The story of every middle-class Indian kid growing up is pretty much the same. Those monthly shopping and movie trips with the entire family in tow where your parents picked out the baggiest jeans for your ‘outings’, those Bata shoes before the new academic year began, those “tu kitni badi ho gayi hai, kal hi tho kareedha tha” everytime mom realises you’ve outgrown your school uniform. And amidst all that there is dad. Unflinching. The one man who knows how to magically manage finances despite sudden random expenses.
One thing common to most dads is their financial wisdom. They just seem to know it all. They know exactly how to live with one shaving razor for an entire year while saving enough to go on a holiday to the neighbouring town and still making it seem like the holiday of the century! How to make one person’s income feed and sustain a family of six or seven and still manage to donate to charity! Our dads too were probably carefree and wild once but grew to be responsible when they started a family. Or probably they had a fair share of hardships that taught them important lessons the hard way. Haven’t we all watched our dads do the family accounts, budgeting and spending hours poring over sheets of numbers that made absolutely no sense to us kids? But through all that, we pick up certain pearls of financial wisdom like the ones here.
Regularly check all your important documents
Remember those days when our dads took out their all-important black briefcase from a well-hidden spot in the wardrobe? We instantly knew better than to disturb him for the next four hours. As our dads went through each document once every few months, making notes and making photocopies of the documents they longer needed before burning them which is the Indian equivalent of putting documents through a shredder, we would sit there yawning.
When we grew older and wiser (or maybe not) enough to understand the importance of finances, the one thing we learnt watching them painstakingly keep everything in order was to always keep a regular check on all your documents. Make sure every document is in place, lest you find yourself in an emergency. It’s important to keep a check of when all your investments are maturing or expiring, check your CIBIL reports once a year to make sure your credit history is clean, and make copies of important documents and store them in another part of the house just in case you lose the original set.
Borrow only if you absolutely need to
This seems to be a golden rule most dads lived by because a debt is something that will always play in the back of your mind till you pay it off. You will always have that nagging feeling that you haven’t cleared your dues. As a wise dad once said, "Relying on your ‘future self’ to pay off debts is foolish." Having a debt affects your peace of mind and all the hard work you had put into financial planning will suffer if it isn’t accounted for. If you have a debt, clear it as soon as you can!
Have somebody else within the family know of your finances
Dads were always prepared for emergencies. Call them well-prepared, or call them paranoid, but because of them families knew exactly what to do and where to look for what financial documents in the event of an emergency. It's important to not leave all the information with just one person. Not only will it ensure that no one person will suffer if something happened to the rest but it will also make sure that the family sticks together and not go their separate ways if things go south.
Sleep on your urge to spend
This rule is what we call 'The mother of all financial rules'! Most dads never denied us anything as children, right? But if you think about it, dads just knew how to hide a lesson we'd never forget in the guise of a clever ploy. Remember that time when that toy you so badly wanted was out of your dad’s budget? Did he tell you that he’ll bring you to the store again in two days? That, friends, is the brilliant plan every Indian dad seemed to have been a part of! What it did was it gave us time to lose interest in that toy by sleeping on it. Try it on yourself the next time you want to buy some fancy smartphone or camera. You'd be surprised!
If our upbringing has taught us anything, it is the value of money. We have learnt to find joy in the one rupee candy we bought on our way back from school and learnt to look forward to taking the new fountain pen to school to show off in front of our friends. We learnt to find joy in the simple things which in turn taught us to better utilise and invest our money. We wouldn’t change a thing about our childhoods even if we had a chance to go back in time. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?