I see a strange phenomenon amongst the upper middle class community. Despite a very high level of income, they still feel that they do not earn enough. They possess many luxuries and they even own a house to keep all those items in. No matter how small, most people own a car. There’s money in the bank and also two satisfactory incomes to increase those bank balances every month. Despite this steady source of double income, there is a constant fear of being short on cash for their current lifestyles.
People who earn extremely well are also seen to be labouring under great stress. They are deeply upset if they ever have to take “leave without pay” for festivals or family gatherings or even for their own kids’ or parents’ illnesses. They literally mourn that monetary loss. Couples are most unwilling for one parent to give up a steady job in order to be a stay-at- home mom or dad to raise their kids right, even if there is no other family support or source of adequate child care at home. The constant fear is: “ I’ll lose my job, my promotion, and there’ll be less money coming in.” They constantly voice this fear and continue to compromise on investing quality time for their own children.
But really, how much money do we need to be happy? Recently, a father wanted to send his son to participate in an international competition and accordingly wrote out a budget of Rs 5 lakh. He had made an itemized list of expenses. But before long, he began commenting to all about the rising costs of living that required him to work even harder to earn extra cash.
Later, I worked out the costs of the same trip and showed them how it all could be well-planned and executed for Rs 1 lakh only. The airline and hotel that I chose for them were comfortable- just not the most expensive or the most high end!
Children of poor parents also get an education and some of these children do very well for themselves too. On the other hand, children studying in the most expensive schools do not always do well in life. What kind of life we wish to have and give to our children is totally up to us. Is it more important to live comfortable & happy or to feel miserable paying installments for a big bungalow, a big school, or a big car? Of course, if we are very happy while shelling out those EMI’s then it’s justified.
My question is to those people who have over-stretched themselves, Over- extended their wants & Invested in an imaginary future by entangling themselves in paying monthly EMI’s for things that they feel would make them very happy in the future. In the process, they are making their present so very unhappy. They are investing for a future imaginary happiness but forgetting in the meanwhile, to live happily in the present, because they are busy paying for that imaginary happy future.
Does poverty only mean financial poverty? This question troubles me constantly. What is my personal measure for happiness? -To take my kids out for a movie, and spend quality time with them. Buying a book and then reading it in peace. This is how I look at it- If I am able to carry out my responsibilities towards my family and then save some money for my own pursuits and more importantly, do those things that I like without having to think twice while spending for them, then I think I can say that I’m pretty rich. I firmly believe that I am as rich as I tell myself I am. If I feel I am rich, then I am! This wealth has nothing to do with money or assets. Because happiness and satisfaction are purely personal beliefs. Or rather, they should be.
So what about you?
Are you rich or poor?
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