March 16, 2001,
and more money
exciting is your life?
and more money
Money, money, money. Everyone wants it, wants it more than others, wants it more than what heís got.
To many, money is everything, and there is no such thing as having too much of it. "You can always collect Picassos or Gauguins if you have too much money or buy houses and objects of art, planes and cars," they make out. Others are inclined to believe that money beyond a certain point can actually complicate life instead of improving it. Wealth forces you to become a hoarder. It opens so many choices and you spend much of your time monitoring them.
How much money is enough? Different people will come up with widely varying sums. Is there an optimum amount, something qualifying for a general consensus?
The other evening, Anand, a family friend, dropped in for a drink. Heís the manager of an advertising firm. Anand has a company car and gets Rs 40,000 as monthly salary.
Dabbling in stocks and shares, this year Anand made a killing, coming out clear with a crore of rupees.
Reminiscing over scotch, he says, "As a youth, I dreamt of becoming a lakhpati. Now, strictly speaking, Iím a crorepati. Yet I find, a crore of rupees isnít just enough."
"Enough for what?" I ask. "You can resign your job. Simply live on the interest, without touching the capital. The return will give you a regular income of about a lakh a month. Isnít that enough?"
"Taxes will take away a sizeable part. And mind, Iíve to have a decent house in the city; the flat we live in is too cramped. A crore wonít even get us the house I fancy. Thatís the paradox. By any demographic comparison, Iím rich, and yet, given everything I want Iím too "poor" to stop working. No, a crore wonít be enough to change things for me."
And then adds after a little reflection, "I suppose, it would have to be something around ten. Such a sum should assure us a lifetime of affluent, carefree living. I can then chuck my job, develop my hobbies of bird-watching, photography."
"Why ten?" I say with a wry smile. "Why not twenty? Why not hundred crores? Do you know what Ted Turner of CNN said about his becoming a billionaire? ĎHaving great wealth is one of the most disappointing things. Itís overrated, I can tell you that. Itís not as good as average sexí."
"Iíve done the sums," says Anand with a certain mock seriousness. "Ten crores, thatís enough. I can manage a nice lifestyle if I ever come by that sort of money."
"Then start dabbling in lotteries not shares. Better play some of those big foreign lotteries," I say.
"No, Iím serious. Ten crores is exactly the right amount of money to have, without it becoming a burden. With five I will buy a goodly house plus the fittings and furniture to go with it. Out of the balance, Iíll buy a couple of new cars, one a Mercedes. Relatives ó both on my side and my wifeís side ó would be expecting expensive gifts. Some money will go to my favoured charities for the disabled. And the family is bound to indulge in a spending spree, jewellery and clothes, as the money arrives. That leaves roughly four crores to be invested in government-backed zero-risk savings and bonds, preferably the tax-free ones. This should yield a monthly income of about Rs 3 lakh."
"Rs 3 lakh a month is lavish living," I interject. "To an average Indian, thatís a staggering sum."
"No, itís just enough for an affluent, carefree living, when you take out the taxes and reckon with inflation. Enough for a comfortable style of living, plus some high-class entertaining. Two foreign holidays in a year ó travelling executive class and staying in five-star hotels. And mind, weíve two teenage sons who have the potential of acquiring expensive tastes."
Not that professionals like Anand are money-driven, but nevertheless they have come to associate certain amount of money for achieving their conception of the magical level of wealth. To them, big, well-furnished houses, imported cars, all sorts of gadgets and white goods, holidays abroad, and children indulged lavishly are simply a part of everyday basics. They are forever pushing up their lifestyles. No wonder, a windfall of Rs 1 crore isnít deemed enough by Anand and those like him.
Of course, there is another ó fast
diminishing ó group of professionals who belong to the India of 1950s,
when people worked hard to assure themselves of a "good life":
a decent house, an annual vacation in the hills, sound education for
children, and an occasional dinner at home for friends.
exciting is your life?
Do you ever feel that your life is uneventful? Or are you the sort of person who encounters a surprise around every corner? Try this quiz to find out.
1. How many times have you had a surprise promotion at work?
a. three or more
b. one or two
2. When you go out to tea with a friend, how likely is it that you will have some sort of accident, for example, get scratched by her cat, spill your drink or bump your car into her garden wall?
a. extremely unlikely
b. it could happen
c. very likely indeed
3. Your friends have thrown you a surprise party. Are you:
a. delighted ó but not very surprised
b. blase ó it has happened so many times before
c. gobsmacked ó it has never happened before
4. You go shopping for a new pair of shoes. When you get back home, do you have:
a. a new pair of shoes
b. the shoes, plus several outfits
c. a new car
5. How likely is it that you would take a chance and book a last minute holiday?
a. You never holiday any other way
b. you would certainly consider it
6. Your partner phones from work and suggests an evening out ó but you only have 45 minutes to get ready. Do you:
a. refuse to go
b. get ready and are out of the house in ten minutes
c. arrive quarter of an hour late
7. The children are pestering you for a pet. Are you:
a. willing to consider it
b. already at the pet shop
c. prepared to discuss it again in a few years time
8. An attractive stranger approaches you at a party. Do you:
a. swap phone numbers within minutes
b. freeze him with one glance
c. chat for the duration of the party and take his number if it is offered
9. How many times have you opted for a career change, or taken some kind of adult education course?
a. once or twice
c. many times
10. Ask your partner or a friend which characteristic best describes you:
70-100: Your life is certainly never dull. Your are always prepared to take a chance, to dive into the unknown and to accept a challenge. But are you really an adrenalin junkie? Is all this excitement good for your health? It is better to look before you leap.
40-65: You like a bit of fun and excitement but your feet are firmly on the ground. You keep your options open but you would be very uncomfortable if you thought you might be letting people down or focusing on your own fun while others have to take a back seat. Donít change.
0-35: You plod along at a snailís pace ó and maybe it suits you. If so, doníts change. But if you ever pine for a bit of variety, do take a risk every now and then. It wonít hurt you to take a spur-of-the-moment decision once in a while. And you might just end up enjoying life more.
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