My grandfather was a farmer. My father inherited his property but in Himachal, the land is not very fertile to cultivate enough crop to provide well for your family. My father took a different course. He started working with a local explosive firm. He retired as Managing In-charge. He raised two children, gave them the best of education, multiplied his property and has enough to maintain his lifestyle. He is very modern in his approach but behind the desire to send his son to America for higher studies are core Indian money habits.
My father taught us that to build a solid base we have to make the right choices. It is because of him that being in my early thirties, I am able to achieve what people dream for in their forties. The simple and easy-to-follow lessons I learned from my dad are:
Deferring Pleasure for Long-term Goals
For Indians, savings is next to religion. We try to save as much as possible. We even live below own means to save for future. But my father told me to look at it from a different perspective. He taught me the importance of sacrificing now to gain later. One lesson which inculcated the habit of saving very early in life. Like – I was told that I can’t have a new frock every other month if I wanted a bicycle on my birthday. I have to forgo instant pleasures to attain long-term goals. Even today when I plan to buy something big, the little sacrifices don’t hurt. I look at all my decisions from a long-term perspective.
Frugality is Your Strongest Ally
Money is always limited, especially if you belong to the service class. It is how we manage it that shapes our lifestyle. My father saved where and when he can. He never wasted money. Negotiated hard while buying a costly item. He placed a lot of value on doing tasks at the right time – paying bills on time to avoid penalties. These small acts resulted in a lot of savings, which, in turn, resulted in a better lifestyle than what we could actually afford.
Planning Ahead for Education and Marriage
The nature to save more and splurge less is in our Indian genes. We all witness it throughout our childhood. Marriage, education, and home are where we don’t shy away from spending. In addition to running the monthly expenses, my father saved and invested for our education and marriage. For every big commitment, he had a Fixed Deposit, Recurring Deposit or a policy. There was always a plan. Nothing was left to chance.
Credit is Strict No-No
Till date, my father thinks credit cards ruin your finances. He is right to an extent. One reason I don’t believe in having multiple credit cards. And he has pretty much the same reaction on loans and credits. He believes being in debt ruins your life. Never borrow – one of the biggest lessons we got from him. I spend only to the extent I can pay with my next paycheck. If I can’t afford an item, I simply don’t buy. I don’t buy on installments if there are interest charges on it.
Retirement Planning through Pension Plans and PPF
My father is a self-made man. In addition to providing for his family to the best of his abilities, he made enough arrangements for his retirement. He retired from the private sector with no pension. But he thought of it way ahead. He saved in PPF and pension funds which now help him to maintain his lifestyle. He left no burden on his children.
Value of Physical Labour
Fruits of labour are the sweetest. Doing things at home is one way my father saved a lot of money. He fixed his own scooter, washed his car, tended the garden and repaired small electronics. He never threw things away. He used one broken thing for another DIY project. We do the same. We never hire a technician to install or assemble things. In addition to saving money, we enjoy the process. This way we convert a task into an interesting family activity.
Money is Very Important but Not Everything
We never wasted money. And we never cribbed over a loss either. When money was enough, our father took us to the best of restaurants. But when there was a shortage, we packed food and went for a picnic. He always says, ‘If money is less, find ways to enjoy with what you have. It’s a means to an end, not your entire life.’ This lesson has given me lot of courage in times of financial stress. And it has helped me sail smoothly through those rough patches.
As children, we learn a lot by observing our fathers. The way they conduct themselves in public, manners and even the gestures. We inherit some qualities and there are a few we learn over the years. I am truly grateful that my father knowingly and unknowingly imparted so much wisdom to me. His methods, which may appear a little conservative, have always worked in my favour. On this Father’s Day, I thank my dad for all he has done for me. He is a big part of my success.
What money lessons you learned from your father? Do share your learnings in comments below.
A Company Secretary by profession, Saru found her true calling in writing. She blogs at sarusinghal.com which she religiously updates every Monday for the last six years.