HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
Q. Who can be termed as a Financial Genius?
A. Someone who manages to earn more than his family can spend.
In a monthly magazine, sometime ago, I read this rather interesting and inspiring anecdote: While on a fishing trip last summer, I watched an elderly man fishing off the edge of a dock. He caught an enormous trout, but apparently not satisfied with its size, threw it back into the water. Amazed, I watched him repeat this performance. He finally caught a small pike, threw it into his pail, and smiling happily, prepared to leave. “Why didn’t you keep the other big ones?” I asked. Cheerfully, the old man replied, “Small frying pan.”
The story got me ruminating over a very pertinent question we all may have been asked to think about sometime or the other and that is ‘How much is enough?’
Is it enough to earn a modest salary or should I have the ambition to reach for that pie in the sky? In my own experience, and also from numerous examples all around me, I’d say a modest salary, which will satisfy my basic needs, should be all I should aspire for. A fish to fit my frying pan!
But in reality, this is not so, is it? We want that pie in the sky; the grass looks greener when carpeted with green bills. A fancy car, antique furniture, a mansion on the hills doesn’t fit into a modest salary.
Let me tell you another story. A man was lazing under a tree when an enthusiastic entrepreneur spotted him. Incensed at his carefree attitude, he sought to inspire the idler to a way of life like his. “My dear friend,” he asked the slumbering man, “Don’t you want to be rich and famous?” The man lifted a lazy eyebrow and shook his head. So the entrepreneur enumerated the method of getting rich. He said, “First you must start with a small enterprise, sell your product and win a large clientele. Once you have established yourself, increase your workforce, multiply your money and at the end you will have people working for you and making you rich.” The lounging lizard queried, “And pray, what will I do after that?” “Why,” laughed the entrepreneur, happy to have caught the man’s attention at last, “then you can spend the rest of your time, enjoying yourself.” The idler looked at him and said, “But that’s exactly what I am doing right now.”
Most of us are slogging for a future that we may never enjoy once we get to it. I know of a woman who wanted to travel and greatly desired to see the snowcapped mountains of the Himalayas. But she kept postponing until she was too old and too weak to go. Another man wanted to serve his community but kept saying, “Once I retire, I’ll have plenty of free time. Then I’ll do it.” When the time came, however, he was caught up with his own sickness that others had to aid him through his last days.
Don’t wait for the pie in the sky or run after that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, pushing aside the ‘Now’. Money has no value in the future. 100 bucks saved for 100 years will become 1,00,000 bucks at which time it will be worth absolutely nothing. Now, I’m not saying to waste money lavishly on entertainment or shop till you drop. All I am advising is to save some, spend some and to be content with what you have at present. Working overtime, seeking promotions by burning the midnight oil, and thereby neglecting your health and the family is no life. As you earn, you must also be able to work out your dreams and aid others to work out theirs as well. If you are always worried how you are going to get the mortgage paid on your house or car loan, how can you enjoy the present?
A simple way of living, mind you, is the most difficult thing to do. As they rightly say, Neighbor’s envy, owner’s pride. A colleague of mine had been pestered by his wife to buy them an air conditioner and finally, he relented and got one. No sooner had they installed it, his brother-in-law suddenly found the weather had gotten hotter! Get my point?
I was watching a documentary on the life of Mother Teresa once. The nuns of her congregation have only two sarees, one bucket and a mug as their personal possessions. When one saree is worn, the other is washed. Their meal consists of simple vegetables and chapatti, enough to fuel the body for the work they do. Amazing, isn’t it?
Look at your cupboard and your larder. Look at the amount of things sought, bought without a thought and then cared for nought. Was it worth spending so much on an impulse or to soothe an aching heart? Learn to ‘unclutter’ your life by throwing away what you do not use, and resolve never to make the same mistake twice. Before you buy, ask if its really needed and ‘HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?’ (857 words)