I was not born in to a poor family, but yet I know what it feels like to be poor, and rich. Well it depends upon on what time of the month you’re talking of.
I was never brought up in poverty, it’s just that things were either worth spending on, or not. So if something was needed it was bought, otherwise it was not thought of. The family consists of only mom and me, and back then she was the only earning in the family. Some time before college started she resigned from her job. It was a combination of the commute, work issues and her ailing health that lead to the decision. Besides, she had put in enough money in savings to put me through college. So it seemed like a sensible decision. Now that we look back, it still is. Even in college there was this certificate course I took up for learning Pro/E (which now that I think didn’t teach me any more than what a friend who knows how to use it), but I remember talking to mum about it and saying that it would add ‘weight’ to my resume (Sigh, pity) and the next day she asked me how much it was worth and gave that much to me and told me to pay the fees with it if I was interested in doing it. Similarly when it became necessary for me to purchase a laptop, she bought me one. Although I do remember, for the lack of a better word, nagging her for a new phone shortly after college started. I ended up purchasing a Nokia N72, a good phone, but a bad way of acquiring it.
So after I got my interview cleared and before job started, I thought that when salary starts coming in I should divide it in five parts. One part would be my own allowance and I spend it how I want without answering anyone. Second part would be an allowance for mom and likewise no questions asked on what she does with it. Third part would be for the expenses of the house and fourth would be saved up for something like a future education or a car or a house, whatever would catch my fancy. The fifth would go towards an emergency fund for those unforeseen times. If you look at it, the so called planning makes sense. It started out well, before as the use of past tense suggests, it went to nothingness. I have touched on this before, but soon I developed more expensive tastes and lesser inhibition. So my love for coffee would find me making daily visits to Barista for multiple cups of coffee (oh and they make some great coffee), cheese burst pizzas, gym to burn off the pizza and so on. Soon it developed in to a habit, and month ends would be accompanied by a decreasing availability of funds.
Sometime last year I got in the inevitable discussion of finances, and seeing my state of things and some of the poor decisions I had taken she asked questions that I could not properly answer as to where all that money really went. It was of course a not so neat discussion (forgive my use of the euphemism). Of course some time afterwards, better sense prevailed and I religiously siphon off money every month for saving. Sometimes it is not as much as I would like it, not as much as mom would want it, but then again I am now ‘richer’ than I was a year ago.
My so called improved habits are however a result of deliberate and conscious decisions. Some of them every day. Do I still want to go and have loads of coffee, pick up every book, movie and game that has my fancy? At the back of my mind I do, and it is a decision with the thought that “No, that money must be saved for something else. Something larger”