>Money makes the world go round…

>…And round and round and round, till your head is spinning with either too much or too little of it. Or maybe not, if you can look at money as merely the means to an end and not the end itself.

I’m not there yet. I still dream of wads of notes. I wish I had so much of it that I could live without thinking of how I can get more of it. And yet, I’m thankful that I don’t have so much of it that I wouldn’t value it for what it can get me. And because at the end of the day, money can’t really buy happiness!

I’ve seen people marry for money, I’ve seen people sell their dirty little souls for money and I have seen days with very little money. And I still prefer the latter because despite not having the money to buy expensive toys or going on fancy holidays, we, as a family, had enough money to keep us happy when I was a kid. I didn’t buy too many books but borrowed them from the library because books were expensive. I didn’t buy too many clothes because there were enough hand-me-downs. I didn’t shop till I needed to. We gifted our friends posters, cassettes, mugs and such and were happy to receive those on our birthdays as well. We ate out once a week but at the fancy places only on a special occasion. We never flew to another city because we had enough time to take the train. We lived respectfully, we had enough and we had our wish-lists. I wanted things I didn’t have but never so much so as not to love what I had.

When I was in college, I valued every single penny that came from home to the hosteler. And it wasn’t just me – it was all of us – the collective college-going “we”. We walked any distance so that we could save the ten rupees we’d be spending on the auto. We thought coffees at Barista were precious – eighty rupees for a cup! We split the bills whenever we ate out, so that no one was burning a hole in their pockets. And we had a ball! We still had freedom, still had fun and we still had our dreams!

I started working for a very paltry amount of money. My dad tried to buy me out – promised me much more than the salary I was going to get so that I’d work for him. I didn’t care for the money because I was high on having gotten a job. I think I was a little unlucky with money then – never made as much as I should’ve but never needed more.

Today, I have so much more than I ever had. I live extravagantly compared to a lot of other people. We’ve been on holidays abroad, we can afford to believe in retail therapy, we eat out at fancy five star places whenever we fancy the idea, we have more clothes, shoes and everything else we require. We gift each other expensive gifts. We drive luxury cars, we indulge in designer stuff once in a while, even if it’s low-end designer stuff. We never worry about making ends meet. And yet we’re not as happy as we thought we’d be with so much money! It still seems less, a whole lot lesser than what we thought it would be. There’s always another car, another piece of jewellery, another piece of land we covet and can’t have. How much more to buy the happiness we want, I wonder!

And then I think back to the times I waited to be here and I’m so thankful for not having been born with a silver spoon in my mouth, for not wanting the sky without knowing how much it’ll come for. And then I also remember, money can’t really buy happiness.

What’s your relationship with money?

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39 responses »

  1. >Loved this post D. Indeed, how much is enough? Was so much happier, when there was so little of money, and yet so much of fun. I can't believe hoW alike we are, especially when I read the bit about your college life, more so when i see girls in college now, shopping their hearts out, without a care! But I do believe there is no end for the wants, its the happiness that actually matters.

  2. >Oh you sound so much like me. may be the aries factor :)I think I want to have enough money to have a comfortable life; lack of enough to keep me grounded. Whatever it is lack or abundance ; money will not be a reason to sell my soul ( or anything else for that matter) for sure. and I really really feel hurt and sad when those few green bucks can make somebody go so wrong so wrong that there is no way return. Loved the post. 🙂

  3. >Money was never important for me. Power something more exciting. But ever since I started my spiritual journey, it is important enough to the extent that I would like to have money so that it gives me the luxury to focus on fullfilling my real purpose in life. ANd that purpose has nothing to do with a designation and the pay slip.Oh yes some money also helps me to stay back at home and be with my children when they need me the most instead of leaving them in day cares and with a hired help.

  4. >@Goofy: Actually, these realisations come when I compare myself to Generation Now. How is it that they have so much and value so little?@Blue Mist: Perhaps, it is the Aries factor. Perhaps, it's about being from a generation that has seen the times change.@Aneri masi: You lucky girl!@Chrysalis: Money certainly isn't dispensable! And there's so much it can get us in life if we don't hanker after it all the time.

  5. >I've never given much thought to money. It's always been enough for my needs. Guess , that's why I've never changed jobs. Never felt the need for more. I am a pretty content person money-wise *touch-wood*. Now, hubby is an entire different story!!

  6. >aah.. this is going to be a long comment.. interested? No choice now.. sorry! here is the background: I was born to second generation migrants from Pakistan. The thing is, grandparents on both sides were alive and remembered their very moneyed days in West Punjab. Their ways did not change… we would have 3 clothes, but all of them well tailored, well kept. In general, there was no money to be rich, but the thought process remained the same. My parents, on the other hand, had to work for everything – from scratch. There were months when we had to be careful with what we ate. And there were months when we could splurge. There was a time when my father did really well. We had money then. And we knew good people. There was one thing though – my father and mother never lost a friend – not in all these years.. and the friendships have not changed.. not when they had money, not when they didnt, and not when they have enough, and not too much. My relationship with money and things is this: 1. No matter how much I have, it is only as enough as i want it to be. 2. Pleasure is not in the caviar or the roadside kulfi, its in you and in who you are with. 3. Money is a means to an end, its not an end in itself. A certain basic level of existence is now a hygiene factor for me. More than that is always optional and to be used as a means to an end. Beyond a certain level(the lower this level is, the happier one will be), money and lack thereof means nothing.

  7. >We dont think so much about money because we have it.Maybe we dont have enough to buy just about everything, but atleast we dont have to really think about everyday necessities and a few luxuries. I wish I had it more so that I could give out more…thats how it buys me happiness 🙂

  8. >@Monika, Ansh: Your husband and you would be able balance out each other well then.@How do: I love how you say pleasure is not in the caviar or the kulfi… Very beautifully put. And more of such long comments are welcome :)@Nisha: You know there's never enough to give away from. The richest are sometimes the stingiest.

  9. >Having seen little of it while growing up, I am now wary…I know i can splurge, yet the habit of saving for a rainy day keeps me away. Till the spouse comes and assures me thats its ok to relax and spend once in a while. I've earned it:)

  10. >"I wanted things I didn’t have but never so much so as not to love what I had."What a lovely line D. Mind if I use it on my husband and child :)I feel the same way about money like u. Having enough to lead a comfortable life is good enough for me. Yes, many things that were perhaps a luxury when I was little have gone on to become necessities which I am not proud of but cannot help either.

  11. >An excellent post D! My stand is that money can and does buy happiness. For me, it definitely does. Esp because I have never had so much money in my life. Not even now, when I`m here in the US. I have never really had enough money to splurge on expensive dresses/shoes/salon/jewelery/cars/restaurants etc etc. Not even now. BUt I have seen my dad, just as I have myself struggled to maintain a comfortable,albeit a lil poor existence. Always. And I have been happy. Mostly. Would I be happy with more money? Sure. Who wouldnt? How much?? That varies from one to the other.. Wonder if there can ever be a limit..An excellent post D!!

  12. >well, I've grown up with a lot of it, have seen its ugly side being from a business family, and it repels me. I like a simple life, I don't look at it as an end , just a means….as long as it helps me travel and buy books, I don't need any more.That it does not buy happiness, I've always believed and have always been proved right. The Boy and I still talk about our college days where the money was less and yet we don't remember a single thing we wanted to do and couldn't. The less complicated life is, the better it is!

  13. >me i think i am the same as u… there are ups and downs but usually yes..but see what u mean, when i see my youngest sis i understand what u mean… this generation takes money for granted wondering what will my son do

  14. >We didn't live extravagantly when I was a kid but I do remember that we had to be careful as to how we spent every paisa. Till Class12 I got Rs. 100 a sopcket money and used to think I was rich. one good thing was that my friend's mothers and mine all got together and ecided how much we all got so noone ever had moremoney or someone had less.When i got to college, my dad's medical bills and my college fees etc did add upto a pretty penny every month, but my mom made sure I never went without. I remeber asking for a mobile in my 1st year when they weren't all that common and my mom said I didn't need it, i only wanted it. When I started doing my internships in different cities and returning late, she bought me one herself. When I got placed my dad gifted me a new cell phone. I ear a good sum today (touchwood) and so doe smy husband. We belive in indulging ourselves but my ingrained habit is to always save some for a rainy day. I do enough retail therapy every month and my husband indulges himself with his expensive camera lens, but we make sure we put some away. That's our security blanket.PS: Sorry for the length of the comment. it's practically a post in itself

  15. >@Meira: But saving up is a very Indian quality. Whether you have pots of gold or none at all, if you're an Indian you're most likely to be saving up.@Quirky Quill: Thank you! Did read that post of yours and get what you're saying.@Anamika: 🙂 Yes, of course you can use it! And the bit about luxuries becoming a habit is true for a lot of us, me at least.@Piper: Does money buy happiness or does it buy us a comfortable life? Yes, there's great pleasure in knowing there's enough in your pocket for you to not have to think about money matters, but can it really get you joy? It's more likely that poverty or lack of enough money can make you unhappy but the vice versa may not also be true.@Chandni: 🙂 It takes a lot to be able to choose a simple life over a money-ed existence in these times.@Monika: Your son will treat money exactly how you teach him to.@SMM: My first mobile phone came when I was working. In fact, I'd been working for a year when I got one as a gift from The Guy. I resisted it a great deal, saying I didn't need it. I'm quite surprised to see how children who're in school think they 'need' a cell phone. Times have changed very fast!

  16. >That was a post that really resonated. There's always something you'll never have!I look back on the early days with a lot of nostalgia. Money was scarce, but I always seemed to have more fun. Now, all the 'comforts' that you mentioned are there, but I seem to have lost the sense of wonder.Quite sad, really.The reason I said this post really resonates is because it could be about my life….and I've been having similar thoughts over the last few months…and I've actually decided to try and rediscover the fun I used to have…I hope I manage to do it. Cheers,Quirky Indian

  17. >lol @ aneri massime too!!! it's there. that's it really. it will be there when i need it. never over-indulged … never had to think of saving … just didn't think much of money … still don't … cuz like aneri said, it's there to use when i want or need it … so why bother? :/ that's my r/ship with money.

  18. >D,A very interesting post indeed!!!In my opinion there is no perfect answer to that qn …Also, it can’t be answered in yes or no way too, I think.Whenever I look at the less fortunate kids – especially the kids who work in restaurants in Indian cities …I always feel I would have been one of them if I was born in their family Even though most of us call ourselves as self made people, in the sense – did well in college, got a good job and work hard for career and stuff…I like to think ( at least sometimes) that I was able to get a good education because I was born in the family that I have now.. What if I was born to a beggar or a rickshaw-walla or a bonder laborer or even worse my parents abandoned me after I was born …I am sure all the readers of this blog haven’t really struggled for food or education ( and I mean begging for food and never been to school stuff not studying on scholarship or not able to eat out) ….so I guess we view money from a totally different perspective …that is I need the money for my needs and little bit of wants and that’s it…Going by the comments above, I guess most of us have had similar backgrounds.Most of us are in the 20’s – 30’s age group and we grew up in the pre-globalization era and back then for middle class Indian families cars, AC’s, foreign vacations etc were something that can’t be even dreamt of and were very much luxuries …Still we were happy – once in a while eating out at local restaurant, movies and birthday parties etc … College was more fun because our parents made sure that we do really enjoy the most beautiful phase of our life…Somehow during those times India really changed …My 1st month’s salary was more than the salary that my dad earned in the last month of his career of 35 working for the Ministry of defence. It was the same for everyone who got jobs in IB or S/W or the latest hot industries were earning more than their parents (be it college professors or engineers or any salaried professional).As salaries increased things considered luxuries started becoming needs.To summarize – For the less fortunate people who don’t even have the basic necessities – MONEY is IMPORTANT and IT does BUY HAPPINESS.For others – (I guess all of us) in my opinion it can be defined in 2 ways(i) Been there, done that – As a kid, I had never travelled in a flight or been to a star hotel or had taken a foreign vacation. Now I have done all of these and know what these feel like. There is no longing of “How does it feel to do XYZ” and that’s because I have done that and it is good – but I can live without these for the rest of my life and still be happy and that’s only because I know what it is and how it feels. At the same time try telling this to someone who has never done any of these, but is aware of these things and longs for them .. He/She might think that these will make them happy (and it sure will) and you need money for that.(ii) What will satisfy your need – Though I didn’t have a car growing up, now given my job responsibilities and commitments in life and managing time, a car is a necessity for me. But I would be happy with a maruti 800 whereas someone else might need a BMW and someone else might need a Ferrari. For me I need a mode of transport and it makes me happy – for someone else they a “particular” mode of transport and that’s what makes them happy.It is all about Marginal Propensity to Consume (MPC) – For any extra money you make, how much will you spend for yourself … if your MPC is less you have reached a point where money doesn’t buy you happiness… until then money will buy you happiness !!!

  19. >D,A very interesting post indeed!!!In my opinion there is no perfect answer to that qn …Also, it can’t be answered in yes or no way too, I think.Whenever I look at the less fortunate kids – especially the kids who work in restaurants in Indian cities …I always feel I would have been one of them if I was born in their family Even though most of us call ourselves as self made people, in the sense – did well in college, got a good job and work hard for career and stuff…I like to think ( at least sometimes) that I was able to get a good education because I was born in the family that I have now.. What if I was born to a beggar or a rickshaw-walla or a bonded laborer or even worse my parents abandoned me after I was born …I am sure all the readers of this blog haven’t really struggled for food or education ( and I mean begging for food and never been to school stuff not studying on scholarship or not able to eat out) ….so I guess we view money from a totally different perspective …that is I need the money for my needs and little bit of wants and that’s it…Going by the comments above, I guess most of us have had similar backgrounds.Most of us are in the 20’s – 30’s age group and we grew up in the pre-globalization era and back then for middle class Indian families cars, AC’s, foreign vacations etc were something that can’t be even dreamt of and were very much luxuries …Still we were happy – once in a while eating out at local restaurant, movies and birthday parties etc … College was more fun because our parents made sure that we do really enjoy the most beautiful phase of our life…Somehow during those times India really changed …My 1st month’s salary was more than the salary that my dad earned in the last month of his career of 35 working for the Ministry of defence. It was the same for everyone who got jobs in IB or S/W or the latest hot industries were earning more than their parents (be it college professors or engineers or any salaried professional).As salaries increased things considered luxuries started becoming needs.To summarize – For the less fortunate people who don’t even have the basic necessities – MONEY is IMPORTANT and IT does BUY HAPPINESS.For others – (I guess all of us) in my opinion it can be defined in 2 ways(i) Been there, done that – As a kid, I had never travelled in a flight or been to a star hotel or had taken a foreign vacation. Now I have done all of these and know what these feel like. There is no longing of “How does it feel to do XYZ” and that’s because I have done that and it is good – but I can live without these for the rest of my life and still be happy and that’s only because I know what it is and how it feels. At the same time try telling this to someone who has never done any of these, but is aware of these things and longs for them .. He/She might think that these will make them happy (and it sure will) and you need money for that.(ii) What will satisfy your need – Though I didn’t have a car growing up, now given my job responsibilities and commitments in life and managing time, a car is a necessity for me. But I would be happy with a maruti 800 whereas someone else might need a BMW and someone else might need a Ferrari. For me I need a mode of transport and it makes me happy – for someone else they need a “particular” mode of transport and that’s what makes them happy.It is all about Marginal Propensity to Consume (MPC) – For any extra money you make, how much will you spend for yourself … if your MPC is less you have reached a point where money doesn’t buy you happiness… until then money will buy you happiness !!!-Anamika

  20. >@Quirky Indian: I know what you mean… I'd like to know how you plan to rediscover those simple pleasures of life… Share that with us.@Roop: What's the "lol" for? I'm sorry I miss the humour there. And if you don't have to spare a thought for money ever, you're very lucky and I hope you know that.@Anamika: Very interesting comment. I agree with just about everything you've said. We can afford to look at money only as a means and not an end because we've had enough of it to take us through life. But when there isn't enough to buy you two square meals, it can buy you happiness. But what clinched the argument for me is the last bit you said about how MPC decides whether money can buy us happiness or not. So true!

  21. >i must admit that though my parents would never be extravagant (they still aren't – eating out to them means eating at a small eatery near by), my dad was overwhelmingly kind to me with money. i used to live a lavish life when i was in college – travel, drink, eat out and what not.i have noticed that our lives tends to adapt itself to the kind of money we make. the more we make, the more we started wanting. it goes on and on.i am quite 'bad' with money. i spend without thinking much. i also give away lots of money. long time. hope all is well. i liked this post. you articulate your thoughts well, as always.

  22. >@J: Rarely, I think.@dharmabum: Thank you and welcome back! Where have you been? I don't think life gives us any other option but to adapt to situations it springs on us. Money matters are no different (?)

  23. >D,…..In an age where my money is money and your money is also my money… well, money is important, but my side of the brain too has been paralyzed since birth or before…. to the extent that I hate visiting banks and extremely thankful to my roommates who did that work for me, whenever, there was a bill or fees to pay…just can't stand those misers and scrooges cringe when they have to spend for some good reason….it should be used wisely…. and for all the right things, now what is right is an individual choice and matter for another blog post!!I like your thoughts…..Tk DAsh

  24. >Money wields power. I doubt if there ever is enough for anybody, no matter how rich or poor one may be.As for me, I need more of it in order to fulfill the dreams I nurture. On second thoughts, it could be the other way round too. Making money in the process of realizing my dreams. It's a vicious circle, I tell ya :-)I'd like to believe in the saying – "Those who say money can't buy happiness, never had enough" Sounds devilish but I'd like to stick to this one.

  25. >similar to yours. I can write tales about it.thankfully I am at that stage in my life where I don't have to think much about money. But surprisingly even when i did, it never mattered so much. somehow, I've always believed that money will come to me and I need not run after it. touch wood. i remember days in the hostel, towards the end of the month when the pocket money is in it's last leg and money from home has not yet arrived. have walked miles on foot, shared a cut chai, cut a half soap into anotehr half and what not :). good memories now…but even then it was not so much a pain

  26. >I don't think it's fair to say that when we have money, we keep wanting more…There was a time, maybe when I was 16, when I was extremely materialistic and kept wanting more and more things… kept collecting. Mom struggled a bit with me, and made me see reason.Now I think twice about whether I really NEED what I want. Whether I'll value it tomorrow, or have place to keep it.I'm hoping I've changed significantly. And I hope that if I have more money tomorrow, I'll use it well even if I choose to live lavishly.

  27. >@Pins n Ashes: Let me know when that other post happens :)@Sangfroid: How could I have missed that most important thing about money? Money IS power.@A:Exactly! Even then it was not a pain :)@unsung: It's good for you if you can be like that. A lot of people can't.

  28. >A very thought provoking post, D.Money the great equaliser- the poorest as well as the richest still want more…To me, money by itself can't get you happiness in the true sense but one thing it does is get you acceptance in society. Which is also an important thing. Whether it be in college or at work or as a mother even..Merely havng money isn't enough either. One of my aunts has pots and pots of money but is a Scrooge and she doesn't have too many people really liking her; whereas her sibling who is less well-off, but spends more for others is better liked.Money helps you enjoy the good things in life and there are sure to be some people who will come along with you for the nice ride. But it still can't get you the friend who will help you push the car when a tire goes bust. That depends entirely on WHO you are and not on how much money you have.Its like some bosses in your earlier jobs could make you work more for less, cos you liked them, whereas current bosses who pay you tons more comparatively just don't have that power to elicit work….. Me sorry for the long comment too 🙂 and yeah, it seems to me that as a child, I was a lot more content with hardly any toys than my son is now, with more toys than he can play with!

  29. >A beautiful post about life's dilemma. Money – too much or too little are both troubling states of existence. Money – what can one do with money? It is just a means to satisfy one's needs and wants – needs are basic for survival – wants can be endless. So, how much money is enough? In my childhood I had heard a doha, "swami, itna dijiye ja mein kutumb samaye, main bhi bhookha naa rahoon, saadh bhi bhookha naa jaaye". Times have changed now with capitalism bringing a lot more gadgets that we want… but none of them give us any sustained pleasure or happiness. I am also looking for an answer to the question as to, 'how much is enough'?? Thought provoking post, D.

  30. >@JLT: Money, the great equaliser? I thought it was the symbol on inequity!@JP sir: It takes a lifetime to find the answer and by the time we do, I guess it's too late!@Anonymous: And why do you say that? What perception did you have of me that I confused? I'm very curious!

  31. >i have always felt its easy to give a rosy tint to lack of money (saying the street urchins have such happy smiles!) when one has enough to lead a decently good life! :pi come from a middle class background and there was never a lack of anything. not too much of anything either! and yes, i appreciate that background!when M and me got married also we had very l'il money! today its much better! most of our friends earn a LOT more, but i dont compare us to them! for me to be where we are from where we were itself is a big deal! :)and money defi cant buy happiness! 🙂 i see that everytime with my ILs who have more and my parents who not so much! :)cheers!

  32. >A lot of times in such article (probably not so much in this one), the theme that comes out is "money is evil".I don't think I ever tried equating money to happiness. I don't deny a reasonable correlation though.I was happy as I was in college, wouldn't have been any un-happier if had a little more money.Two reasons why money shows up as evil a lot of times- People treat it as an elixir which it is not- Due to above point, they get in a mindless pursuit thereby losing balance in their lives.Tales of people being poor and happy in college and then turning all gloomy after becoming big shots with wads of money for a pillow; well, the sadness is not entirely due to the presence of the money, its the absence of a host of other things, not the least of which is a sense of balance in life

  33. >@Anonymous: I hate to disappoint people who think that of me. Tsk, tsk! Also, just curious, are you a blogger or are you someone who knows me real life? I'll put my bet on the latter.@Abha: Money can't buy happiness does not mean that rich people are unhappy. It just means that you can't rest the foundation of your happiness on riches, just as you pointed out.@Deepesh: Very well put.

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