Post Rant

Money is not evil

A few months ago I had talked about my relationship with Money and how it has shaped my behaviour. Today I will ask you to think about why is money is not evil, and it brings access.

Money the root of all evil?

Before we proceed, pause for a second and try answering: What do you feel about money? Keep the answer to yourself before reading on.

Money is behind all the Corruption in the world

Most people would consider that all the corruption in the world is because of Money. If this money would magically disappear, the world might be a nicer place.

This is only partially true, sure unethical pursuit of money will account for most corruption and wrongdoings and yet, eliminating money will not change it. It is the battle between ‘having wealth‘ and ‘not having wealth‘ is what really will still continue in one way or another. Money is just an easy way to represent value of things / objects / services. We rely on an exchange of goods and services, and till the time some people own a resource in scarcity, they will hold power and others will covet it.

If I pursue money, I am selfish and self centered

If you are like me, you might have that thought too. For a very long time, I have had this notion that if I am going after higher income or chasing money then it is a bad trait. All because, money is evil right?

The fact is, this is not true, just because you want a better worth of your efforts and believe that your skills / business have a higher value, there is nothing wrong in chasing it. Millions of businesses fight between being cheaper to customer and others attempting giving higher but expensive quality. None of those are wrong ideas, the value of product often will represent the quality. It is not a zero sum game, that to win someone else must lose.

Your employer is renting your time to get things done, so if you think your time is worth more you must demand a better price.

The pursuit of Money will change my relationships with people

Now I really explored this from a scientific end and there is some evidence that the richer people get, the less compassionate they become. If your relationships change, they might actually need a rethink and you also need to think about your value system. However, there is a big element of what money really brings when you become rich.

Money brings access and gives you voice

The real fact is that inspite of all the democratic talk of us all having an equal say, the world does not work like that. The real strength which money brings is access and freedom. It also gives you a voice on the table where the big decisions are made.

The first step to get that access and have a voice is to earn more and grow more money. There isn’t another way.

Money is still just a store of value, and yet it gives you the power to bring change. Now, if its abused then Money is evil and if its used for good, then Money is not evil. I’d so, pursuit of money is not evil so long as you remain ethical about it.

Personal Post

Decoding my relationship with money

The reason behind sharing this personal story is to decode my relationship with money, this post also puts out into public the story of family’s struggles over the years.

As mentioned in About Me, I am from India, my parents continue to live in India. Born into a relatively wealthy family, my father opted out of their business and went on to work in a government owned technology company. He did well for the first two decades or so, managed to build himself a house and grow in the organization. My parents were always cautious in spending and these values passed on to us.

Retirement planning

Strike 1: Depletion of Investments and Faith

India had to opt for various reforms in early 90s, which opened up its markets to global investors. In 1992, the BSE Sensex grew from 2000 points in January to over 4467 points in April. This was a massive bull-run, fueled by stock price manipulation orchestrated by Harsad Mehta. On April 28, 1992, the market crashed by 12% wiping off billions of investments.

This single event resulted in losses for my father, as a result of it, he never spent a single dime towards market investments. The faith on market forces was broke, and remains to be so. He missed on the growth options available.

Strike 2: Surviving on partial pay for almost a decade changed the relationship with money

As a result of economic reforms, state owned companies started facing massive competition from new entrants, their inefficiencies/mis-management laid bare and my fathers employer ended up being a loss making firm. The direct impact of this was overdue salary payments, take-it-or-leave it early retirement options became the only choices.

Multiple years of partial pay meant we struggled managing our lives, and were extra frugal for many years. The unpaid income is lost, and has never been paid. He finally opted out with an early retirement. Switched careers in mid-50s to become a professor and lasted another decade. This helped him build a little corpus and helped his confidence.

Personal memories

The topic of money was not openly (and still is) discussed, we had no real financial education except for being frugal. I believe that there was a sense of shame for them, for they actively tried to hide their situation with their friends or family.

I still remember an argument between my parents when my father had to pay extra 300 INR (5 EURs) for an AC train ticket for me. This was because I was to accompany a cousin who could afford to travel in AC. It was one of the few times when the strain was laid bare.

The other event which I remember is when I was about to start my first job, and he wanted me to take a flight the first time. To support this, he took a personal loan and give me a little bit of money for the first month. He simply had no savings to help me out then, but he was proud of me. I am happy to add that it was the last time I asked him for money during my working life.

So, my relationship with money?

  • Save. Save. Save. Be frugal and careful on how you spend money. The result is that whenever my monthly account goes below 10% of a month’s pay, I feel stressed.
  • Do not invest. The market is rigged. It has resulted in me avoiding the market, and even when I started the invested amounts were minimal. It is only in my 30s that I understood my mistake and have tried to fix it.
  • Security over risk. I am pretty risk averse, be it investing or career. This remains to be a barrier, and I believe being FI will allow me to take those chances.
  • Don’t talk Money. We don’t speak money with each other. This has lead to a situation where they think I do not earn well enough because I am frugal!

Do you have any stories to share about how your relationship with money was shaped?