Elementum Money has been a boon in my life. Not only does it keep me grounded to a discipline of writing, but it has helped me understand money much better. One of the biggest game changers for me has been the understanding that money is not just a rational number-based pursuit but also has deep-seated emotional roots to it. Most of us are barely aware of this emotional part of money, barely taking the time to explore it or even understand what it means.
One of my favourite bloggers, the very sexy J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy is one of the people I look up to when it comes to exploring this emotional side. His posts are fun and yet make you look deeper into money.
So, today I decided to delve deeper into some of the emotions-based money questions. The idea is that when you start introspecting for yourself, you might be able to reveal some personal values that you associate with money as well as get a better understanding of your relationship with this entity.
To give you a direction on how you could be thinking about this, I am going to use this post to publish my answers to these questions. Here’s hoping that at least some of the questions or answers incite a Eureka moment for you and help you better in your journey to understand money and it’s role in your life.
1. First money memory
For some reason, I remember this quite clearly. My parents started giving me a small amount as pocket money by the age of seven, a source of veritable excitement in those times. In my school, kids suddenly started with the whole idea of giving greeting cards for a class mate’s birthday. I obviously had to join that bandwagon and went with my parents to buy a card from a neighboring gift shop. The price of that card was Rs. 7 whereas the only currency note I had was for Rs. 10. I still remember my confusion as to how was I going to pay the exact amount. That was my first financial transaction and the understanding of how closely arithmetic is linked to money matters. (On a side note, in the last almost 25 years, today greeting cards easily cost between Rs. 80-150. That’s inflation for you!)
2. Best money ever spent
This is something that trips quite a few people. I am someone who likes making lists and then ticking things off. One of the things that was on my list for some years before I ever dated was how I wanted to buy myself a diamond ring before a husband popped into the picture and gave me one. I started working at a full time corporate job in April 2010 for peanuts. By November 2011 though, I knew that the time had come that I could tick this thing off my list. That year, thanks to a crazy boss, I ended up not going home for Diwali. Two days before Diwali, on 24th October 2011, which was also the auspicious occasion of Dhanteras when people anyway prefer to buy jewellery, I walked into a neighborhood jewellery store. I tried a few rings and finally bought one for about Rs. 18,000, my biggest purchase till that moment. Till today almost 8 years later, I have always worn that ring alone on one of my ten fingers, considering I am a fiddler and it’s become a habit to keep switching it.
The biggest reason it’s my money best spent is the fact that this ring forever feels like a reminder of financial independence, not the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) types. But, every time I look at this ring I am reminded of the feeling that I am and will never be dependent on anyone for my financial needs.
3. How was money treated in your childhood?
I have grown up in a quintessential Indian middle-class single-income family. While money is supposed to be one of the biggest reasons for conflict in marriage, I rarely witnessed money worries or conflicts during my childhood. However, one of the lessons I definitely learned was that money has an opportunity cost and I had to rationalize or really need any expensive thing before I could buy them. Random, frivolous spending was generally not something we did as a family. Till today, laziness and the unwillingness to spend unnecessarily is what keeps my apparel and shoe range minimal.
4. Best piece of money advice
Money is something you work so hard for. If you don’t learn to care for it or know everything there is to know about it, you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you. While in not so many words, I believe this is advice that I have learned sifting through the consistent financial nagging from my father.
5. Is money good or evil?
For years, I have harbored the belief that money is not particularly necessary and in some ways evil too. However, today I really believe that money is only a strengthener. It just intensifies the existing personality traits of a person. So, if someone is kind-hearted and a genuinely nice person, money will be a good tool. On the other hand, if there is a mean-spirited person, money can only be evil in such hands.
6. Any financial (money) regrets?
I finally started investing in equity markets about 5 years after I started working. I also started investing through SIP only last year as for the last few years there have been a few liquidity challenges. If I could start over, I would start a miniscule SIP the day I got my first salary.
7. What does money mean to you?
For me, money is a tool to make life comfortable. Money is something that can enable me to never being forced to say no when I don’t want to. So while I would never want to spend a crazy amount for a handbag, I would still want to have enough money to be able to rebook a flight for a planned holiday if an airline ends up canceling on me.
8. Any splurge that makes you thankful for money?
My favorite splurge that money can buy has to be on holidays. Travel can open a whole new world to you and that is one luxury that makes me thankful for the money.
9. What scares you about money?
I have come to realize that there is a certain amount of money that I need, to be comfortable and to feel secure in life. Granted, it’s not as high as it is for a lot of people but all the same, it’s my threshold amount. While I don’t obsess about money as of now, my biggest fear is of someday not having enough money, so much so that thoughts about money begin to dominate my head.
10. If money was not a factor, what would be an ideal life for you?
For me, an ideal life would consist of learning as much as I possibly can and creating things or content of value. Learning and creating are the two ends of the equation which give me fulfillment and satisfaction.
Try answering these questions for yourself. A lot of your feelings towards money will start getting clearer and you will probably better understand your relationship with it.
Feel free to publish your answers to this quiz in the comments below.