As a newly minted 20 something graduate my whole focus was on getting a job and enjoying the fruits of salaried bliss. Little was I prepared for the financial mess that was to come screaming into my life 2 years later.
It happened thus…
2010– Fresh off the boat, my good communications skills and overall pleasant personality got me a job with a call center giant.
As soon as I drew my first salary, I became fast friends with 2 spanking new credit cards (they were VERY friendly) and a two-wheeler. Working parents had relieved me of any real sense of responsibility and I merrily spent most of my greens on little things and slightly bigger things (experiences would have made me richer, but I spent on THINGS). I felt safe in the thought that my next paycheck would handle the EMIs and the card payments.
2012– Downsized to reality – I was politely called into my Floor manager’s office (I was a haughty team leader by then) and told that though I was a great asset and all, They were shutting down an entire floor. So there I stood, qualified for little else and facing the certainty of debt and depression.
Early 2013 – I had been unemployed for 3 months, my parents had decided that this was a good enough reason to get me married off. My father was terribly annoyed at having to pay my previous debt and slightly more (yes, binge shopping is thing). I was desperate. The credit card bills not withstanding, I was finding it difficult to even pay my phone bills. How did some who was earning 35,ooo a month with no other expenses to bear, have zero in her account at the end of 2 years?
I began to realize that the fault lay in the way I looked at money. Since I had had a carefree existence, I had learnt to look at money as merely a means to get stuff that the constantly seductive social media fed me with. While my parents were quite conservative in spending themselves, they had indulgently let me do whatever I wished with mine. They had not realized that the money management talk was as important as the birds and the bees one (Yes, my mother had to bite that bullet when I found my older cousin’s copy of Debonair under the mattress).
I decided to clean up my act. But I needed to land a job first, while simultaneously convincing my parents that I would make a terrible bride if I were not financially independent.
September 2013– I landed a job in client servicing with a media company. While I was thrilled to be salaried once more, I was determined not to make the same mistakes. By now I had learnt 6 big lessons:
- Being Money savvy is NOT for old people or those with current responsibilities… it’s for EVERYONE who has access to a regular income.
- Being well-informed and balanced in terms of mindset and spending-habits, goes a long way in making smart choices.
- A good investment plan goes a long way in ensuring that one always has a Plan B during an emergency. So start EARLY.
- Identify wants and needs, and INVEST in WANTS. Surprised? Don’t be, you see, while NEEDS help one survive, WANTS keeps us alive!
- Invest, invest, and invest… This is no longer a term to be used by those dabbling in stocks for a living. With so many online investment platforms, the average young adult can easily generate a surprisingly decent amount of saving with a minimum monthly investment, without compromising on enjoyment!
- Invest in YOURSELF – spending money on learning and growing as an individual is a priceless investment. In the times when one is suddenly left without a job the possibilities are endless.
December 2015– My birthday month! I had been debt free for an entire year! Yet, I had travelled to 3 different countries and sent my parents on a small getaway to Goa (yes, you can judge them, they had NEVER been to Goa) I still rode my two wheeler, but plans to upgrade to a four wheeler were in the works)
Today– not married yet (happily so), my parents were surprised when I told them of the small property I had invested in with a friend in an up an coming commercial space all by myself (Had decided to hold out on the four wheeler for another six months). At 26, there are very few individuals they know, who own a property of their own. I told them that marriage will happen in its own time, but at the moment I am having the time of my life on my own as well. All thanks to thinking and starting early with money. Some call it being wise, I call it being money-fit.
– The author is a business woman, successfuly growing her e-commerce startup in Bangalore, India.