you Shreyas for taking time to share and shed some light about your model to our readers.
Shreyas>>Thank you for giving this opportunity to visit with you and your readers.
I hope you had a nice read of this interview and got to know more about this new BudgetFree model. Please go ahead and contact him if you need more information.

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