There is a bright side of earning well and investing wisely. Availability of money, in the present and future allows us to do what we need to today and also provide for the future in a good manner, to sustain the lifestyle that we need to have. Awareness about personal finance and investment through financial blogs, Facebook groups and other medium have helped create a culture of being aware of money issues, which is largely good.
There are however, some dark sides to it as well. Over the past couple of months I have personally experienced some situations and have read about several more which has made me wonder whether we are getting way too obsessed with money, Let me share with you some of these, so that we are on the same page on what I am trying to convey here.
- Read a discussion of a Facebook group last week where a person has posted about how he avoided tipping a delivery person. Others added to the discussion justifying it by saying how much money would the delivery boy earn monthly etc.
- A friend of mine was earlier contributing to a charity regularly has recently stopped. Since he can easily afford it, I asked him why. The reason he gave was how much the money will grow in 15 years and what all he could do with it !!
- At a recent gathering the conversation turned to domestic helps and their salaries. It was interesting to note that most people felt quite upset that these people demand an increase of salary of 10% or so every year. Remember, these are the same people who will crib majorly with their annual increments or with the seventh pay commission recommendations, despite both normally be over 10%.
- A neighbor whose son plays very good cricket, was reluctant to send him for a tournament in Bhopal as it was costing 20,000 Rs. Some of us got together and finally convinced him. His plan was to invest this money in buying stocks !!
- Another friend was postponing the replacement of his car, despite the earlier one being on it’s last legs. When I had a discussion with him, he told me that he had learnt from some seminar to utilize assets to the maximum. After my strong urge, with some help from his wife, that the present car was a liability rather than an asset, he changed his car last month.
I could go on with more examples but you would have got the point. Over the years, I have felt quite strongly that the value of money is only in what you can accomplish through it. Yes, we do need to invest for our goals including retirement but it makes no sense to me, not to utilize the money in a productive manner today also. Some of the things which I would advocate my readers to try out are as follows:-
- Get associated with a couple of charities and give to them as much as possible for you. There are many who are not as fortunate as us because they do not have the opportunity. Any help extended to them will help them in making these people self-sufficient and contribute positively to society. I contribute to CRY and Helpage and have continued to do so even after giving up my regular corporate career.
- Focus on things which give you true happiness and spend on it. Be it travel, reading, seeing live musical performances, pursuing a hobby etc, you need to do it today. Not save money today and try to do it after 20 years when you will not enjoy it.
- The same is true for your family. Put your child in a good school rather than worrying about how much she will need for college. While both are important, compromising on school education because it can be expensive is likely to be quite harmful to her.
- Be generous with tips and salaries to domestic help, drivers etc. These are the people most affected by inflation and any extra earning will help them. It is almost inhuman to grudge them this when it means so much to them and is so affordable to you.
Money is important, but we need to use it in the right way both in spending and in investments. Being obsessed about it by constantly thinking how much will the amount grow to if we do not spend it today is completely senseless.
After all, if you do not need to spend, then why do you really need the money?