>We’re getting rich so quick, it’s scary


The other day I was sitting with my 70-year-old neighbour who looks nothing more than 50, and who is such a wonderful conversationalist, full of stories and anecdotes that I wish I could spend more time with her. That’s just for the perspective, not the point though. She was telling me about her grandson, who’s getting engaged to his girlfriend sometime soon. So the young chap told his mom he wanted to gift his wife-to-be a diamond solitaire on their engagement, at least a 3-carat diamond solitaire. The family’s not a steeped-in-riches, leave-your-son-an-eye-popping-inheritance kind of family. So the mother refused, saying she just didn’t have that kind of money (3 carat diamond at the family jeweller would cost about 7 lakh rupees approximately). No problem, the son retorted and said, I’ve saved enough.

This young chap I’m talking about is all of 26! And hold on. The boy’s also bought a three-storey house in Delhi. Already! I mean, what is this if not a wow-inducing moment? Saved enough for a 3-carat solitaire set in gold? And a house to boot at 26? Wow indeed!

I’m sure you know at least a couple of these kind of youngsters – who’ve already been there, done that at 26 or some age nearby. But I don’t how to react to such awe-inspiring success stories (except, of course, to be a little in awe of them), because there’s some part of me still rooted in childhood memories of people using up all their savings of a lifetime to get a home. Remember, all those stories we heard of our grandfathers and fathers using their hard-earned money to build a house? At 40, if not post-retirement? People who owned houses were usually landed people, from families who could give their sons a house in viraasat. In India, owning a house is the surest symbol of social security. It’s great that we have social security so soon in our lives, but is it right? I mean, shouldn’t people in their 20s be living like they didn’t have a care in the world instead of thinking of EMIs that gobble up half their salaries? Weren’t we supposed to wait for our 30s to settle down and the 40s to look for social security? Such redundant concepts, eh?

It all sounds good, these fat pay cheques that can get you anything that money can buy. But up close, it’s not that rosy a picture. A friend’s husband is climbing up the corporate ladder so fast, it seems he’s taking two steps at a time. He’s bought a house in the NCR at 27. He’s second in command in his company. And he has no time for his family. My friend works too, but not like the workaholic that her husband does. And she complains that he wants to move up so fast, he has no time for her. Guys like him say they plan to earn enough by 40 to retire. Seriously, do you think such people can ever quit the race?

Contentment and satisfaction were considered virtues in our society. They’re looked down upon as cover-ups for complacency and lack of ambition in a person now. A person who comes home early from work is considered either to be wasting his time or downright lazy. That he may want to spend time with his family means nothing these days. What if someone did make the choice to be happy with just enough money and more than enough time and to be back home early? And what if that person was living in a rented house? How bad would that be?

And even while I say this, I realise that of the two kind of people I’ve mentioned – ambitious and not – more people will still aspire to be the ambitious sort of person. Is that what happiness has come to mean for an entire generation of people?


18 responses »

  1. >Yeah, what you're saying is quite true.. people will aspire to be the ambitious type. What has driven us to this point is having seen parents who have struggled for years and got too little, too late in life. Most people prefer to slog their asses off, take risks such as EMIs instead of taking on sunk costs like rents. It's a classic developing economy concept. Sadly, the cost is leisure, family time, and balance.

  2. >Definitely awe-inspiring to be able to buy a house at 26 (I'm 23 and I can't even buy half a wardrobe yet).But tragic all the same. If people with such lofty ambitions like your friend's husband have no time for their families, what's the point of getting married in the first place? Why are you denying your family time to spend with you? To give them a 'better life' later on? It'll be a sad day for any parent when they realize their kids have grown up and they haven't ever had the time to partake or observe the process and when they do, it will be too late.People seriously need to reflect on their choice of priorities.

  3. >Possibly a balance is what we are looking for, and yet that is the most difficult thing to achieve. You know the worst bit is, we do get influenced by our surroundings, and so in a work place full of ambitious people, if one does the work right, and nothing more, they get left behind, and after a while it gets to the person, and they change, so that they can be a part of the world. Sad thing, but its difficult to survive without being just that!

  4. >It's a case of too much too soon.. house at 27.. wow. My parents bought their's after retirement and we bought ours in our thirties… guess that's how the progression goes.. so what next… kids buying houses on their naming ceremonies???

  5. >Sounds so much like the DH!He wants to give up everything by the time he is 40, which gives him 10 more years!!While I think its a great idea, hw much can u tolerate sitting at home or playing golf when ur wife is at work or ur kids are @ school?? Because I intend to work as long as possible..On the other hand, we bought our house in B'lore when we were 23 & 26.. We had no help frm parents, it was only our savings, we jus waited to get married to get higher loan eligibility.. While the initial yrs were merciless on us, we can now make a 100% profit on our house in just 4 yrs!!I recommend buying houses but not selling out on ur time 😛

  6. >Buying house is not a big thing…. what is hidden is the EMI and asset in banks which are used to buy such houses….and moreover…. richness comes when u say the liquidity u have in ur hand….

  7. >@Alec Smart: It's okay to slog off in the early years of your life, but it's not okay to think that our parents who struggled for years were unhappy. I don't think they were unhappy.@purple moonbeam: Yes, what you can do in your 20s, you can't in your 40s.@Goofy: How sad! Is success equal to happiness?

  8. >@Obsessivemom: I'm sure everyone is very proud of that lad. I'm a tad envious too, of not having saved enough to make that kind of an investment. But The Guy and I, we just believe so much in living life, that we're quite unambitious about buying properties :P@Dee: It's great that youngsters are so wise and prudent these days. But what of fun?@Chakoli: Well, you can't buy a house without the money, can you? So buying a house to me is a big deal in times when property rates are at an all-time high.

  9. >what you said is quite true. loved this bit "Contentment and satisfaction were considered virtues in our society. They’re looked down upon as cover-ups for complacency and lack of ambition in a person now"/.. Can't agree more. I know people who feel the same for me coz I haven't bothered much about my career and instead has put in effort in building a home.

  10. >I agree that youngsters are getting aggressive and ambitious, but then as a breed of children we were grown to fight and win. I am one of the who would figure in the kind of profiling you have done given that I bought my first house at 27, and the fact remains that this how the world recognizes our success and thats how we do it, isn't it so?

  11. >I totally agree with you.. Yes.. the younger generation is not only getting aggressive.. but their value for things and life in general is diminishing.. Its a bit sad.. that they've got so much at their easy disposal.. for some of them.. they make good use of it.. but for most… what a waste!! Hope you've been doing well.. Its been a while.. since I checked your posts.. Take care!!

  12. >Like they say: Everything has its own pros and cons.. While its good to have your own house, but not at cost of sacrificing your day to day happiness and spending time away from family. I guess its all about priorities… I have recently bought a house, but I still want my weekly offs, come back home on time, take vacations on a regular basis.. I need my Me Time…

  13. >@sscribles: The changing social values make us more judgemental that we must be.@Prats: True. But is success equal to happiness always?@Patty: Yes, what I'm saying is more in the nature of an observation than a judgement. It could all be very well, but I'm just a tad worried about where this could be taking us as a generation.And I keep dropping by on your blog and love how it's prospered! :)@Soulmate: That's exactly what I'm talking about. Some achievers set these examples and then we all have to stretch ourselves thin to reach that mark.

  14. >The problem of today is that everyone is earning a fast buck that at times it leads a burnout making people wonder what should I do next?I do wonder if it makes any sense to be involved so deep in work that one ignores everything else in their life like family, friends, etc. is that all worth it?Earning money is good but not at the cost of sacrificing relations.

  15. >I think the key is "balance" in all things. When friends ask me "what diet are you on", I say, "the moderate one – where I eat all things in moderation:):)

  16. >People don't understand that to gain something, they are losing something else. They think they are very clever and like to think that they are not losing anything. By the time they retire at 40, they won't have anyone to share all their wealth. Or they start distrusting people so much that they will (almost) live alone. I, for one don't think that a lot of money in the hands of young people is any good at all. They get addicted to alcohol etc, or they get addicted to the lifestyle which they find too difficult to get out of, later.

  17. >@The Survivor: As a society, I think we're more focussed on money than we used to be. And while I may not be an exception, I don't think it's very healthy.@Kala: True.@ES: You're right about the lifestyle bit, we want to earn more because we want a better lifestyle, and then we get caught in the vicious cycle.

  18. >@D: It's not equivalent to Happiness. But then money is a measure of achievement. I personally feel motivated by the amount of wealth I have generated for myself and for my corporation. Being Happy is a function of a lot more things but getting where I am surely is not a reason for Unhappiness.

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