Oct 17, 2020

Money Talk


For the past few weeks in the Online Minimalism Workshop (OMW) that I'm attending, the topic of discussion is Money. One of the questions that I'm asking myself is "What is my relationship with money?". I'm grateful that this question was triggered, thanks to OMW.

Each individual's relationship with money is influenced by multiple factors - upbringing, childhood experiences, personal values and beliefs, the influence of family, relatives, neighbors and many more.

Even when two people, for example, siblings who have experienced similar upbringing and childhood can have different perspectives and a different approach towards money. If they are brought up in an environment where money was less, they can either feel deprived or feel more responsible. The attitude they adopt will decide their relationship with money in their 20s and 30s.

For me, my attitude with money is more on the lines of RESPECT and RESPONSIBILITY. Having grown up in a middle-class household, there were times when Appa was struggling to make ends meet. This has taught me to be more responsible and not spend on impulse purchases or unnecessary/fancy items.

In one of the sessions, I came across this statement - "Help will come when needed". It wasn't easy for me to understand this phrase but as I pondered over, two examples from my life helped me get a deeper meaning.

I worked hard during my 12th grade (wrote detailed posts on this many years back), especially on the main subjects - Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I did study well for my language papers but not as much as the main subjects. Govt of Tamilnadu had a merit scholarship offered at that point, based on the total score.


When the results came, I got a good score in all the subjects, including language papers. I got a district rank, which helped me secure the scholarship. This merit scholarship took away so much of the burden off Appa to pay for my Engineering tuition fees. And the irony is that this scholarship was announced only during that particular 5-year DMK tenure, after which it was discontinued.

The scholarship covered the tuition fees and exam/semester fees. BUT there was another major expense involved - books. Engineering textbooks were way too expensive and we couldn't afford to buy new textbooks every semester. Appa enrolled me in a book bank but they didn't have the prescribed textbooks that I needed. This problem got resolved by someone's generosity.


Shanthi akka, my senior used to stay very close to my home and our college bus pick up/drop points were the same. As I started my 2nd year, I remember chatting with her one day and requesting her to lend her books to me. Shanthi akka's response was this - "My father is buying me new books because my younger brother will start Engineering next year. So I need to retain these books for him. If I lent them to you, will you maintain them in good condition?". I promised Akka that I would keep the books safe and return them as soon as the semester exams were over. At the beginning of every semester, I would go to her apartment and pick up the books and as soon as the semester got over, I would return the books the very next day. I ensured I didn't underline or write anything on the books. I had wrapped the books in a newspaper and ensured there was no damage or smudges. As Akka saw me maintaining them in good condition, her trust in me increased and her initial hesitation vanished over some time. 

Based on my life experiences, I would rephrase the original statement this way - "Help will come to those who have a genuine need and are responsible". 

Going one step further, I also believe - "Repeated help will come to those who accept the help received from a place of gratitude than from a place of entitlement."

Another statement that I had been thinking over a lot this past week - "Money is like air. It will come and go as needed". I had a lot of doubts about this statement. One fine morning, as I was mulling over this statement and taking a brisk walk on my terrace, this explanation came to me from the universe - 


"If money is like air, then similar to those who take intentional, mindful, deep breaths inhale more air and improve their lung capacity, those who are conscious, respectful and responsible about their money will improve their earning and saving capacity."

One more statement that bothered me to the core - "Spendthrifts are fearless about the future". I just couldn't accept this statement. As I questioned why this statement made me so uncomfortable, I realized I had assumed the corollary to be true - "Frugal people are fearful about the future". I have always been a very frugal person when it comes to my resources - not just money. There have been times when Appa himself had mocked me saying I'm "kanjam" (miserly). Though it used to upset me in my 20s, I'm now glad that I have this frugal quality in me as it has helped me lead a contented lifestyle without chasing luxury.

Is the corollary true? Am I being frugal because I'm fearful about the future? Definitely not. I'm frugal because I'm responsible for the present and clear about my choices without getting influenced by society. The actions of people with frugal qualities come from a place of responsibility and not fear. 

As part of all these questioning and thinking, I also realized one fundamental principle behind questioning - "Get more clarity on your questions first. Stay with your questions for longer. Do not be tempted to ask for answers. Do not ask half-baked questions to others, as it will only lead to more confusion".

I have used the word "Responsibility / Responsible" multiple times in this post. My relationship with money is indeed from a place of responsibility.

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