Maybe it's a good time to talk about money. Black, white, colored, all sorts. There are some lessons i learnt after moving to Gurgaon. Back in Bombay, i didn't care much for money mainly because i didn't have expenses. When you're living with your family, you don't care about raashan. I barely went out or had any habits to support. There were magazines to buy, Internet bills to pay, film festivals/cultural events to attend, occasional weekend Chinese with Tushar and Anu. That's it. Maybe that's why i could take a 50% salary cut to try myself at journalism. I was touching 25 then and was offered 13K a month. Not a huge amount when you consider i didn't get any conveyance from the publication, not for the travels required, nope for the calls dialled. After the deductions, less than 10K reached my pocket. But then, i got myself some proud bylines. Lots of them, actually, for someone who never went to an esteemed J-school. Also, experience. Loads of that too. By the time i gave up journalism, after spending close to 3.5 years, i was back at the very salary i quit my previous job!
That was then. I'm a bit wiser now.
The thing about money is it requires understanding. Not very different from the way we deal with kids. They are unpredictable. My friend, Rudra, once told me that one of the reasons i'll remain gareeb is because i'm afraid of money. I didn't gauge the depth of that statement. He was right. When you have remarkably low income, you somehow find comfort in that zone. You look at people with higher income and the troubles they've added to their list by buying a house or a car on loan. You see that they have willingly become a slave to the bank. You begin to see those aspects (at least i did) as avoidable headaches. Irrevocably, you get stuck in your zone. And before you acknowledge it, you are getting old and starting to feel sorry for yourself because not a week goes by you don't compare your fate with the kids you grew up with. They are doing great—not merely going by their FB pics—while you are nearing 30 and neither have a career nor savings.
Savings. That's the word.
How does one save money? If you ask an expert, they'll drain out the difference between save and invest. Since i'm not an expert, i feel saving can be done better when you set your priorities right. Where is your money going? If i find myself in an accident tomorrow, will i be able to get through without disrupting others' lives? Which hill station am i visiting next? Do you want to retire in a mansion? Maintaining a diary about expenses (daily/weekly/monthly) helps. I don't earn a lot (more on that later) so whatever i get gets divided equally into brackets. Precisely how i want things to be for now. Let's put it this way: I neither feel bad about shelling out ₹20 extra to an autowallah/sabziwallah nor do i get robbed by malls. I'm at ease. I do my bits here and there from time to time for people and the environment. I miss participating in sapling projects though but i'm sure my current state of health won't permit it either.
Money happens to be a psychological trick and it's interesting how much imagination it captures. What's more in store is the endless pursuit of it. There's no such a thing as enough when it comes to income. Precisely why we should have a second income flow. It could be anything from freelancing to baking to anything else that you're good at and won't need more than a few hours a day/week. That amount fortifies your future. I've been planning to write a book since my late-teens. At this rate, it seems like a distant dream. However, if i manage to get something going for myself in the field of writing, then i might be able to sustain better. Buy insurances, maybe? Fixed deposits, too? Who knows? A steadier flow of income makes you imaginative.
Until a month ago, i was the only earning member from my family back in Bombay. When you are in a position like i was, you are constantly reminded of your responsibilities. You can't randomly leave your job and pursue your distant dream. You try to settle with as much caution as possible. I look at some of my colleagues who can't do without parties and excessive spending. So much so their online retail therapy doesn't pause. They can afford that because their families don't look forward to their month-end deposits. Things are different for different people. Also, you decide your value in the market and the sooner you realize this, the better. If not, chances are you'll feel lost in the rat race to be financially secure because that's a bloody oxymoron.
PS. No matter what, pay your taxes because a pyre made of black money is a fucking disgrace.