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I Learnt My First Lesson About Finances Very Young And This Is What It Taught Me

Posted: February 26, 2020

Like everyone else, money plays a very important role in my life and has taught me several lessons too! Here’s what I learnt about its importance.

Money can never buy happiness – how many times have we heard this? My take on this changed with time. Sometimes I agree with it and others, I contradict. But most of the time, I question this dictum. Money plays a pivotal role in everyone’s life and I am no exception.

As a kid, money used to be luxury for us. Let’s say you could get six gol-gappas for Rs. 2 (West Bengal was always cheaper than Mumbai) And you probably had Rs. 5 so, you were considered rich. Back in 1990’s Rs. 5 would fetch you a lot of things right from your favourite food to junk jewellery.

My first lesson about money

Money was like the rarest gemstone- difficult to extract from your parent’s wallet. It was rare, it could make you rich and it could buy happiness. I remember an incident that happened around my birthday in 1996. My parents gifted me a costly dress that I wore on my birthday and felt like I was on cloud 9.

I was playing at our portico with my socks on and no shoes. After the birthday party was over, my mother noticed that the new socks I’d worn were torn since I played without shoes. She was furious. And my birthday night ended with my first monetary advice.

That day mom taught me an important lesson. Money should be respected period, regardless what it buys- modest or grand. My dress may have been costlier than my socks but they prevented me from the cold surface I played on. Whatever money buys, you must value it and respect it till it stays. When it fades, donate to those in need.

Can money buy happiness?

Growing up my generation saw the definition of money change. The Rs. 2 that bought you six golgappas now could buy only four That dress seemed costly back then, but was affordable now. A new century dawned and the value of money appreciated. But even then did money buy happiness? And if it did, how much was enough to be happy?

I remember studying engineering and I was privileged enough that my parents sponsored it without major hiccups. India was changing. People were becoming more self-conscious and the beauty industry was booming. It was still an affordable luxury for me because of my parents.

On one such occasion, I applied my newly acquired cosmetics which glamorised my face while others looked banal. The Nouveau riche within me rose and I scornfully looked at others for not elevating their beauty. That’s when one of my friends taught me another life lesson – it is a blessing to afford luxury but what seems essential for you might not be the same for others.

I learnt it could buy you a mask but not beauty!

People are born beautiful- white or black, petite or large. And it is their choice to look the way they want to. Luxury products might enhance their appearance but will never change their soul. Money thus could buy you a mask but could never hide your eccentricity.

Fast forward to 2020 now in my early 30s, I gained maturity, stability and foresight. I am at a juncture where I can buy opulence but I cannot buy time. And I run for money so that I can afford the life of my dreams but the problem with dreams is that, they are short lived.

The value for money now no more depends on the expenditure but rather on the future. I might have enough for today or maybe tomorrow but never for unforeseen situations after. The most critical thing I realised was money could now buy your life. Life, of probably a cancer patient or life, when a deadly disease strikes and you are left without anything. The value of money now depends on your savings.

Enough is rarely enough

So how much money is enough money anyway? Enough is a much overemphasised relative word because as we grow our wants grow, and the people around us grow. Hence, enough is never enough.

Money should be like the sinuous Ganga – do not hold it when it heals but save it because it may anoint when needed.

As Johnathan Swift said – “A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.”

Picture credits: Pexels

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I am a a working IT professional currently living in Brussels. I am from India

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